By Stephen Beach, CEO of Craft Impact
As a business grows and improves its processes, it may benefit from transitioning certain departmental duties to another team -- a team within the company, a third-party contractor or even an offshore vendor. The decision to shift responsibilities can be a sensitive one, as it can be perceived as taking jobs away from current employees. When that isn't the case, it's important to have a communications plan in place to temper any negative reactions from your team.
Here are four tips to help transition tasks smoothly from an internal team to another group, including offshore vendors.
Be transparent about the change.
It's an important practice that can make or break your internal culture: Do employees feel like they are well-informed, or do they feel like they are in the dark about why certain decisions are made? Are they told about changes up front, or do they find out through the grapevine?
You want and need to have control of the story so that people don't make a story up for themselves about why something is moving or what that means for their job or someone else's job. With this in mind, communicate a shift in a team's duties as early in the process as possible so the impacted team doesn't learn about it via the rumor mill.
Be clear about what's in it for them.
If a team has been putting in a lot of overtime, or if stress levels are high, often times vendors are brought in to ease the workload by completing tasks overnight, around the clock or during a busy season. In your communications, focus on the fact that this is a positive change for all parties. It will lighten employees' workloads and allow them to concentrate on the quality of their work, rather than worrying about an overwhelming volume.
Emphasize your team's value.
It's also important to focus on your team's value, rather than dwelling on the task you are shifting away. For example, say you have a team that does a lot of manual data entry, and you have found a group that can take on the grunt work, thus allowing your team to take on different projects.
In your announcement, highlight that you recognize that your team has more to contribute than just data entry and that you look forward to freeing up their time to take on other responsibilities. You may even have additional projects you can deploy that will make better use of their strengths. This change could help your employees grow in their careers, learn new skills and become more marketable in the future.
By framing the change not as a reduction in responsibility, but as an improvement in employee's day-to-day work and a better use of their skills, your team will be more excited to take on the additional duties. The more details you can provide about what projects they will be able to take on following this change, the better.
Leverage the team as a training resource.
Training the new vendor or group that will offload the task is a big part of ensuring a smooth transition. That means the team that currently performs the task will likely need to be involved. Let your team know that they're an integral resource for the new group and that their knowledge and expertise of the task is key to a successful transition. Giving the team this praise and responsibility to aid the change will help the team feel like they are playing a valuable role in this transition, rather than just as bystanders.
Transitioning work is never a one-step process, and a lot of planning is involved to ensure a smooth execution. Don't forget to make communications a top priority. It will help you earn internal buy-in and a positive response to the change, without alienating the team whose workload you are adjusting.
Stephen Beach is CEO of Craft Impact, a growth and communications agency that helps companies grow, communicate effectively and overcome change.