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Avoiding the Treadmill Effect: How to get the most from your outsourcing efforts.

Posted By Christine On February 10, 2010 @ 7:02 pm In Productivity, Your Voice Inc. | 6 Comments

Tell me if this sounds familiar to you.  You have finally gotten to the tipping point in your business and you are employing the services of an outside contractor or support staff to take over parts of the job that you used to do.  This will allow you more time to create products, generate more speaking engagements and re-assess your overall business mission and focus.  It sounds great, it feels great and you can’t wait to get started.

A similar thing occurs when we (the royal “we”) decide to buy a treadmill.  We are convinced that with this new convenient gadget our lives will be much better.  It seems like a no-brainer.  Here is this great machine that helps solve a problem that has been weighing (no pun intended) on our minds and bodies for a long time and once it is in the house or the garage, everything will be different.  And then what usually happens?  The process necessary to get the most out of its features requires work and commitment on our part.  In only a short matter time that shiny new “answer” starts to lose its glow.  We engage with it less frequently and we convince ourselves it doesn’t really provide the value we once gave it credit for.

Now imagine that you did the same thing with your support staff.

Just like the treadmill purchase, we recognize that we could really benefit from this outsourcing support but when the talent is right there, ready, willing and excited to be the answer to our problems, we do not maximize their potential because we have to be in control of everything.  After all, it’s our company, our brand, and our clientele.  It is critical that we provide the best and who else can do that but us, right?  What we don’t realize or acknowledge is that with a little bit of training, clear communication and good leadership skills, we can get the same results from other people.

But if we don’t spend that time and make that effort, in the end, that talented support is like the treadmill that is now pushed off in the corner partially covered with clothes that either need ironing or a trip to the dry cleaners.  Not only aren’t we benefiting from their full potential, but they are feeling unsupported, undervalued and disengaged.  Sooner or later, their performance will diminish, they will quit, or you will let them go and none of these outcomes will be a true indication of what was really possible from the collaboration.

In essence, there is nothing wrong with the talents and skills of your support staff, just as there is nothing functionally wrong with the treadmill – but both are being underutilized and abandoned.

The solution? Start to relinquish a bit of the control you still have over the pieces you wanted to give up anyway – you don’t have to have your hands in everything to get great results.  Make a commitment to be available and regularly engage with the people who are helping you to create a better life for you and your company.  Start out slowly and gradually work up to giving away larger projects and bigger responsibility.  You can’t run a marathon until you can run a mile.


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