I have been using oDesk for a while now and I have hired and fired multiple contract users over the years. I remember when I first started that I was constantly on oDesk checking my new hire's activities. It was so cool that oDesk was able to take a snapshot of what my new hire was doing and making sure they were doing work instead of robbing me of time and money.
The issue I later realize that I was wasting time and essentially money on just monitoring my new employees.
The basic thing I learned is trust. You have to trust your employees that you hire. Yes you are giving them some access to your business but that comes with growing pains. You have to learn to let your projects release from yourself and give responsibilities to someone who can do a a better and faster job than you. Having a team helps your business because it gives you more time to do what you do best, marketing, networking, coding, etc.
Here are somethings to which you can do to stop wasting time on oDesk.
- Set Goals for your Employees - This is the biggest thing you can do for your team and individual employee. Set a goal but make it a reasonable goal. For me I hire a lot of designers and developers. I have no clue about either title or the skills it involves. So I ask my developer or designer how long. I then add a couple more hours or maybe a day or two and set that as a goal. I do not expect anything yesterday because sometimes they will be interrupted by other work I give them which essentially will break their due date. I want to leave an open communication and create a trust window all the time with my team. I ask them and I hold them responsible for the date they have told me.
- Don't Micro Manage - Micro managing a team can be cumbersome especially in a corporate environment. So try not to do it with a team, especially if they are overseas. Looking at their screenshots on a consistent basis is micro managing. Constantly asking them what they are doing is micro managing. I give them a project, they give me a date, and I expect it to be done at within that time frame I gave them or they stated. Again it is setting goals and letting them do what they are good at and what you hired them for. Allow them to be free as long as you set expectations and hold them accountable.
- Create Task Management System - Be organized. I use a task management system by AppThemes called Quality Control. The theme is meant for internal ticketing but essentially it can be used as a task management platform. By providing goals for your team, they are now held accountable for their actions. A task management may seem micro manage but it simple is a place for communications and staying organized.
- Create Skype Group - Along with a task management, I also create a Skype group. I do not hire anyone that doesn't have Skype. It is an essential part because of free calls and ability to view each others desktop. Also this provides an environment to your team. They can ask each other for help if need be. Since I rarely see my team online, they have to be dependent and have the ability to think without my guidance. Creating an environment where they can help and grow with each other is important.
- Create a Great Work Environment - Everything above sums up to this. Create a great work environment. Just because you are not physically at their location or yours, does not mean there is no work environment. My team in the Philippines tells each other jokes and have conversations. Just because everyone is remote does not mean there shouldn't be a sense of work or excitement among the team. All I ask from my team is they accomplish their goals and hold to them.
When you first hire your first person overseas, look at their screenshot. Usually after just simple conversations with them you will be able to tell what kind of person they are. Do not spend too much time watching their screens on oDesk. You are just wasting time and time is money!