One of the more challenging aspects of our ever-evolving work lives is introducing a somewhat radical new concept to clients or decision-makers.
And while Tesla might be launching cars into space, the corporate world in general is a lot less open to change or innovation.
How to pitch teamlancing to your employer or boss
So, what happens if you’re excited about the idea of introducing a carefully vetted group of teamlancing professionals to your employers but don’t quite know how to broach the subject with the rest of your team? Well, the first thing you have to do is figure out how to fully explain this new mission to your boss or supervisor and then dazzle them with the reasons it will work.
Tell them what teamlancing is…
If you’ve ever taken an introductory writing class, you’ve probably heard a variation of this chestnut: “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em; tell ‘em; tell ‘em what you told ‘em.” In other words, don’t just spin an unexpected yarn, prepare them, share your story, and then lather, rinse repeat until they clearly understand your vision.
You can begin with this:
Teamlancing is the practice of collaborating with networked teams of freelancers who self-manage projects for your brand, or, if you’re an agency, for your clients.
In the teamlancing model of content creation, as used by ClearVoice, your brand connects with a freelance producer, and then the producer assembles and manages teams of freelance creatives for you.
And prep for your conversation: Download our ebook on teamlancing.
3 ways to explain teamlancing
If your boss looks at you askance every time you share a new concept, try to speak to her in the language she best understands.
1. Explain the benefits of teamlancing.
Before you even sell the idea, sell the benefits. How can your brand teamlance in a way that has the most long-term positive impact? How is this preferable to your current model of teamwork? Learn more about teamlancing benefits.
2. Present your teamlancing solution.
If your company is still falling behind on projected goals for this year due to shake-ups of the pandemic variety, present the idea of teamlancing as the natural progression of work.
3. Show how it’ll work by describing a teamlance project.
Or start slow. Instead of sketching out a massive workplace overhaul, come up with a single project that uses the teamlance model and explain to your supervisor why you think this will work. Then prove your point.
Remember to communicate every step of the way.
The idea of a teamlance solution is brand new and let’s face it, a bit unusual to most traditionally structured companies. The entire team at PTPioneer is made up of people in widely varied locations across the world from California to Macedonia to Peru. Because of this, CEO Tyler Read has been building all the skills necessary to make a teamlance setup work for his crew, even remotely.
He shared his number one tip to building a successful teamlancing solution. “It may seem basic,” Read said, “but the key to success when it comes to working with and managing teams is communication.” To take it a step further, he added that:
“Managers need to facilitate conversation at every opportunity using diverse means of communication. On top of emails, utilize quick messaging through messenger apps like Slack, occasional phone conversations, and video messaging.”
When adding more moving pieces to a project, it’s crucial to understand if and where something might get stuck. Talking through any hiccups means that the entire project flows more smoothly. And that might mean communicating in the medium your teamlancers embrace most widely.
As an example, Read said, “Most millennials share an aversion to the phone, especially when a simple text message would suffice.” Instead of forcing them into endless conference calls, he recommends providing “a quick messaging option that allows for more back and forth than email. However, text can still fail to foster relationships and meaning can easily be misconstrued. Regularly working in voice chats and video chats allows a team to truly get to know each other which will make them more dedicated to each other’s success and well-being.”
“My team has always been remote,” said Brian Sloan CEO of Very Intelligent Ecommerce, Inc. So while Sloan is in Seattle, Washington, he has “programmers in Romania, designers in Canada and Argentina and Brazil, manufacturing in China, and so on.”
He manages his entire team on Slack and takes the idea of teamlancing a step further. “I hire exclusively people who work as freelancers online. Some are in the US, but most are abroad.” Most people Sloan hires are “specialists on a particular kind of work like 3D images, or animation, translation, technical instruction, or electronics design, etc.” And for the most part, he doesn’t hire people who need training.”
Whatever you do, keep the communication with all team members going. Explain to your boss what your plan is to keep track of all project elements and players. That might include regular in-person or virtual one-on-one and group meetings for your team. “One-on-ones are important so that people are comfortable sharing things they might be otherwise afraid to share in group settings,” Read explained.
And assure your supervisor that you plan on planning out every element of the upcoming teamlancing effort. For Read, that means that for group meetings you should have an agenda. More than that, explain to your boss that, in that agenda, you’ll be building in time for “personal chit chat so group meetings are more fun and don’t become a total drag for everyone involved,” Read advised.
“Also, make sure to set aside at least a few minutes for everyone to share,” he added. “Yes, circle sharing may seem childish, but if you don’t do this, you’ll quickly have the same few folks always speaking up and the same few never sharing. The whole team needs to feel included and valued so be sure everyone gets their turn to speak,” Read ended off.
Quick ways to incorporate communications to your teamlancing project
1. Use the medium that appeals to them.
Whether it’s Slack or text, the only way to unify a group of teamlancers on the same project is to make sure they’re open to a particular form of communication. If they tune out, you lose momentum and continuity.
2. Keep track of everything.
Check in with everyone and let your boss know that you’ll be the point person to do just that. Go a step further and build that element into your project and add an appropriate amount of time for checking in.
3. Encourage everyone to speak up.
Groupthink is no fun, but even creatives can teamlance if they’re allowed an opportunity to speak and made to realize that their contributions are an invaluable piece of the project.
Now, about onboarding and training
One of the toughest sells you’ll encounter is explaining to your boss how you plan on managing the onboarding and training elements.
Ease into the process.
“For several years, I was the primary writer for a new business unit within my copywriting client’s organization,” explained freelance writer Roxanne Hawn. “We needed more writers as our workload grew, so I onboarded another freelance writer my client had met at an art event in NYC.”
Hawn and the new hire worked on a few projects together until Hawn was satisfied that “she learned our style and processes. Ultimately, she began taking on projects as the sole writer.”
The goal of teamlancing isn’t to babysit your projects and the entire process, but rather to create a situation where once the initial training is completed, the teamlancing professionals manage their own project elements.
In Hawn’s case, one co-teamlancer was just the beginning. “As the workload continued increasing, my client asked me to onboard several other new freelance writers and a few other people in different roles.”
Hawn shared some details of the onboarding process which included “a webinar-like meeting with a slide deck — covering everything from workflows and draft templates to what to expect when our team traveled together during the content discovery process, including how to invoice travel expenses, what to wear, and which meals together were considered mandatory and which ones weren’t.”
Since things were so carefully planned and executed, all project management flowed easily and continuously.
Consider coaching the newbies.
If you’re the person introducing the idea of teamlancing to your company, be prepared to embrace new elements of the projects as well.
For Hawn, that meant that “In addition to the onboarding, I also would make an editing pass through new writers’ drafts before anyone else saw them. I provided content and style coaching as needed.”
Once she felt like a new writer gained a good feel for the work, she stopped reviewing drafts in advance. “For example, if a new writer’s work included five campaigns,” Hawn explained, “I might review and edit everything for the first two, then mostly exit the high-touch stage of onboarding.”
Let your client or boss assume full responsibility.
If you sense that your supervisor is antsy about handing over a project to a group of teamlancers, assure them they’ll be the top decision-maker no matter what.
Hawn said “I never had true management responsibility or accountability per se for the other writers’ work. All of us reported to the same person on staff with our client, but I did my best to set new team members and our shared projects up to succeed.”
Make yourself available.
Even with your boss calling all the shots, explain that you’ll be available for questions, rants or breakdowns for the entire team. Hawn did just that since “I wanted to provide context and coping strategies as needed so that people stayed active on our team roster.”
Teamwork is teamwork.
No matter what you call your newly formed group of freelancing professionals, you are in fact a team. “I’ll always be proud of our collaboration, growth, and successes,” Hawn said. “In many ways, this team functioned better than any team I personally experienced with on-staff jobs earlier in my career.”
The reason? “As a group of outsiders, so to speak, we had virtually zero politics or posturing,” Hawn said. “Everyone simply did their work.” More than that, she added, “I consider many of these people real-life friends, even though in some cases we’ve never been face to face.”
Don’t forget customer service.
Now that you’re ready to introduce teamlancing to your company, you should try to figure out how best to address your client’s and desired end-user’s need one-on-one.
Here are three things to ask yourself:
- Will customer service be in-house or part of the teamlancing element? Far too many of us complain about crummy customer service. Even if your entire team is virtual, consider paying extra attention to your customer service.
- Will your customer service team receive the same training as teamlancers? It’s also important to pay attention to the level of detail your customer service team will be provided with. To take it a step further, you might even want to set up a separate group of teamlancing pros specifically to tackle customer service issues.
- How much will they report back? A great way to suss out metrics and overall satisfaction is to track feedback and complaints.
OK. Now that you’re prepared to pitch a teamlancing model to your boss, what’s holding you back?