If you’re just starting out in your business and want to keep your team small and flexible, you could hire freelancers. They’re an excellent asset alongside an in-house team, especially when you’re running an agency.
Hiring freelancers has many benefits. You only have to pay gig workers on a per-project basis, which is great if you want to keep your small business expenses low. What’s more, you’re given the opportunity to choose different freelancers with different specializations.
This business strategy, though, has its set of challenges. They’re often working remotely, which means that they won’t be physically present in your company or team meetings. Also, they won’t be familiar with your company’s brand.
When you’ve got a diverse team consisting of independent contractors consisting of different locations, languages, and backgrounds, you’ll need to learn how to manage your team effectively.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Communicate with Your Freelancers Consistently
Communicating is vital to building trust with you and your freelancers and managing a project successfully. You have to do this consistently throughout the entire duration of the project.
Establish an open line of communication, so your independent contractors can discuss ideas and share their progress with your company. This is important especially if they’re working on a team project or collaborating with your in-house team. Regular communication can also prevent misunderstandings that can result in client complaints and cancellations.
2. Terminate the Contract as a Last Resort
You can’t fire an independent contractor. After all, they are not full-time workers. If the situation becomes untenable and the project is going nowhere, you can end the contract and remove the freelancer from your workforce payout system.
Take note, though, that ending the contract of a freelancer should be a last resort. If the person fumbles, work with them to resolve the issues. If you’ve exhausted all efforts and they’re not improving, the contract agreement is there to protect you.
If you do terminate the contract, make sure that you don’t re-engage with that independent contractor in future efforts.
3. Refrain from Micromanaging Your Freelancers
Whether you have several independent contractors to turn to as needs arise or work with just one or two on an occasional project, freelancers require management. Provide feedback and encouragement. Don’t, however, micromanage their efforts. You need to establish a level of trust that these people are completing their projects and managing their efforts.
4. Intervene If Necessary
If you believe that a freelancer isn’t making progress on a project or meeting your expectations, don’t wait until the project deadline to find out that the finished output isn’t arriving.
Discuss the expected milestones and periodically ask for updates. Staying on top of things will help make sure that the project finishes on schedule.
5. Offer Recognition and Rewards
The goals of a freelancer are to complete a project properly and on schedule, receive payment for their rendered services, and move onto the next job. So how do you motivate them?
Everyone appreciates gratitude and respect. If the project goes smoothly, offer the independent contractors who worked on a project a small gift or a bonus if that’s in your budget. Give them more work in the future, positive reviews, and references. Who knows? That awesome freelancer may be your next full-time employee if they want to join your organization.
6. Set Reasonable Deadlines
Excellent work, especially creative work, takes time. Don’t be that mean boss who gives last-minute deadlines, as this usually translates to working outside normal hours. Many freelancers juggle several projects, so they may not be available to accommodate last-minute requests or projects. When working with social media influencers who partner with multiple brands, reasonable deadlines are crucial.
This also means that you need to adhere to the deadlines you set. If they require something from you on a particular specified date and you don’t give them the tools or resources they need, don’t expect them to deliver.
7. Do a Proper Onboarding
Don’t forget to invest your time, energy, and money in onboarding new independent contractors. You shouldn’t rush them straight into the details of your time-sensitive projects.
If you’re going to work with them over an extended period, you’ll need to spend time getting to know them. Introduce your freelancers to your in-house team and explain your company culture and values. You should also take the time to go through important house rules, such as how often you’ll check-in, the best ways to communicate (Slack, Skype, phone, e-mail, etc.).
Some of these suggestions may feel a bit overwhelming and tedious the first time you do them, especially the part where you have to create an onboarding pack and document your processes. Once you have these steps done, the resources will all be there when you need them.
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