10 Guidelines for Partnering Well With Independent Contractors

 

Many of us are hiring more freelancers vs. full-time employees.  It makes more sense for companies who have multiple clients and a variety of projects.  Freelancers provide diverse backgrounds, different skill sets and a variety of professional experiences.

Hiring quality freelancers isn’t difficult.  Ask business owners who also use freelancers for recommendations.  Be sure to ask your full-time employees for recommendations (they might have a friend who could be the ideal candidate).   Best idea …. ask other freelancers.

The most important thing to remember is to treat your freelancers like you treat all your employees.  Why?  If you want them to be fully engaged in a project, they need to be considered a member of the team.  The one complaint I hear most often from freelancers is they don’t feel like they have a full understanding of the projects they work on.  This usually happens when the team is on overload and the company is in desperate need of another body.  They come in, we spend 10 minutes telling them what needs to be done and they are off to the races.

After working with dozens of outstanding freelancers, there seems to be a  consistent theme in terms of what they consider the best type of freelance positions:

  1. The position description has the true amount of hours required and the real deadlines listed.  Too many say 15 hours per week and they really mean 15 hours per day.
  1. During the interview, they are given the opportunity to ask questions about the project and the expectations for the position.  Often times the “interview” is a one-way conversation about the project and the employer just wanting to know how quickly they can start.
  1. The company hiring has used freelance employees (successfully). “This is our first time” and “we haven’t done this before, so we don’t really know what we are doing” — not statements that will send a positive vibe to a potential freelancer.
  1. There is a work station for them and it isn’t next to the microwave in the break room.  Make them feel like you are invested in them and they are considered part of the team.  Stuffing them in a supply closet won’t make them feel part of the the team.
  1. Give them at least 1 hour of on-boarding time with the person they will report to during the project.  A project outline with key dates and deadlines should be given to them on their first day.  Passwords and other key information should all be included in the project outline.
  1. Take time to introduce them to the people they will be working with.  Don’t have them introduce themselves to their new teammates. Awkward.
  1. After the first couple of days, be sure to check in with them.  Don’t wait until the day before the project is due to see “how things are going”.  It’s too late and the freelancer has probably checked out.
  1. Include them in all project meetings.  It may cost you a few extra hours of pay, but it is well worth it.  Imagine trying to do something with only 10% of the information.  Don’t let them waste their time doing something that might not be necessary because they didn’t have all the information.
  1. Know their name!  I recently heard a story of a freelancer being called by the wrong name during a three month project.  At first, she was too embarrassed to correct the employer and then she was just too annoyed.
  1. Include them in the team celebrations at the end of the project.  They provided a great service to you and the rest of the team.  Remember, someone will ask them about your company one day.  Be sure they have great things to say!

Using freelancers is a great way to fill in gaps, add talent and to assist a team who is on overload.  Take advantage of the great freelance talent available, but remember to treat them well.  You never know when you may need them again in a pinch … and you want them to say “yes”.