Evolving workplace trends have forced an increasing number of organizations to employ more creative strategies to secure the right talent. In today’s competitive job market, employers are turning to freelancers and consultants as a cost-effective solution for completing long and short-term projects. While this strategy is becoming more commonplace, managing the performance and expectations of a freelance employee over the course of a project can be challenging.
Heather Cianchetti, Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Creative & Digital division, understands the important role that freelancers play in a company’s ability to complete projects in a timely fashion. Since securing good freelance talent can come at a steep price, it can sometimes be hard to measure your return on investment. “Too often employers find themselves unsatisfied with the quality of work their freelancer produces given their financial investment,” notes Heather. “To avoid these scenarios, employers should take proactive steps with their freelance employees to ensure project deliverables are met within your budget.”
Whether your freelancers are on-site or work remotely, consider employing the following strategies to better manage expectations:
It can be tricky to manage a freelancer who works remotely, so Heather suggests a number of tactics to ensure they are prepared to meet the project’s deadlines:
- Kick-off meeting – Since employers typically rely on technology to communicate with freelancers, it is important to set aside one day before they start work to hold a kick-off meeting, either at your office or via Skype. “Meeting with your freelancer before the project begins will give you the opportunity to outline general guidelines,” says Heather. For example, this could include reviewing your expectations for different stages of the project or outlining concrete deadlines.
- Download time-tracking apps – Although you may have outlined your expectations, you still want to make sure your freelancer is using their hours productively. To do this, consider having your freelancers download time-tracking apps like ‘Hours Keeper’ or ‘HoursTracker,’ which will help you keep track of their hours worked, including breaks and overtime. These apps will help to paint a clearer picture of how effectively your freelancer is using their time.
- Routine check ins – To ensure the work gets completed in an efficient manner, avoid giving your freelancer free reign once the project has begun. “Depending on the length of the project, outline daily, weekly, or monthly check-ins with your freelancer to ensure they are in line to hit projected deadlines,” advises Heather.
If you have the opportunity to have your freelancer on-site, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure they feel a part of a team and perform at a high level:
- Technology set up – Typically, freelancers will prefer to use their own equipment/software to complete a project. However, this leaves room for technical complications, ultimately preventing them from hitting the ground running on day one. Instead, arrange to have a station set up for them that has all of the hardware/software they might need throughout the project. “Not only does this avoid any issues with software incompatibility, but it also helps make them feel like a part of the team,” highlights Heather.
- Team introductions – Along similar lines, give your freelancer the opportunity to meet the colleagues that they will be working closely with. This will give you the chance to provide them with clear directions on who they’re reporting to and the best people to ask for help.
- Provide regular feedback – All freelance employees, including the most experienced and highly skilled ones, need some feedback from time to time. “Regular feedback from their manager will help assure them that the organization is truly vested in the quality of their work and that they are making an impact on the business,” says Heather.