Managing freelancers can quickly become a strenuous juggling act. When you have more than a few freelancers working different tasks for you, you may find yourself pulled in many different directions. The distraction can become intolerable, leaving you unable to focus on what you yourself need to get done.
The first step to becoming better at managing freelancers is setting expectations. This step begins even before you meet candidates for your opening.
Prepare a set of guidelines that you want followed by each freelancer you hire. These general guidelines are the best practices that will serve to show them what you expect in terms of basic performance. They can include such information as your company values, other details about your company that must be understood and respected, and your personal preferences for anyone working with you and your company. Managing freelancers will be much easier when both sides are clear on these basics.
Prepare another, separate, set of guidelines for the specific task you are hiring for. These guidelines will help you and the candidates get on the same page about exactly what you need done and how you want it done. Include some information about the challenges that you and the company are currently facing. This will orient the freelancer to focus on performing tasks towards a greater end than just getting things done.
Share these guidelines upfront with candidates, ideally with your shortlist after the initial interview. This way, before you make a final decision on who to hire, you can get feedback from candidates on these guidelines. This feedback will help greatly in narrowing the list further to that one freelancer who is the best fit for your needs. When you set these expectations with each freelancer before you make the hire, you also pave the way for a much smoother onboarding process and eliminate many of the unknowns that can lead to bad hiring decisions. Managing freelancers is a breeze when you are working with people who know exactly what you need.
The second step to properly managing freelancers is all about communication. As the business owner, you need to take the lead in setting your expectations when it comes to actual performance. One vital component of this is how freelancers are communicating with you.
Set up daily and weekly check-ins with the freelancers you hire. These regular short meetings are invaluable to efficiently managing freelancers. They will take up some of your time in the beginning, but once you have built a foundation over the first few months, you will likely find that only weekly or bi-weekly check-ins are necessary. With properly oriented freelancers, posted reports and quick chat or email messages will likely suffice.
The key here is getting into the habit of communicating needs and solutions – for both sides. Freelancers need to know, above all, that you are available to them and more than willing to spend a few minutes each day going over any questions or concerns that they have. Freelancers also need to know that you are expecting them to give a clear report on what they are working on and what specific tasks they have completed. When you are clear on these points, managing freelancers becomes automated and you need only give a few additional tips and reminders from time to time.
There are many things that you will be keeping strictly within the core members of your company. However, sharing some key information with freelancers is necessary to build strong professional ties with them. Being informed of the company vision, they gain direction. When the mission is understood, they know they have a place in the larger scheme of things. When freelancers buy into your company culture, they see how well they fit in and are excited to contribute. This all allows them to gain real fulfilment form the tasks they are performing, rather than feeling like unimportant cogs in a big machine.
Sharing your goals and objectives is the most important part of this third tip. Goals and objectives are indispensable to effectively managing freelancers. Anyone working with you needs to understand and respect the outcomes that your business is striving to achieve, these necessary results that drive every task, big or small. Keep all freelancers in the loop about progress and changes to larger company goals. It gives them something more to work towards, and a sense of belonging that will make them more committed to the growth of your business.
As you conduct your regular progress check-ins, inject the connection between the tasks performed and how they impact your vision and goals. This information together with your guidelines will help freelancers to better understand the value of the tasks that they are performing in your broader plans for growth. Managing freelancers is a breeze when you are working with people who are aligned with and invested in your goals.
Applying these 3 tips on managing freelancers will help you find good people to work with. These freelancers won’t just be there to put in hours and get paid, but will be purposefully investing more of themselves into helping you achieve your business goals. You will be hiring and managing freelancers who respect you and your business because they understand what you stand for and how they are making a positive impact as part of the bigger picture. You will have freelancers working with you who share your vision and your passion and want to go the extra mile for you – even bringing you other like-minded, highly skilled workers to support your efforts.
Take the first step today by revisiting your company charter and drafting out those guidelines. Once you have these, you can spend as little as 20 minutes of your time to find and hire that next stellar freelancer to help you push your business forward.
Julia Valdez is a professional teacher and decades-long lover of the art of words on paper, the stage and the big screen. She spends most of her time doing freelance content and project management, community volunteer work with the Philippine Advocates for Resilient Communities, adventuring with the Greenhouse Christian Fellowship, and sharing lots of laughs over little crazy things.
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