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5 Lesser Known Tips For Managing Freelancers Better

February 3, 2015

Now, I have been meaning to write this particular post for quite some time. For most parts because I have been a freelancer for half a decade and I get the good, the bad and the ugly that my kind faces.So, even at the risk of sounding a little pompous here, who better to tell you how you can put together a freelancer program at your firm (or for your team) in way that helps you manage your people better. I have dealt with the best of the kind and the worst too, so I am hoping that through this post I am able to voice a freelancer’s take on what a company can do to reap truly fantastic benefits of having ‘part time specialists’ on board.

5 strategies for managing freelancers better

1. Define roles, responsibilities and key deliverables clearly

I cannot stress this enough.Now, often firms that rope in freelancers to take over some particular project forget this altogether. I was once told to take on a certain writing project and get it done by so-and-so time. That’s it. No parameters, no communication guidelines, no templates and not even an emergency contact person in case I hit a road bump. While I did appreciate their unconditional faith in me, I did end up requesting protocols. Because at the end of the day, despite being an outside entity to the firm, I would like to know how my work is expected to function, what kind of people it will reach and what kind of outcomes are expected out of it.So, if you are considering roping in a few part time professionals — or already have these people on board — be sure to define clear roles for them. This helps us strategize for our work better and the outcomes are far more focused and productive.

2. Understand a freelancer’s brand and look for a fit

Many times the firm hiring a freelancer forgets to take into consideration the ‘brand’ that is the freelancer. This isn’t a haughty assertion I am making here; I mean it quite plainly.Freelancers have their own style of working. They have their own way of approaching a task and work at it in their own creative way. This is partly the reason why they freelance; because they aren’t quite the conformists typical full-time employees tend to be.So, whenever you decide to rope in external help for a task, take the time understand their style. See if it matches with your organizations’ style. At the end of the day, you need consistency and a brand style-fit so as to not dilute your brand’s overall perception, quality and stature.

3. Establish basic rules of function

Whether it’s a small project or a big one, it’s important to touch base with your team members frequently. It is essential to have everyone on a team know one another, identify roles, and discuss the scope of the project right from the start.What is equally important is to establish some sort of operational guideline. This helps a team function more effectively, clearly identifies expected outcomes at each stage of function, shapes accountability, and a chain of command never really hurts no matter how archaic this concept may seem to a few people.Here’s something you can start with. Put in place clearly defined protocols for sending and replying to emails, documentation, record keeping, and even defining what constitutes an emergency. One of the companies I worked with had a very clear structure for all this. Here are some protocols they defined for me:Emails: I was clearly told about the days and hours I was expected to be ‘on call’ / available for work, by when I was expected to reply to an e-mail and vice-versa, what constitutes an emergency email, and what should be the response time for it.Content Guidelines: A brand communications guideline was shared with me that highlighted the tone of the brand, the style it was shooting for and a set of outcomes it was aiming to accomplish. This helped me understand the kind of content I needed to develop and the kind of information a piece was expected to deliver.Documentation Guidelines: This particular guideline was put in place so that the team I was working with could easily share files with each other. A shared database allowed us to access each other’s work and retrieve files even when someone was not available on a given day.

4. Advocate use of collaboration tools

Everybody at Brightpod collaborates through the in-house app, and it’s just such an easy system for managing project schedules, timelines and task-lists. Resultantly, I have become quite an advocate of collaboration tools. And I attribute this largely to the fact that I have grown to embrace app technology quite easily. Apps are easy. Apps help address a problem niftily. And I can access an app on my phone. Isn’t that just a productive way of functioning?

5. Build a transformational relationship

freelancer program

As a freelancer, one thing I have missed is the prospect of growing within the microcosm of my work universe. I have always had very transactional relationship with my work clients. And the scope of my function had always been limited to the work itself. I often had to ask for feedback, and being told ‘it was good’ did not always go down well. What I craved for were opportunities of interactions that fuelled prospects of personal and professional growth. This would have helped me do my job better and grow professionally too, even though I had only been just a freelancer.So, there you go.These are just few things you can start with when thinking of getting part time employees on board. These recommendations are only first (but the most basic) of the many innovative practices you can adopt when trying to put together a freelancer’s program for your firm/team.

Meeta Sharma is an independent writing and editing professional from digital marketing domain. Loves marketing and everything about it.

Meeta Sharma

Meeta Sharma is a content marketing specialist and regularly writes about her domain and start-up life.

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