More and more companies are utilising freelancers or contractors to undertake key business tasks or projects. It could be engaging a graphic designer to redesign the website, or perhaps it’s employing a copywriter to draft the annual report. Whatever the specific task may be, if you’re the manager in charge it can be a tricky relationship. You don’t have the same connection that you do with team members that report to you directly and that you see on a daily basis. And it’s difficult to have the same level of oversight and control that you would have with an in-house project.  And so to help you navigate your way through the complexities of managing freelancers, here are some top tips on how to get the best out of the relationship so that it works to everyone’s benefit.

Be clear about what’s expected

Freelancers don’t have the context and background information that your in-house staff have.  They won’t instinctively know how you like things done and so you have to be explicit about your requirements from the get go. This means developing a clear project scope, offering examples of deliverables, reviewing work along the way and making yourself available for bouncing ideas and joint decision-making. Although this process may take some time to get right, investing in the relationship at this critical stage will save you an awful lot of aggro further down the line as both your expectations and the freelancer’s will be on the same page. What’s more, you won’t be wasting your time and money because the freelancer has misunderstood you or your requirements were unclear. Be crystal clear about what you want and you’re more likely to get a satisfactory result.

Pay your freelancers on time

It’s a very important courtesy to pay your freelancers on time, especially when it’s for a job well done. This is probably the single most important way to keep your contractors happy and wanting to work with you. Freelancers are just like your employees in that they want to feel valued and paying invoices straight away is a clear demonstration of the appreciation and the respect you have for them. If a late payment is unavoidable for any reason, then be sure to communicate that to the freelancer at the earliest opportunity and set a date by when they can expect to receive payment.

Invest in your freelancers

You wouldn’t dream of letting a new member of staff loose in the office without them first undergoing a comprehensive onboarding programme. And those companies that do the same for their freelancers, tend to get the best result from the relationship. Some measure of training is critical to make sure the contractor understands your company and its goals. So make the investment of time now in providing that essential organisational context for your freelancers and you will enjoy a more productive relationship.

The rewards

Get the freelancer relationship right and the rewards are many. Contractors can give you new ideas and a fresh perspective from outside the company. And with their specific expertise and skill set they can make a huge difference to individual projects when that level of knowledge isn’t available internally. Look after and nurture the freelancer relationship and it can be very rewarding for both parties.