How to Manage Your Freelancer
How to manage your Freelancer or better results from existing relationships? We will show you what we do to make our Freelancer relationships successful.
You’re a manager or Business Owner and you’ve decided to outsource, but it’s a new thing for you and you’re not quite sure how to manage your freelancer. This can initially be daunting as the rules of managing freelancers are a little different to the way you handle your in-house staff.
You want your freelancer to feel interested and excited about the assignment and you also want excellent results. This means good management on your part.
You are obviously good at your job and have had experience managing an in-house team. This means that you are prepared to take on the job of managing your freelancer. You just need to take your knowledge with you.
Yes, the relationship between you and your freelancer isn’t as hierarchical or fraught as it may be with in-house employees, but you can’t be completely hands-off. You need to manage them in a way that gets the best out of them and makes them want to work for you again.
In this article we will be giving you tips how to do this.
It isn’t that difficult to build a relationship with your in-house staff as you see them almost every day, but is there a way to do this with your freelancers as well? It is important that you build up a relationship with them, but how do you do this when they could be thousands of miles away?
The first time you encounter them is at the interview which could either be via video chat or message. This is your chance to get to know your freelancers and decide if they’re the right fit for your company.
Ask them why they are interested in doing the job. Is it because they need the money, or do they want to obtain new skills? Ask them what they hope to gain from the experience. Another important question is why do they freelance? Is it because they like to have more control over their working life?
You don’t have to invest as much time in a freelancer as you do with an in-house worker, but don’t leave it completely impersonal. Every now and then ask them questions about their interests and family life. This will have the result of making them feel as if they are part of the team.
The reason for establishing such a relationship with your freelancers is to get the best out of them. If they feel that you are interested in them, they will put more effort into the job. This is particularly important if you are trying to establish a long-term relationship with your freelancer.
If there are any misunderstandings, approach them with care. You don’t know what it is happening in the lives of your freelancers in the same way you do with your in-house staff. Ask them if they have any problems.
Take time to integrate your freelance employees into the company. Depending on their role, you could pair each freelancer with a member of your in-house team. Tell the freelancer that they can ask this employee anything. Again, it will make them feel as if they are part of the team.
A great idea is to create a photo and bio sheet about your in-house employees and give this to your freelancers. In this way they can put names to faces and in fact take a virtual tour around your office.
Other efforts can also be made so that your freelancer feels part of the team. Keep them informed about what they are part of and make sure that they know who the company is and where it is going.
Tell them about their achievements and failures. It’s difficult for freelancers to feel that they are part of the team if they work hard on a project and then don’t hear of the impact it has had on the company’s goals.
The terms you set up with your freelancer are different to those you arrange with your in-house staff. For example, you don’t need to offer them sick or holiday pay. All you need to do is decide on the rate of pay and the length of time they must do the job. It is very important to do this, so everyone knows where they stand.
However, should you actually have a formal contract?
If you are hiring a freelancer through an agency, it’s much simpler as they will usually provide a contract which you can then both agree on. They put money in escrow and it is paid when the freelancer completes the job or milestone.
However, the problem arises if you do not go through an agency. Do you set up a legal and binding contract? If it is a large project involving thousands of dollars then the answer is yes.
However, if it is a very small project, do you really want to spend the money for a contract drawn up by an attorney? Yes, a contract can assure that both you and the freelancer agree on the project and the nature of the work. It will spell out payment terms, the due date of the assignment, and provide legal protection for both of you.
However, business is based on trust. A client or freelancer who violates the terms of a contract will probably do this whether or not it’s informal or formal.
Your freelancers aren't minded readers. You need to tell them exactly what you want to be done at the beginning of the project and what you expect from them. Put it in writing if possible, whether or not you set up a formal contract. Then there can be no confusion.
Each time you have a project discussion ask a question at the beginning and another at the end.
Have an agenda for every meeting. A brief outline of the topic and what is to be covered. This is an easy way to clarify questions. At feedback you need to listen carefully to see if the freelancer understands the goal of the project.You must be clear from the beginning what you expect from your freelancer.
Make sure it’s not too hard for them to accomplish the assignment in the time you have set out. Your freelancer may have other jobs on at the same time. You may not like this, but if your project isn’t big enough for them to earn enough to live on they will have to take on other work.
Collaborating is vitally important if you want to manage your freelancer. It is always paramount at the beginning of an assignment, but you can also speak during the project, and at the end.
Collaboration means good communication. To have a productive relationship with your freelancers you need to have this. You must treat them like a team member if you want to get the results you are looking for.
Here we’re going to give you four tips on how to communicate effectively with your freelancer.
1. Decide how messaging or emails are going to work. What would you prefer? Do you want your freelancer to contact you every time they have a question or do you want them to send a summary email at the end of the day? Will you or your freelancer expect an answer to a question at any time of the day?
Perhaps it’s better if your freelancer has set times when he or she can be contacted. This can be particularly important if you live in different time zones.
2. If you want to have a weekly status call, it is best if you set up a time in advance. Your freelancer doesn’t work for you full-time, so you can’t expect them to be available at any time you want. However, it is important that you check in regularly to make sure that everything is going the way you want.
3. You will need to establish a system in which you can go over what was said in any meetings. You won’t be sure that your freelancers understand everything that was said. In addition, unlike a member of your in-house team, they can’t just pop over to your desk to recap. It is a good idea to send a follow-up email going over the meeting and asking if there are any questions.
4. You must be careful about your mood and attitude. Perhaps you have bigger problems that don’t concern the freelancers, but they don’t know this.
They could believe that you are being short with them and it could make them uneasy. Try to keep other problems away from your freelancer. They aren’t in-house staff so won’t be aware of the bigger picture.
Another aspect of collaboration is dealing with the relationship between in-house staff and freelancers. Perhaps they won’t have a connection, but this is not always the case.
If so you have to establish the relationship between the in-house employees and the freelancers. Are they on the same level or will one of the employees oversee the freelancer? Will they collaborate more than the freelancer does with the manager?
One of the best ways to do this is by using GRPI; goals, roles, processes, and interactions.
2. Roles you as the manager need to assign roles to each member of the team, be they in-house or a freelancer. Also give them timelines. This is especially important for freelancers because they don’t interact on the same level as in-house employees.
3. Processes you need to create a process which integrates your in-house and freelance employees. Tracking projects usually works well, but an effective project will take time and energy to develop. Flexibility is also important so be prepared to change the plan if needed.
4. Interactions you need to create an organizational structure at your company. It can be difficult with freelancers if they are working in a different country. However, if you show integrity, acknowledge any mistakes you make, and keep your promises, your freelancers will enjoy working for you.
It is important to welcome collaboration from your freelancer. If they are happy asking questions and discussing the project, it can only be good. It shows that they are interested and keen to complete the job well.
Tracking the progress of the work your freelancer is doing is important if you want to make sure that they are following your brief. An easy way to keep track is by using a software program which keeps track of tasks. Both you and the freelancer can update this and you will then know that everything is going to schedule or if there are any problems.
You need to provide a clear schedule for the project so that your freelancer knows where he or she is going. Tell them what the project goal is and the time they have to complete the assignment.
You, as the manager, need to give this information to prevent potentially difficult situations arising.
Another important aspect of tracking is recording the hours the freelancer bills. This keeps everyone honest and helps prevent sticker shock. You most likely have a budget and you need to keep within this.
Of course, a lot of trust is involved here, but you will have an idea of how many hours it would take to complete the project.
If there seems to be a large discrepancy, you will have to talk to your freelancer. They might have a genuine reason why they have billed you for more hours than you anticipated; for example, the work might have needed a lot more research than you had bargained for.
We have already spoken about developing a relationship with your freelancer and one of the best ways to do this is by giving them feedback on their work.
If your freelancers, ask questions while they are doing the project be sure to answer them.
There’s no point waiting until the project is completed as you could find that they have not finished it in the way you hoped. Give feedback early and as often as possible so any obstacles arising can be dealt with early.
Constructive feedback is very important for your freelancer. Don’t just say ‘your work is great’, or ‘you messed that up, didn’t you’? Tell them why they did well in their project or why their work isn’t up to standard.
Feedback of any kind can help your freelancer. If they have done well, they will obviously be happy and know that they can carry on doing the job with ease. If they have failed, they can learn from their mistakes.
Perhaps give them a second chance. If they do the next task well, you will know that your criticism helped them and that they have learned from their mistakes. If not, it is easier to hire a new freelancer.
Most people love to be praised for their work and hate being criticized. Make sure you give negative comments in the right way. Tell them what they should have done and explain why they went wrong.
Continuous feedback is always the best. If the freelancer has been a bit off track, he or she can change what they are doing before the end of the assignment and produce good work.
If you want to manage your freelancer in the best possible way you will want the tools for the job.
When you’re working on different projects and using several freelancers, it can be easy to lose track of who is doing what. If you find yourself in such a position, use a tool like Asana.
With them you will be able to track your freelancers, what they are doing and the due date. You will be able to see everything on one page which will make life much easier.
This will enable you to manage all your freelancers calmly with this tool as it gives you an overall view of everything that is going on in your business.
Time trackers are also important in managing your freelancer. You don’t know if they are actually working unlike you do with the in-house staff. There are tools like the Timeclock on the Freeeup website which allows you to track your freelancers even if they are in a different time zone.
If your freelancer tries to cheat the system, all you have to do is compare the amount of work done with the hours logged.
Another concern with working with freelancers is their availability. If you use a tool like Resource Guru you will be able to monitor the availability of all your freelancers each week, which will make it easier for you to find somebody to do an urgent project for you.
Using tools to manage your freelancers can do you nothing but good. Although you don’t want to be peering over their shoulder all the time, you can still keep an eye on their workload and availability.
Can you be accused of micromanaging your team? Are you a control freak? Do you hate delegating work? If so, you will need to change your ways. This is the same in your relationship with your freelancers as well as your in-house team. It will, however, pay off in the long run.
You need to stop looking at the little details and focus on the big picture. Don’t get involved in the work of your team without consulting them and don’t ignore the knowledge which your freelancers have.
Your freelancers will perform much better without you looking over their shoulder all the time.
They probably went into freelancing because they wanted autonomy. If this is taken away from them, their work will suffer as they will feel that they are being closed in.
Freelancers have to be self-motivated and be able to work unsupervised otherwise they won’t last long as freelancers.
If you do micromanage your freelancers, you may lose valuable members of your team. They will feel as if you don’t trust them and leave to find positions where they are given the freedom they require to do their job properly.
In this article we have given you several tips on how to manage your freelancer and hopefully it has pointed you in the right direction for a successful business relationship.
We have shown you how important it is to establish a relationship with your freelancer. The more interest you take in them, the more inclined they will be to work hard and meet deadlines.
Be open with your freelancers. Tell them exactly what you want and by when. Then no misunderstandings should occur. Communicate with your freelancers often. Encourage them to talk to you if they have any problems.
Make it easy for them to speak to you. You don’t want them feeling nervous about asking you questions. Give them feedback on their work, preferably at regular intervals.
They will appreciate the advice you give them and it will help them to complete their tasks the way you want. Use tools to manage your freelancer to keep on top of what they are doing.
However, try not to micromanage. Trust your freelancers to provide you with good work. If you follow all these steps you should have great success with a freelancing team.