By Michael Solomon, Founder
Working with contractors can make a lot of sense for companies of all sizes. Sometimes the full-time hiring process takes too long. Sometimes the rockstar you really want doesn’t want to come on full-time. Whatever the case, when you do bring on contract tech talent, here are 6 simple tips to help you have the most productive and mutually enjoyable experience working with them.
1. Goals and Expectations
First and foremost, defining success in specific and measurable terms is crucial. Without it, you don’t know where you stand and if you have succeeded. This includes the creation of a mutually acceptable scope of work, timeline and budget. Estimates can work well especially well when the tasks at hand are new and/or novel.
As with all relationships, communication is paramount. You must define means and frequency of communication from the onset ensuring that you know what your contract tech talent is doing on a regular basis. Be clear about the kinds of things on which you want to be updated, how and when.
3. Single Point Of Contact
Part of the communication strategy needs to be very clear lines of reporting. If a contractor has three people whom she needs to make happy and they have different goals and priorities, there is no way she can succeed. Ideally you want a single point of contact that conveys priorities and information to the contractor.
As with managing any project, regular review and course correction is a best practice. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of the project and realizing someone was going in the wrong direction and could’ve been redirected with a little nudge had you only been paying closer attention and checking regularly. This is not to say micromanagement is better than no management. The right balance is needed.
5. They Are Contractors — Treat them that way
Don’t treat them like employees. This is for many reasons, not the least of which being that you can get in trouble with the IRS if you treat them too much like an employee (e.g. giving them a company email address, setting their hours, making them use your computers, etc.). Here are a few tips from Legalzoom regarding how to know you are treating contractors as contractors:
- The worker should supply his or her own equipment, materials and tools
- All necessary materials are not supplied by the employer
- The worker can be discharged at anytime and can choose whether or not to come to work without fear of losing employment
- The worker controls the hours of employment
6. They Don’t Need to be in Every Meeting
Finally, your contractor does not need to be in every meeting and on every call to understand every nuance. They stay focused on the tasks at hand without the endless distractions of meetings and calls on topics that are only mildly related to their engagement. As with managing anyone, giving them a sense of context and inspiring them will get you a better result so don’t treat them like a machine.
Working with contractors can be amazing. They are most often professional, diligent, and self-directed. One of the great benefits of having a contract tech worker is their profound efficiency when managed properly. If you are clear with them about a very specific set of tasks and you have the discipline to stick with that, they are the most efficient workers available.
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