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Tips for managing freelancers and contractors

Businesses of all sizes occasionally need to turn to outside help to get tasks done. Whether you work with contractors on a consistent basis or for one-off occurrences, you’ve probably found yourself wondering: How do I manage this person?

You don’t have formal authority over them, and they don’t receive the perks and benefits of full-time employment at your company. Regular motivators that might work with your full-time staffers may not apply to freelancers or contractors. But it’s important to have a healthy relationship with outside contractors. Here’s a few tips on how to foster and maintain a good relationship with freelancers.

Set expectations

From the outset, both sides should be clear about what they want in this business relationship. It could be money, a chance to develop new skills, building out a network or myriad other factors. When you first meet with a contractor, ask a simple question: Why are you interested in doing this job? This will spark conversation and ensure you understand the freelancer’s expectations.

This works the other way as well. You need to be clear about what you want in return — standards of work, processes to follow, deadlines, etc. Because contractors aren’t ingrained in your company, you need to take extra time to explain the project and how it connects to a particular company goal.

What you don’t want to become is a micromanager. Freelancers are used to working on their own — it’s their business, too. Give them the trust they deserve after you’ve set clear expectations. If the contractor doesn’t fulfill their obligations, then a separate discussion or process is warranted.

Relationship building

Building bonds is particularly important for those who work with freelancers on a consistent basis. You almost have to treat them as an employee because making the relationship transactional doesn’t benefit either sides. When you first meet the freelancer, ask them about their personal life — their family, background, professional goals. Understand their perspective, just like you would any employee.

You can take it a step further and even make them feel like a part of your company’s team. Contractors can often feel like the odd person out, but you can invite them into team meetings about the project, include them on email lists or invite them out for lunch. This is obviously dependent on if the contractor is interested, but reaching out can often lead to great relationship and even better work.

A big part of building relationships is feedback. At the end of a project, give constructive criticism while also complimenting them on what they did well. Continuous feedback is even better.

Pay them well

Freelancers talk to each other, and word gets around. That’s why it’s important to pay at least market rate. You don’t want to build a reputation as cheap. There are plenty of online resources to figure out what market rate is for industry and location.

If you value the work the contractor does, pay them more. You’re paying for the assurance that the project will be done according to your standards.

NAWBO Member Q&A: Karla Rendall

Karla Rendall owns her own insurance agency, offering all kinds of insurance services, including home, auto, personal, umbrella and more. She’s active in the community, serving with NAWBO Iowa, Rebuilding Together Des Moines and at various local animal shelters.

Can you take me through your personal background?

I was born and raised in Cresco, Iowa. After graduation from Crestwood High School, I obtained my bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa in the field of education with a minor in special education. I then moved to Des Moines and started an unexpected career in banking for the next 17 years. Most of my banking career was in the retail and commercial area, emphasizing in sales management, commercial lending and cash management. In September 2016, I left the banking world and started my own insurance agency. Me and my husband of 13 years, Dan, and my two boys, Kole and Konnor, live by three rules: serve others as you would like to be served, show kindness and compassion to everyone around you and make God the center of your world.  

What is your profession/business?

I own my own insurance agency. I offer all types of insurance including home, auto, personal umbrella, RV/boat/motorcycle, landlord, vacant home, commercial general liability/workers compensation/umbrella/auto, professional liability, director and officer liability, and life insurance.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

My passion is in educating and advising others to make the best decision possible for their individual needs. Making connections with and building relationships with people is what drives me!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was young (and even now), I wanted to be a professional singer and actress.

What’s your favorite food during the holidays?

My favorite food during the holidays is turkey on a doughy bun with butter, salt and pepper. Of course, the baked goods are a close second!