Manage freelancers effectively by creating guidelines
So you’ve hired freelancers to help you grow your business. You’ve already given them their respective assignments and daily workload so they should be ready to go, right?
We all wish it was that simple. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Freelancers aren’t like your typical plug n’ play devices. You can’t just integrate them into the system and leave them to perform the way they’re expected to. If you want them to become productive and efficient, you need to do your part. You need to manage freelancers the same way you would manage someone who works in the same location as you do.
You need to create guidelines that you and the freelancers you hire will agree on so expectations are clear and performance is tracked closely.
So why, how, and when do you need to create guidelines?
Why do you need to create guidelines?
You need to create guidelines so you can stay organized and manage freelancers effectively. You don’t want people doing something you don’t like do you?
It would be difficult to produce good results without rules or clear guidelines because everyone’s doing things their own way. As a business owner, you need everyone to function as a single unit and carry a single mindset. They need to fit into the culture and have the same vision.
By setting proper guidelines, you are helping the freelancers you hired to perform their respective functions better. It’s a chain reaction from there. Good performance makes customers happy and happy customers mean more sales. More sales equate to huge profits.
If you want to see your business grow and stay in the game for a long time, guidelines are essential.
How do you create guidelines?
The guidelines you will set should be based on best practices that conform to your needs and preferences. As a business owner, this is something you create so you can manage freelancers closely and for them to know how to work with you. This is your rulebook so to speak.
1. Set Expectations – The first thing you need to establish are your expectations. What do you expect from them? What results are you looking for? By painting them a clear picture, you are giving them an idea of what kind of effort they need to exert to produce specified output.
Keep in mind that this is crucial because this will make the freelancers you hired aware of what they need to do and what they have to deliver. This is an absolute must if you want them to produce good results and deliver quality performance.
One good practice is to have them inform you 2 hours before their working time if they’re going to be late, or at least a week in advance if they need a day off. You can also require them a quota or a set number of product listings to complete for example.
2. Tell them about the Business’ Goals – To ensure quality performance and efficiency, inform the freelancers you hired about your business’ goals and how they can contribute to meeting these goals. Knowing the importance of the role they play can motivate them to perform at a higher level.
This will also encourage them to work in harmony with fellow freelancers as they work towards a common goal.
Is there a certain figure your company should have reached after for 2018? How many Facebook followers would you like the company to have by the end of 2018?
Keep them in the loop so they’ll feel that they’re part of something.
3. Flexibility – One of the reasons people go into freelancing is because of the freedom it allows them to work when and where they like. Unfortunately, businesses have different needs, and if you need them to work at a certain time of the day, you need to let them know.
Some business owners require freelancers to work alongside them and because of the time zone difference, and freelancers need time to adjust. This is critical depending on the needs of the business.
One good practice is to let them work whenever they want as long as it’s consistent. Another good practice is to at least have an overlap in your work hours so you’ll have time to touch base even if only for a few minutes.
4. Communication – If you want to effectively manage freelancers, give major consideration to distance and time zone differences. This is the reason why clear and open communication is necessary. Fortunately, there are tools like Skype or Slack that can make communication a non-issue.
With these tools, you can easily reach them and have a quick chat session or conference call. For any kind of business, communication is key, so make sure to talk to them on a regular basis.
If you require other tools like WhatsApp or Viber for example, have them install the said tools and tell them that this is the group’s official communication tool.
5. Set Regular Meetings – The best way to track freelancers’ progress and performance is by setting regular meetings. It doesn’t have to be long and formal. Just conduct weekly or bimonthly checkpoints to ensure that their performance is geared towards your business’ goals.
Having these meetings also gives them the impression that you care about them and their performance and that you are ready to listen to their needs and suggestions.
One good way to stay in touch and do your “floor walks” is to set a Skype meeting so you can give them updates and give them the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have. Set this recurring meeting on a certain day of the week so that you are both always prepared. Choose a time and day that is comfortable for you both so you can focus on the agenda without distractions.
6. Budget – It will also be helpful to inform freelancers about your weekly budget so they can track their hours. If they need extra hours to complete certain tasks, have them check with you first. This ensures productivity on their part and savings on yours.
A good way of doing this is to give them the maximum number of hours you would like them to finish a certain assignment. If you have a blog post you want finished, for example, tell the writer that you are authorizing 3 hours to finish the project because that’s your budget for this project.
7. Provide them the Necessary Tools – A good way to manage freelancers is to look at them as part of a big project. There are project management tools available that you can use to streamline the freelancer’s workflow.
There’s Asana or Trello for project management. You’ve got Google Drive or Dropbox so you can have a common repository. Make sure to take care of their access and onboarding before they begin work.
If your business uses WordPress for your blog, for example, make sure to give freelancers the appropriate access. You can also help them further by getting them access to proofreading tools like Grammarly, for example, by paying for an account that they can use.
8. Reports – One of the most effective ways to monitor performance is to have freelancers send you a daily or weekly report. Have them send you a summary of all the tasks they performed so you can check their productivity. This will also allow you to check if you are getting your money’s worth with the kind of work they are providing.
These are just some of the guidelines business owners commonly set to efficiently manage freelancers.
When do you need to create guidelines?
The short answer is ASAP.
If you’ve already hired freelancers, that’s fine. Creating guidelines isn’t really as difficult as it seems. The difficult part is the implementation.
As soon as you’ve completed your guidelines, go over it with the freelancers you hired. If you can organize a conference call, that would be much better so the words come straight out of your mouth. They can also ask questions if they need to clarify something.
You can then make this part of your onboarding process moving forward so that all new hires will be introduced to it before they begin working. You can create a PDF version of these guidelines and have them posted on a common drive for everyone to access so they can refer to it at any time.
Hiring a freelancer is one of the best decisions you can make as a business owner. You have to keep in mind, however, that your work does not end after saying “you’re hired.”
If you own a startup, creating guidelines is imperative so you can manage freelancers more efficiently and stay on top of things. If you haven’t hired a freelancer yet, it’s best to establish a set of guidelines now so you can include them in your onboarding process.
Creating guidelines to manage freelancers is essential not only for organizational purposes but also for effective management, and of course, the fulfillment of your business goals. Guidelines help you manage freelancers more effectively, help them perform better, and help them fit right into your culture.
Though they are usually based on your preferences, there are best practices you can use as a basis when creating guidelines. Set expectations, establish clear communication, and consider holding regular meetings when possible.
We want to help make your business a success, so if you haven’t created your guidelines yet, we urge you to do the following:
- Set aside some time to brainstorm guidelines you want the freelancers you hired to follow, based on your preferences and business needs.
- Write each of them down and leave some room for changes.
- If you experience difficulty coming up with them, you can browse the Online Hiring Resources that we have provided to get you started, particularly the Client Expectations Template.
- Review and finalize them, then introduce the new guidelines to the freelancers you’ve hired.
- Review and refine them throughout the process of working with a freelancer, and of hiring and onboarding other workers until you have your perfect system.
If you haven’t found the right freelancers for your business yet, sign up as a client on FreeeUp by clicking here so you can request for a freelancer based on your specific needs.
Noel Rosos is a personal development writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and founder of Life’s How You Live It, a personal development blog dedicated to helping people live the life they’ve always dreamed of. He is also a writer/contributor for Arianna Huffington’s wellness site, Thrive Global. He is an affiliate marketer, a full-time husband and father, and a self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST.