Hiring and managing remote freelancers can be tricky. This series aims to help you deal with the 3 most basic parts of getting freelancers to perform at a high level. This first post on how to Master the Interview dealt with making the hiring process go more smoothly. The second outlined the key points to help freelancers Integrate Flawlessly. This last post discusses how to push remote freelancers to do better once you’ve hired them.
You’ve taken the plunge and hired a remote freelancer. They have now settled into the role and are working with you regularly. So what’s next?
Managing remote freelancers
Many people think of remote freelancers as static entities. If you pay them, and they deliver, then everything is working out great, right? Actually, you as the boss can do more than that. Here’s the last secret: remote freelancers are people too. They have the potential for continuous change. You can, gently and diplomatically, push them to become even better freelancers. And if you don’t, you run the risk that the quality of their work may steadily decline over time.
At FreeeUp, managing remote freelancers is our bread and better. Here are the most important things we’ve learned about pushing them to become better.
It’s essential that you build a relationship with the freelancer. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to meet with them on a consistent basis. Weekly meetings are ideal, but even a monthly check-in can be helpful. During the meeting, you have a chance to praise and encourage them, and to address any issues that have popped up, voice-to-voice.
The knowledge that they will be meeting with you regularly will help hold them accountable for consistent quality work. Having an actual conversation about what’s being done, rather than just an email check-in with a deadline, gives an extra boost of positive pressure that can push the freelancer to achieve more.
Schedule additional onboarding
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the business world, we could translate this to “an ounce of onboarding is worth a pound of performance.” There’s a temptation not to spend too much time onboarding remote freelancers. After all, they might not be around forever. However, that temptation too easily turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are worried that an issue might arise when you introduce a new concept or workflow, take the time to set-up additional onboarding. This will prevent future bottlenecks, uncertainties, and needless delays.
Challenge them with new KPI’s
What is a KPI? A KPI is short for Key Performance Indicator. It’s a measurable, ambitious goal that you can apply to a specific area of your business, or a specific person. You can read a little more about KPI’s here.
Don’t be afraid to challenge remote freelancers with new or increased KPI’s. For example, if you have a customer service rep who is consistently answering 20 tickets every day, you may want to move their KPI to 30 instead. Just make sure they understand that the increased expectations come with increased rewards. Managing remote freelancers in this way provides consistent motivation to improve.
Tie performance to incentives
Related to KPI’s, don’t forget to tie stellar performance to incentives. This keeps freelancers feeling motivated and appreciated. For example, you could ask the freelancer to complete more within their allotted time, but tie that successful completion to a target bonus. You could also provide special commissions for increased sales and referrals.
If a freelancer’s performance consistently gets better even without an incentive, you should still be sure to send some appreciation their way (via public recognition, raises, etc.). The positive motivation will encourage them to keep up the good work and ensure that they feel recognized. It’s also a great way to retain remote freelancers.
Have you had any experience managing remote freelancers? What are the best ways you’ve found to push them to become better?
Emily Bell has worked in digital marketing for seven years, tackling projects for a wide variety of tech and PR companies, as well as a few of Amazon’s top third-party sellers. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, Influencive, Addicted2Success, Forbes, and around the web.