The liquid workforce is changing, are your managerial style and processes changing with it?
Experts and studies report that freelancing is the future. According to the 2019 Freelancing in America study, 60% of non-freelancers say it’s likely that they’ll do freelance work in the future. The same study predicts that freelancers will make up 60% of the workforce in the next decade.
Both companies and individuals are excited about the change — it allows businesses to pull talent from a larger pool of applicants, and freelancers can live a more flexible lifestyle. As with any change, we must adapt, which means our managerial styles need to shift with the workforce.
1. Develop a strong relationship with new freelancers.
When you work with a new freelancer — whether it’s a developer, content writer, or virtual assistant — starting on the right foot is paramount. Get to know your freelancers as people. If they’re open to it, ask about what they enjoy doing in their spare time, ask about their family and what inspired them to take the leap into freelancing, etc. In turn, tell them about yourself!
Studies show that freelancers often miss the camaraderie of being on a team in an office — as well as the banter with co-workers. A light, friendly dialogue will make your independent contractors feel less like task robots and more like valued team members. Building relationships with your freelancers increases the probability that they will want to engage with you for future projects.
2. Get contracts and signatures in place.
Before any work begins, ensure all necessary paperwork is signed — this is critical to laying down the foundation for successful freelancer management. This may mean different contracts for different kinds of independent contractors. A content writer, for example, may require different contracts than an accountant would.
With Liquid, you can manage all freelancer contracts from your dashboard. Basic Consulting Agreements within the portal are easily customizable, as are confidentiality agreements (CA) and non-disclosure agreements (NDA). Having all official paperwork stored in one place, accessible by all parties, eliminates room for confusion making it easier for both you and your freelancer to clear up any potential issues should they arise.
Download Liquid’s Independent Contractor Agreement Checklist as a handy reference guide.
3. Establish communication expectations.
According to Freelancing in America, 27% of freelancers chose to enter the liquid workforce after realizing they could set their own schedule and live a more flexible lifestyle. If you agreed to a certain schedule in the negotiation and contract phase, it’s important to honor it. Set communication up for success by establishing where and when it takes place.
With clear communication expectations, you’ll be well on your way to successful freelance management. If you work on the east coast but hire a freelancer from Australia, you don’t want to receive phone calls in the middle of the night, and your hire won’t either. Discuss your working hours and your preferred communication channels, as well as your freelancer’s preferences. If you have regular meetings or a weekly call, try to find a time that suits all parties. If the only available time is outside one independent contractor’s working hours, discuss to ensure they’re willing and able to be flexible.
4. Break projects down into bite-sized deliverables.
Now that we’ve established the importance of communication, let’s talk about how clear deliverables are critical to successful freelance management. Everyone knows that goals are more attainable when they’re broken down into measurable tasks — projects are no different. To ensure your project deadlines are met and your team is held accountable, break projects down into tasks and assign achievable deadlines for each. By breaking projects down into clear tasks, you ensure you and your freelancers are on the same page — establishing successful freelancer relationships.
Depending on the type of project, you may even want to schedule a call to discuss the progress after each task is complete and provide feedback. Providing feedback throughout a project is a smart way to ensure the project is progressing towards the desired final outcome. With Liquid, you can Create a Project that details all tasks within a project including the information, fee, and due date. You can then assign these tasks to different team members, so everyone’s perfectly clear on what they need to do and when they need to do it. With everyone clear on the tasks and deadlines, your freelancer relationships will grow stronger — and your independent contractors will be more excited to continue working with you in the future!
5. Encourage, inspire, and promote growth.
If there’s one thing you can do to take your freelance manager status from good to great — it’s fostering growth, providing feedback, and inspiring your team. A leader who takes the time to help their freelancers grow will reap the benefits of a loyal network of independent contractors and a higher caliber of work. When providing constructive feedback, focus on the work, be specific, communicate clearly, and always be sure to point out elements you thought were especially strong. Well-rounded feedback encourages progress and inspires growth. Keep feedback positive for positive results.
As the nature of the workforce changes, so must we. An all-in-one software solution like Liquid can help. To better manage the liquid workforce and stay competitive in the evolving economy, follow these secrets to successful freelancer management and watch your team flourish.
Note, we are not providing legal, tax, or payroll advice. Please consult your legal, tax, and payroll professionals. These are simply to serve as guidelines based on our own experiences.