Organizations are becoming increasingly reliant on freelancers teams: they’re fast, flexible, and often cheaper to maintain than an in-house team. The only caveat? Freelancers aren’t always easy to manage. For best results, organizations must direct, support, and oversee the work of their freelancer teams on a consistent and disciplined basis. Jon Younger, the writer of "Agile Talent" and co-founder of 10x management, lays out four different approaches for supporting your external experts and teams.
How to Manage Freelancers
- Assign a roving chief officer or project manager. This experienced senior member of your team supports project managers and technical teams in the onboarding, utilization, and management of freelancers. More specifically, they’ll make sure every freelancer has a clearly defined goal, a plan of action, and effective interaction with their respective project manager.
- Create the role of “external talent manager.” This HR executive focuses on developing the freelancer network. Like the roving chief officer, they make sure there’s effective communication between freelancers and project management, but their main responsibility is procuring talent and building the organization’s brand as a top environment for external and internal freelancers.
- Broaden the role of your “chiefs.” If you have freelancers who serve a technical role, assign them a chief that is an expert in the specific field. The chief will be responsible for technical productivity, innovation, and the coaching and development of freelancers. This works best if the freelance team is internal.
- Leverage your project mentors. Companies like Intel, Facebook, and LinkedIn have used technical mentorship programs because they are proven to improve employee productivity and performance. If you already have a mentorship program in place, consider having your mentors adopt a team, both project managers and freelancers.
Takeaway: While freelancers are independent workers, the more you include them in the project and culture, the better the end result. Be willing to invest time to develop good relationships and encourage their growth. Of course, you should also check with HR regulations to make sure you aren't crossing the line into employee status.