Building a successful working relationship with anyone is a challenging task, and more so with freelancers who are not present in the office all the time. There is a difference in the way relationships are managed with permanent employees and freelancers. While some managers go all out there with the freelancers, others keep the relationship the same as their permanent staff. Both of the above-mentioned approaches do not work well with freelancers. Here are some tips to help you manage long and fruitful relationships with freelancers.
Understanding the Relationship
When you work with a freelancer, you need to understand their working style, experience, and lots of other things that contribute to the working relationship. Firstly, you as a client need to understand the fact that freelancers are not free, as their title, makes them seem to be. The freelancer that you are working with might have a lot on his plate and cannot remain available to you all the time. And hence, the first and foremost requirement is to shun all assumptions.
Most freelance workers have a routine just like a permanent employee has. Freelancers, at times, are busier than regular employees, as they have to handle all the responsibilities that generally a team handles in an office setting. Clients need to respect freelancers for everything they are. This will help set the tone of the relationship right from the beginning.
Decide the communication channel
While you prefer sending a brief on WhatsApp, your freelance worker might not be comfortable with this channel of communication. Hence, instead of imposing the medium of working, you can ask what is comfortable for the person and start using it for their convenience. Alternatively, you can mutually decide on the channel, even before assigning the work.
Every freelancer worker’s habits and mode of working are different. Some might want to keep their personal and private life different and hence, avoid communicating on WhatsApp or Instagram. Clients need to stick to professional communication channels in such cases. Further, the content of the communication matters as well.
The content of the communication is different for permanent employees and freelancers. Instead of sending the same emails to both kinds of employees, check what information is important to freelancers. Personalize the communication to build a good working relationship. Alternatively, going incommunicado is also a problem. You need to balance the communication content.
Set up a platform
Employees become excellent contributors when they get the right resources and the right amount of freedom. Setting up a platform where freelancers can communicate their requirements of tools and resources without any inhibitions is a good start.
Both permanent employees and freelancers need to get access to resources that will help them excel at their art. When you become the client that hones the skills of the freelancers, they will always give you preference. Going the extra mile to help freelancer workers makes you a dependable client.
Mode of working
Deciding on the mode of working at the beginning of the relationship helps set clear expectations. When the expectations are clear, both freelancer and the client will not face any problems later on. Communicate the brief to the freelance workers and you will get work that meets your standards.
When the criteria are set at the very start, the amount of re-work is reduced and it becomes easy to beat the deadlines. There might be a few glitches in the beginning. However, instead of taking those glitches as the base, give another chance to the freelancer. It takes a freelancer to sink into the project at times. Giving a proper brief might help you extract better work.
When the work does not meet expectations, clients are disappointed. They show their disappointment and make it clear that hard work needs to be done. However, at times, the freelance worker puts in a great effort but does not get any appreciation for the same. Clients must understand that appreciation help motivates the workers.
Freelancer workers are not permanent employees. They do not receive regular feedback just like regular employees do. When they can receive brickbats for below-average work, they should also get credit for good work done. This becomes the basis for a strong relationship between the client and the freelance worker.
Make them a teammate
Freelance workers should be treated as a part of the team. Many freelancers work as regularly and efficiently as regular team members, but still, they do not receive the same status. They do not receive the accolades, just the brickbats. There are several ways in which you can make freelancers feel like a part of your team.
In the initial phase of work, a freelancer might face difficulties in certain areas. Instead of leaving them on their own, you can check on them on a regular basis. This will help them offer you good work within the set deadlines. Connect your freelancer with other members of your team to help them. However, do not go overboard with checking. This might hinder their freedom.
Just like regular employees receive feedback on their work, freelance workers too should receive that. Performance reviews are very important to build a strong and successful relationship with freelance workers. It allows the client to define the roles of the employee as well.
When freelance workers are given feedback, it becomes a basis for them to reflect on their work, plan future work and even review their style of working. Performance review discussions should be healthy instead of a blame game.
Meet Payment Deadlines
Sometimes clients prefer paying freelancers in the last. Companies first clear the payments of the permanent staff, then the vendors and then comes the turn of the freelancers. Sometimes, freelancers do not get paid for a long period of time in spite of regular follow-ups.
Clients should understand that a freelancer needs payment to execute certain tasks. A freelancer plays many roles. It becomes difficult for the person to follow up with the client several times. When payments are made on a regular basis, it is motivating and beneficial for the freelance worker. This even helps set the right tone for the relationship between the client and the freelancer.
In the End
There’s no secret to a long-lasting and fruitful relationship. When clients take care of the freelancers in a format that’s pre-decided and mutually agreed upon, then it helps a lot. While it is easy to onboard freelance workers, maintaining a good working relationship might be challenging if regular work ethics are not followed. Clients should understand that while kindness does not cost a penny, being rude or indifferent might turn out to be very expensive in the end.