The Virtual Liaison
Liaison is a funny word. In my mind, it conjures up images of some secretive…
Hiring freelancers can be a great decision for your business. The benefits are obvious: flexible work arrangements, affordable hourly rates, and no long-term commitments. Your freelance team even allows you to tap into expertise beyond the confines of your city, state, or country.
On the other hand, dealing with freelancers can sometimes feel like a bigger headache than it’s worth. Especially when they say wacky things.
In this article, I’ll share five things you hope to never hear freelancers say.
In today’s online world, freelancers use countless online web apps to run their businesses. Instant messenger, email, social media, text messages…the list goes on and on. Although these lines of communication are great, they also present a number of security risks for you and your freelancers. With so many usernames and passwords to keep straight, you’re at the mercy of your freelancer’s ability to keep his or her account secure.
It’s therefore disconcerting when a freelancer sends you a suspicious link (no, you don’t really want to hear about an amazing weight loss secret!). If you are connected to a hacked account, email contents and shared documents can be at risk. Of course, there’s also the immediate risk of acquiring some nasty virus (I’m not talking about bronchitis).
Hackers are getting more creative on how they disguise spam and access your info. Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with this situation, but virtual teams are increasingly vulnerable.
Suggestion: Ask your team (freelancers included) to update their passwords on a regular basis.
There are countless project management systems floating around the web these days. If you’ve already invested in a project management system, it’s particularly frustrating when freelancers claim they forgot to complete certain tasks.
Forgetfulness by a freelancer is not only annoying, but it can lead you to question your team’s overall reliability.
Suggestion: Set up recurring reminders in your project management system.
You’re a generous person. And, you realize that your freelancers are in business for themselves. Despite this being true, it’s still painful when freelancers consistently demand rate increases. Just because they’ve found new clients who are willing to pay more, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should follow suit. After all, your relationship stands on its own – right?
From the freelancer’s perspective, however, your existing business arrangement can almost become a commodity (especially when other clients are willing to pay so much more). This can lead the freelancer to be more aggressive in his or her rate demands, thereby creating another annoyance for you.
Suggestion: Rather than waiting for freelancers to demand rate increases, try awarding bonuses for jobs especially well done. It’s also wise to have regular performance reviews with freelancers, just as you would for any other team member. This can be a better forum for discussing rate increases.
You’ve made great efforts to create in-depth training videos, work instructions, and other documentation for your team members. Everything is nice and tidy in your company learning management system.
It’s therefore bothersome when freelancers ask the same questions over and over. You do want to be friendly and helpful. However, you’re just so busy that making time for even the simplest of questions sets you back. Over the course of a year or two, such inefficiency can prevent you from achieving your goals.
Is the freelancer that forgetful, or is he just lazy? Either way, you probably have bigger questions to deal with in this circumstance.
Suggestion: Once a week, hold a brief staff meeting (or 1×1 session). Remind everyone how to access the project management system and what you’ve added lately. At the meeting, highlight a “task of the week.” At this time, briefly recap the steps required for a high-frequency task. Also, invite your team to ask any questions during this meeting.
Managing freelancers can seem like herding cats at times. Although many freelancers are highly motivated and dedicated to their consulting businesses, some are rather transient, living from one billable hour to the next. When crisis strikes, clients like you are left scrambling to find replacements.
You’ve put so much effort in onboarding your freelance team. Why won’t your freelancers just stick around and maintain business-as-usual? It’s a question that plagues most clients.
Suggestion: Offer frequent feedback about work performance so that your freelancers know how attentive you are and how much you appreciate their work. At your weekly meeting, give a “shout out” to someone for a particular task done well.
I hope that these resources are helpful in forming your freelancers into highly accountable, reliable team members. They’re looking to you for leadership. Over communicate, continue your own education, and show confidence in your decisions.
Your bottom line will thank you for it.