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Have you ever had that feeling that your freelancers aren’t really pulling their weight anymore? Their work quality has diminished, responses are sluggish and their tone has become terse. What started out as a great opportunity has now become an awkward relationship.
Perhaps it’s a motivation issue.
Motivation is a common challenge even for in-office staff, but when you add the dimensions of freelancing and crossing cultures, there are a lot of elements of motivation you may not have considered recently.
When workers have great relationships with managers, they are much less likely to leave a position, even if lured by better pay or benefits. Their work excels and they are pleasant to interact with. Freelancers know how rare it is to find someone they love working with, and are usually much more loyal with managers that match their style.
There are many legitimate management styles in the world, and your freelancers have preferences. Do they prefer for you to check in early and often, or leave them to their work unbothered? Do you get their attention by being authoritarian or do they want to talk socially before the call starts? If you accommodate all of their requests, do they see it as a sign of goodwill or of weak leadership?
Some of these preferences are influenced by the culture they grew up in. As you get to know your freelancers, you might learn how to increase motivation in a way you never imagined.
One reason people get involved in freelancing is to get experience working with lots of different companies. If you have a company that is doing something more than just maximizing profits, share the story with your freelancers. Something you say may intrigue them and their motivation to do a great job will go up as they think about the impact they are contributing to.
Freelancers often live and die by recommendations, and your ability to recognize that is a big motivation. Praise can come in many forms: feedback on job sites like Upwork, a formal letter of recommendation, a LinkedIn recommendation, or a mention in the company newsletter. Find creative ways to show your freelancers that you appreciate their work.
Cash seems like an obvious motivator, and the world of freelancing creates some unique opportunities for you to increase motivation with money. Freelancers typically don’t get bonuses around holiday times; if you can afford it, consider showing your appreciation through a gift.
Many freelancers are hesitant to raise their rates for fear of losing a client. If you value the work a freelancer is doing, increasing the hourly rate is a huge motivator that builds loyalty.
The best way to motivate any person is to get to know him or her individually. Spend time with your freelancers when you can and learn about what drives them. Then, apply these steps to make sure the relationship with your freelancers remain mutually beneficial.