How to Manage Contract Staff

It takes a lot of work to manage your workforce well. You need to ensure workers have the tools they need to complete their duties, but you also have to motivate them so they’ll produce their best work. A professional’s underperformance may be due to external factors, but poor management often plays a role as well.

While it’s difficult enough to manage permanent, full-time workers, it can be even trickier to manage contractor chaos and get contract staff under control. Contract workers usually aren’t acclimatized to your company’s specific policies, and they may need extra attention before they can complete a task in a way that meets your standards. If you don’t provide this assistance, your contractor may produce subpar work and negate the benefits of hiring contract workers in the first place.

So how do you take full advantage of your contract staff? All you need to do is follow these easy steps. If you do, you should avoid the problems that plague so many other companies.

Don’t Skimp on Orientation

Employee orientations aren’t just trust exercises and training videos. They offer new workers an opportunity to introduce themselves to important staff members, familiarize themselves with office policies, and generally get settled in. These are important for any hire, but they’re especially valuable for contract staff.

These professionals need to master their jobs quickly, so depriving them of an opportunity to learn is foolhardy. Instead, you need to take a few days to establish your company’s goals and processes. And while you’re at it …

Make Sure the Contractor Knows His or Her Responsibilities

When managers talk about contract workers, they commonly gripe about unfulfilled expectations. The validity of these complaints will vary on a case-by-case basis, but the root of this problem often lies not with the contractor, but with the supervisor.

In many cases, managers give vague, ill-defined instructions and expect their staff to render their visions perfectly. Contract professionals can’t read minds and they work in many different environments, so they may approach an issue from a different angle.

Don’t assume your workers know their roles instinctively. Give precise, detailed instructions right off the bat. If they follow these directions, you can slowly pull back until they can work independently.

Communication Is Key

Unlike children, contract workers should be both seen and heard. You should know what they’re working on and how much progress they’ve made without overloading them. The key is to maintain effective communication, just as you would with any other employee.

Email your contractors regularly to let them know you’re paying attention to their work. Set up weekly meetings or hold conference calls to go over objectives and adjust any plans. If you keep in touch with your contract workers, they’ll be more likely to deliver results that meet your standards.

Try to Foster Positive Contractor Relationships

Working with professional contractors doesn’t have to be a one-time scenario. You may need their particular sets of skills again in the future, and re-hiring them means you won’t have to train other workers to meet your requirements. Of course, your contractors have to be willing to work with you again. This isn’t always a given, especially if you treat them as afterthoughts or fail to offer adequate support.

That’s why you need to foster a positive relationship between management and contractors. Identify particularly adept contractors and offer them more/better assignments. Extend an olive branch to these workers and they’ll reward you with more dedicated, consistent work.

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Emily Schmidt

Emily Schmidt

Emily is the Contractor and Financial Operations Manager at Ian Martin. Her goal is to build teams that provide a world-class customer experience. When not analysing financial processes, ensuring a thousand people are paid or helping onboard hundreds of contractors, she can be found building tables out of wood. She hopes to graduate to chairs in the future.
Emily Schmidt