I started working as a Digital Communications Freelancer or Independent Contractor (IC) about 9 months ago. I am thankful that the short ride has been relatively smooth, however, I can’t help but anticipate that sooner or later, I will be facing the same challenges as any other IC. That being said, I wanted to know from business owners and hiring decision makers what they found to be the biggest challenges working with Independent Contractors? Importantly, I wanted to know what those on the hiring end do to resolve these challenges as well. Below is a short list of answers on “How To Live Happily Ever After with Your Independent Contractors.” Much of the material generated here comes from responses to the following LinkedIn question: “What have been your biggest challenges working with Independent Contractors? What has you done to resolve them?” I encourage you to check out the responses provided on LI as well.
- COMMUNICATION: Although the person in the position of hiring an IC may feel as though they are articulating their needs and wants clearly — it never hurts to take extra care in doing so. Be sure to have the project expectations, deliverables, deadlines, communication channels, and check-in points definitively outlined in writing as well as discussed prior to the signing of any contacts.
- REQUIREMENTS: Frequently projects can start out in one direction and take a turn at any given moment. If you want to live happily ever after with your IC be sure to keep them informed of the project requirements in an ongoing way. If the requirements of the project have changed, let them know. If the IC you are working with is not adequately meeting the project requirements, provide clear and constructive feedback to get everyone on the same page.
- SKILL+TALENT+FIT: Although you might find an IC that is highly skilled in the industry, they may not maintain the creative talent to deliver. Or you might find someone who has tremendous talent, but does not meet deadlines in a timely manner. In either case, this person is not the right fit. Living happily ever after with your Independent Contractor means finding the best combination of Skill + Talent + Fit. This may extend the hiring process, but is well worth the search.
- REVIEW REFERENCES/ PREVIOUS CLIENTS: There is no one better suited to provide a review of an IC and their work than previous clients. Inquire about the things that are most pertinent to a successful Independent Contractor relationship for the anticipated work. For example: Ability to meet deliverables; Ability to meet deadlines; Willingness to accept feedback/constructive criticism; Consistency of work product; Follow up and follow through are a few ares of inquiry to consider.
- ENCOURAGE A SENSE OF OWNERSHIP: This aspect is a little more difficult in the way of living happily ever after with your Independent Contractor, but I believe equally important. For some it is difficult to be a degree or two removed from the actual work; however, if you don’t encourage your IC to assume a sense of ownership or professional responsibility for the project, you may receive perfunctory work product. If you want great work from your IC, encourage them to be creative (if possible) or provide additional ideas about how to move the project forward in productive ways. Remember: The IC is “in” the project, therefore, their perspective provides more insight than you might think.
By no means is this a comprehensive list. What have you found to be your biggest challenges working with Independent Contractors? What would you add to the list? Feel free to let me know in the comments section.
Hearing from those on the hiring end of the Independent Contractor relationship is quite informative; however, learning from other ICs about their challenges can provide some additional insight into how to maintain a positive and productive working relationship. Keep an eye out for the other half of this piece: “How to Live Happily Ever After AS AN Independent Contractor.”