How to Manage Freelancers without Losing Your Mind


According to a recent Forbes forecast report, by 2020 one in two people will be a freelancer.  The report also says traditional hiring is decreasing and the next team you might be leading could have many freelancers.

Managing freelancers is a bit different from regular employees, as there is no hierarchical relation with them. If your company decides to hire freelancers, how do you lead them to achieve great output? Here are some tips on “how to manage freelancers” that will help you lead your freelance workforce with zero difficulty.

Understand Their Needs

Before you discuss the project with the freelancers, first try to understand their needs. You can ask questions like

  • What do they expect from the project?
  • What do they expect from the organization for lending their talent?

Don’t assume money is the only reason they have chosen to work in your organization. There can be many reasons for freelancers participating in your company’s project such as the opportunity to work with great people or reputed organization, enhance their skill set, or any other reason. Once you know their expectations, you can help them achieve it.

Communicate Clearly

Inefficient communication with freelancers will often lead to an imperfect piece of work. You need to tell them exactly about your expectations and the needs of the project. For example, do you want them to refer to a particular source? Do you have a specific inspiration for the design?

Whatever you have in mind related to project, note it down and communicate it to them. Before starting the project, share as much information about your industry and target audience with them. The sooner you and freelancers sync, the faster turnaround you can expect.

Communicate the project and scope of work clearly. Ensure the freelancers know following things related to project – budget, deadlines, what’s needed, and deliverables. Don’t keep anything open-ended.

Make Them Part of Your Team

Just because freelancers are in your organization for a limited time or specific project, it does not mean you treat them indifferently. One of the important tips to manage freelancers is – you need to make freelancers feel part of your team.

Invite them to team and project meetings. Ask questions about their hobbies, family, and other interests. The main goal is to know them better and also make them feel comfortable which will enhance communication and productivity. However, take a look at organization compliance rules regarding sharing of important information related to project.

Don’t Micromanage

Always remember freelancers have chosen their way of work (freelance) because they love freedom. Though, discipline and guidance are important aspects when leading a team. It does not mean you micro manage their schedule or their creative process.

You need to give them enough freedom and flexibility in schedules. Remember, you might not be their only client and you cannot demand all of their time. However, you need to be clear about the project schedule and ensure your project work does not suffer due to their limited dedication.

Give Feedback

You should not restrict feedback to your regular employees only. Always give effective feedback to your freelancers. Giving them honest feedback will help them improve their performance and also build a foundation for better understanding.

The feedback need not be long and you can always limit it to a few minutes. Tell them where they went wrong, how it fails to achieve the project objective and ask them to align their work accordingly. Regularly discuss the sheet of work, the milestones they have achieved or deadline they have missed.

If they are doing a good job, praise them in front of others. If they are not performing as per expectations, you can always ask them to increase efforts and deliver satisfying results.

Pay Them Well

Always pay market rate to your freelancers and pay them on time. Freelancers often discuss their clients and their experience with their likes and your organization will get a bad reputation if you pay them below market rates. Chances are top freelancers might not show interest in your projects in future.

Since 50% of the workforce is expected to be freelancers by 2020, your organization should aim to become an employer of choice for freelancer community by paying them well.

The “how to manage freelancer” tips will help you keep freelance workforce motivated and happy. Always remember, the key is striking balance between leadership and managerial aspect when managing freelancers.

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