Once you’ve assembled a group of amazing contractors who love and support your business, crank out top-notch work, and gel as a team, the last thing you want is for one of them to bail. OK, actually, the last thing you want is for ALL of them to bail!
In the current gig economy, many freelancers have their pick of assignments, so keeping your team happy should be a high priority.
If you want your team to stick around for the long-term and truly help you expand your business footprint, happiness isn’t all they’ll need, though. From the time you hire them, through training, and into entrusting them with real independence, there are steps you can take to make them feel valued and keep them fully engaged.
Here are some of the tactics I’ve used to forge lasting, productive, meaningful relationships with my own fabulous contractors.
1. Build a lasting team by hiring business-minded contractors
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enlisting someone from Fiverr for a quick, one-off job. If you want to assemble a team with some staying power, however, you’ll need to look elsewhere!
The folks most likely to stick around are the ones who already have a business mindset and are truly interested in the entrepreneurial world. Anyone looking for part-time work or short-term income will have her eye on the door from the moment you hire her.
So screen your contractors. Ask about their goals and interests, find out what drew them to your business, get a read on where they’d like to be in a year or two.
If you hire freelancers who have a natural knack for business, you’ll be able to mentor them into being skilled, long-term team members.
2. Make freelancers feel valued by training and promoting them
Many solopreneurs are reluctant to invest too much time in getting new team members up to speed, but my dear, I’m here to tell you that training your contractors is essential!
When your people are fluent in all of your business practices and procedures, they need less supervision and can even begin creating their own standard operating procedures (SOPs). More than that, training a newbie shows her that you are invested in her, want her to feel empowered and comfortable, and expect her to contribute for months and years to come.
Once your contractors are fully trained, keep a sharp eye on their progress. When individuals prove that they’ve mastered their current workloads, increase their responsibilities. And when you do, make a big deal out of it!
Praise them publicly and frame the new assignments as a promotion. Doing this helps team members feel seen and appreciated, which may encourage them to work harder and stay with you longer.
3. Involve your contractors by seeking their input
Instead of insisting on making every single decision yourself, encourage your team to take an active role in your business!
Ask them to offer ideas for improvements to processes, suggest new tools or technologies to test, or research new marketing ideas to try. Contractors who are made to feel like they’re on the periphery of the business have no reason to push their way toward its center. So invite them in; make it clear that their opinions and input are important.
There’s no better way to build trust with a freelancer, and trust breeds loyalty.
4. Keep your team committed with monetary compensation
Money talks, my friend. It’s incredibly important to praise your team members, offer them constructive feedback, and involve them in key business processes … but at the end of the day, if they feel underpaid they’ll jump ship.
Reward hard work with unexpected bonuses and pay raises, proving that you appreciate both the contractor and the work she’s contributing to the business. Even $50 here and there can make a huge difference in morale. Pay without praise feels dismissive, but praise without pay feels insincere. Be sure to incorporate both into your team management plan.
5.Show your contractors you care about them … as people
Yes, you need your team to do stellar work, and do it consistently. But if all you ever talk to them about is deadlines and deliverables, they may begin to feel like robots.
Even remote freelancers need to know that they’re valued as people, and appreciated for the energy and insight they bring to the mix. So be sure to remember birthdays and holidays with cards or gifts. Send flowers and condolences as appropriate. And congratulate your contractors on major life events.
You don’t have to get nosy or stalk them on Facebook! Just inquire when it feels natural, take note of milestones, and show you care by acknowledging them.
Many of us obsess about building enduring relationships with our clients, but cultivating rapport with our team members is just as important. Use these guidelines, and you can create healthy, mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships with all of your contractors!