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Advice for managers: how to better manage contractors

Advice for managers: how to better manage contractors
OCG disambiguates management jargon to facilitate clarity of communication with contractors.

Management jargon is pervasive, corporate clichés cluttering conversations in every office building. Phrases previously limited to management textbooks and leadership seminars infiltrate meetings across the global market place. Motivating management monologues encourage us to ‘kick goals’, look for the ‘game-changer’, pick the ‘low hanging fruit’. Always action-oriented, we have to ‘get on the bus’, ‘move with the goal posts’, ‘take it off-line’ and ‘put it to bed’. Sometimes over-enthusiastic managers get the cliché half right, using the jargon mal-appropriately – talking about being ‘behind the 8ball’ when they mean behind not stymied, searching for magic not silver bullets.

Most management training will not only give you a deep vocabulary of useful jargon it will likely focus on how to manage permanent employees, those who tend to be motivated by career prospects and an appealing culture. While you might want to work ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with your permanent employees, and embrace a ‘walk/jog/run‘ philosophy, when you are managing contractors you’ll want them to ‘hit the ground running’. Rather than expecting you to take our advice on how to get the best from your contractor, we’ve asked a couple of our experienced and reliable contractors to share the ‘mission critical’ so you can more easily get the ‘deliverables’ you need from your contracting spend.

1. Brief thoroughly.

Put aside an hour when your contractor starts to brief them thoroughly on what is expected of them in the contract and what you want them to achieve. Give them an overview of the role or project and a ‘heads-up’ of any likely pitfalls or roadblocks. If you’re paying someone by the hour, you’ll save some expense if you can give them advice that will improve their efficiency within your organisation. Contractors tell us they work best when clear expectations are outlined at the outset. It also saves confusion later if you’re upfront on what you expect your contractor to charge for and what shouldn’t be included in their timesheet.

2. Introduction not induction.

While your permanent team members should expect a thorough, structured induction to give them a full understanding of your business, our contractors want to be introduced to the people they will need to work with to do their job. While contractors are used to being resourceful, working out who does what and who they need to get onside to do their job, they can be much more efficient if they are introduced to their new colleagues with an explanation of why the contractor has been employed and the purpose of their role. Contractors say that it is much easier to get the job done if people understand the rationale for bringing them on board.

3. Include and excuse.

As a rule, you can’t go wrong by including your contractor in the business. People like to belong and involving your contractor in social aspects will help them feel part of your team. This is especially important if the contractor is filling in for a permanent employee such as a maternity cover contract. You also can benefit by involving them in ‘big picture’ discussions and meetings. While it might not directly relate to their role, contractors find they can contribute more if they have a better understanding of a broader perspective. Having said that, our contractors think there is value in excusing them from having to be involved in every single activity. You’re unlikely to want to pay your contractor to attend every morning tea or ‘business-as-usual’ meeting. Allowing inclusion for collegial and project benefit while excusing them from distractions gives contractors better focus on the specific job they were hired to do. If you can find this balance, you’ll earn a reputation as an employer contractors want to work for which should make your job as a manager easier. A ‘win/win’.
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