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Performance Management for your Contingent Workforce

  • Publish Date: Posted about 6 years ago
  • Author: Taylor Varco

When people work for you, there's a set of expectations to do right by them when it comes to performance management. But the rules are different when you're managing a contractor who isn't fully employed by your company. How do you motivate someone you don't have formal authority over? How do you keep them invested in company goals when they don't reap the same benefits as full-time employees? 

The contingent workforce is a growing population with no signs of slowing down. There's several reasons for that, certainly one is cost efficiency, but also speed, flexibility, and innovation. These are external professionals that your organization increasingly count on to complete special projects and meet critical needs. When it comes to engaging with contingent talent and gaining the greatest productivity from your investment – performance management is the missing link. 

Many organizations aren't set up to benefit from the investment they put into contingent labor. Here are 6 tips to close the performance alignment gap with contract employees: 

Share Information 

Avoid excluding your contractors from any critical meetings or group discussions that provide helpful context for the work their completing. Understanding the why behind their work helps them understand its importance and keeps them invested in the project. 

Measure Beyond KPIs 

Analyzing cost, timing and quality is certainly important but it isn't enough when evaluating employee performance. Your contractors want to know the details, just like any other employee. Coming into new situations, they might be particularly concerned about cultural issues or other "soft" factors that often go unsaid but can create conflict and additional cost. 

Encourage Communication 

Be sure everyone on your workforce feels comfortable and able to communicate concerns and issues before they start affecting a project. Leaders should especially encourage their contractors to communicate as they may feel it's not their place.  

Demonstrate good boundaries with two-way feedback 

When asking contractors for feedback, often you'll see more teeth grinding than participation. The right boundaries are important to set early on when it comes to two-way feedback. This includes setting expectations to talk about the issues, not individuals. 

Ensure Your Team is in the Right Place 

Many managers assume there's no need to invest in contingent workers as much are their full-time employees. Make sure the right managers are responsible for supervising with a performance and developmental mind-set. Some may want to evaluate performance but lack in seeing the value of providing effective developmental coaching. The best managers for your contractors will focus on both, just like they do for full-time employees. 

Acknowledge and Share Good News and Achievements 

Contractors are just as motivated by appreciation and recognition as other employees. Sometimes even more so, as client satisfaction is the basis for their career success. Recognition can be as simple as quick public praise or personal note. 

The contingent workforce population is growing as leaders are increasingly looking for more ways to achieve speed, cost efficiencies, and innovation while maintaining quality. While the rules are slightly different, you still need to provide active and thoughtful management to reap the full benefits of your investment.