Chip Shots – Leading Independent Contractors

by  Paula Kiger  |  Chip Shots
Chip Shots – Leading Independent Contractors

Here at Lead Change Group, we know that problems are most effectively solved when individuals come together to meld ideas, energies, and approaches.

To use a golf analogy, not every shot is a long drive. Many times, golfers have to take a chip shot to move the ball along for a short distance, with incisive accuracy.

If you are new to the Chip Shots green, welcome. In our Chip Shots feature, our Leading Voices are invited to provide brief insights into a leadership-related topic.

To learn more, spend some time browsing the entire Chip Shots Series.

Today’s Question

Independent contractors now comprise 30-40% of the workforce. How do you build and lead team in these work environments?

David Dye recommends:

  1. Hire people who can apply the why. In addition to hiring for the technical expertise they possess, screen for their ability to interpret why they are being asked to do particular work and how well they respond to the reason for the work. People who lack this ability can be particularly frustrating contractors.
  2. Keep the why in front of your people. With independent contractors and remote teams it becomes even more critical than usual to continually revisit why everyone does their work. Practice accountability to the why. Celebrate when everyone succeeds in achieving or making progress toward the why.

Creating a true team where everyone succeeds or fails together in a common cause is difficult with contract workers. Leaders who are able to create a unified sense of purpose will excel as more people move to self-employment.

Mitchell Levy shares:

I’m a big fan of Odesk for building external contractors. I occasionally user Fiverr for one-off projects. Having clear documentation and expectations as well as providing continual feedback is the best approach for managing a virtual team.

Susan Mazza contributes:

Independent contractors have both more risk and more choice. If you want to attract and keep the best of them honor them by treating them as partners in achieving a shared future or goal. While you are at it treat your employees the same way. The employment agreement has changed for everyone regardless of the legal structure of the agreement Your leadership must adapt to empower and engage people by tapping into their intrinsic motivations and honoring those who choose to own the future with you.

Thank you David, Mitchell, and Susan for your leadership wisdom.

Have you ever supervised independent contractors or been a independent contractor? Share your thoughts!
Photo Credit: Morguefile

About The Author

Articles By paula-kiger
Paula worked for almost twenty years for Florida’s State Child Health Insurance Program. She is currently doing freelance work in the communications industry. Her Twitter bio describes her best: wife of one, mom of two, friend of many.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John Smith  |  27 May 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Paula, Chip, and Company:)

I find the trend toward independent employment fascinating, on both a professional and personal level.

The issue I struggle with most is that of balance. As an internal employee, my boundaries were easily set by the corporate culture … fairly clear, if not always healthy, “rules” for how employees interact. However, in the independent or entrepreneurial world, the rules are much less clear, or at least that is how I have experienced it so far.

When one works under a contract for services, it is not always clear what lines exist that say either that the person is going “above and beyond”, or conversely, “under and below”?

I know results or fulfillment of contract requirements are part of this, but I am talking about the more human elements of working with others, especially as it relates to leadership influence.


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