Who sets workflow parameters in your business? Is it a control-heavy CEO? Department heads? The HR people who bring in the muscle? If it’s any of those three, your organization is overlooking the experts on what it takes to achieve goals and innovate: employees.
Trends in hiring options show big potential for companies to boost performance and nail objectives by augmenting permanent staff with project-oriented contractors. Project-based hiring promises greater efficiency and a chance to attract expert talent on a case-by-case basis, giving your workforce more power and flexibility. But to call this a move toward outsourcing is to simplify the job that business leaders and HR professionals face first.
Embracing new ways of hiring will depend on taking a fresh look at how work gets done inside your organization. In other words, to slot the right workers to the right projects, those projects need concise definition, so the right people can be found. The tool for that task is culture. Build transparency and acknowledgment into your company culture to fully identify and hone your job processes.
Transparency Helps Outline Job Breakdowns
The key to contracting specific projects to specific talent is, well, being specific. If you’re looking for a full-time employee to cover a number of tasks, the old, broad job description model still works. But if you’re looking for a series of experts to carry projects over the finish line, you’ll want to pinpoint what you want those people to do, for how long, and to what end. You can use your permanent and rotating staff to help draw those outlines.
Since you may have many microhires, the best way to manage knowledge of the processes they’ll follow is to let everybody on your staff know those boundaries. A project may wend its way through several departments and dozens of desks. When your whole team knows what everyone does and why, anyone will be able to point a person or a process in the correct direction.
Transparency brings this information to every manager and employee. In your regular team-building interactions, create a role-and-goal component. On its face, this is simple. What does each person in the company do? Why do they do it? What do they hope to achieve? At meetings or in internal communications, quiz the whole staff, from the CEO to direct reports, on these items. This is the beginning of mapping workflow and processes, and it should be a perpetual effort, as new people come in and new goals need to be met.
Acknowledgement Reveals What Works
With multiple contractors cycling through your workforce, you’ll want proven processes to guide them. Who decides what works? In a supportive culture, everyone should have a say. Analysis of growth and market share will back up how well the company machinery is working.
In your initial process mapping, you’ll survey each employee and departmental reps on how they do what they do, and how efficient and effective they think those methods are. Then, you can confirm or reject process steps via their outcomes. To keep all of this front and center with employees, use an acknowledgment system that is open to everyone.
For instance, if Kate finds a way to skip a step and hit a goal more efficiently, a colleague might notice and call attention to her improvement. Then, the department manager may take note and decide to implement that process across the board. This is why an open recognition system is important. When peers and those up and down the ladder see which current practices or new innovations aid in job performance, they can adopt them as well or encourage others to do so.
Contractors Help Pay It Forward
Have HR or department heads document your evolving processes, so that there is a map of best practices at any given time. Your hiring and onboarding procedures for contractors will reflect these tasks and techniques. You’ll also include these temporary hires in your roles-and-goals education, to whatever degree is relevant. This may seem like overkill, but it will create stability in what is necessarily a fluid situation.
Now you’re ready to use those expert contractors to their full potential. The new skills and talent they bring to the table will further innovate your job processes. And their knowledge of your internal structure will make them ideal candidates for future projects.
But keeping contractors informed and in the feedback loop does more than just positively affect your workflow. It helps reinforce forward-looking company culture. An organization’s culture is a living thing that transcends who is on the payroll at the moment. A strong culture that highlights how work is best performed will serve whomever you hire, well into the future.
Chris Dyer is a recognized company culture expert among leadership speakers and consultants. He has channeled what he has learned in his business research and as Founder and CEO of PeopleG2, a leading background check company, into his best-selling book, The Power of Company Culture (Kogan Page, 2018).