Many companies including my own will hire contracted employees on a temporary or trial basis before hiring them full time. As independent contractors and contracted firms are not classified as employees, this means they you do not have the legal right to manage them as if you were their employer.
When working with contractors, you generally cannot have any say as to when, how and where they perform their job. By law, the only thing you can control is their outcome -- whether the job was completed, if it was on time, and if they met the defined expectation of quality for the deliverable.
Just like in our personal lives, whenever we enter into a new business relationship there is always the expectation that everything will turn out for the best. Here's how to be prepared when the honeymoon period wears off.
1. Get everything in writing.
A statement of work, or SOW, is the first step to engaging any new business contract. Make sure it clearly states what your milestones and outcomes are.
This step can take a lot of time to do but thankfully there are templates available to help you from SmartSheet and Plan.io to save you some of that. It will definitely save you headaches later on.
2. Pay attention to the details.
Years ago, while working on a large project for Starbucks, my team and I kept running into roadblocks that caused us to miss our deadlines. After further discussion with the client, we determined that they were relying on another team to complete their tasks on time for our project to move forward.
Before beginning any work, make sure you have some sort of discovery process in place where you are able to ask questions and identify all items that will be required for a job to be considered complete and delivered.
3. Get independent verification.
On one situation, I was asked to facilitate between a client and contractor where communication had broken down so much that they wouldn't even sit face to face. Once I gave a dispassionate evaluation of their work, everyone was able to start talking again.
If things have gotten off track, emotions can get heated and you may not be the best judge of the quality of work being turned in. In this case, turn to a neutral third-party who is familiar with the business objectives to evaluate the output.
4. Fulfill any obligations.
During the mediation of a dispute between a client and their contracted vendor, I discovered that both sides had missed items that were clearly defined in their agreement. Rather than wasting money and time over arguing, they simply canceled the contract and moved on.
Every contract has termination clauses built in for a reason -- on both sides. If one side isn't living up to their contractual agreements, the other side has the right to end the contract -- or to dispute it.
5. Remember your manners.
As a contractor for the Naval Research Labs, I was given a project to complete and finished it as directed, but I didn't particularly enjoy the work. When offered a new contract at the same terms, I chose not to accept, but I was polite about it and remained friendly with my colleagues.
At the end of the day, contractual agreements are put into place to protect both parties -- to ensure that the stated work is being delivered and that it is compensated at an agreed rate. If something you care about isn't in the contract you agreed to, you can renegotiate it next time or let it lapse.
With these simple steps, you should be able to free yourself of any of those clients or contractors that are holding you back -- with minimal drama.