Jag Venugopal's Blog

May 18, 2009

How do you treat your contract employees?

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 10:11 pm
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Most project managers in the IT space must have at some point or the other worked with a team member who was not an employee, but a private contractor. If you were in that position, how did you treat such individuals?

One school of thought says that contractors are compensated heavily when compared with “permanent” employees; therefore they are not deserving of the courtesies normally extended to one’s fellow employees. Adherents to this viewpoint insist that contractors must do as they are told, work the hours that they are asked to work, and in general have no business in corporate celebrations or outings.

It cannot be denied that contractors are sometimes paid a large amount of money. And some build up strengths in an organization so they become “permatemps”. Highly paid ones at that. I’ve worked with one contractor who pulled in a quarter of a million a year. And I thought highly of him.

My thought is this… when a contractor is in a significant position to affect your project, either positively or negatively, then they are deserving of the same respect, regard, courtesies and motivation that you provide any of your team members. You really need to ask yourself: for my project to succeed, does this person need to produce at her best? Does their motivation matter? Do I need them to become a team member rather than an hourly-wager?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then I would recommend that you treat contractors with the same regard as you would any other member of your team. This would include taking time to keep them abreast of the context in which the project is operating, seeking their input when project decisions are made (depending on their level of knowledge and capability, of course), and involving them as equal members in team celebrations. When the inevitable push comes to shove, rather than bark orders, paint an honest picture and seek their help in accomplishing whatever it is that you want accomplished. They’re just as human as your other team members.

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