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How to Work Effectively with Independent Contractors

The keys to success are communication, expectation and documentation.

When conducting business with independent contractors (such as personal trainers) it is important to remember the following four strategies for developing an efficient and effective relationship:

When hiring, use proper documentation. Require the independent contractor to fill out forms that establish that individual as a separate business entity - not just another employee. You will want information pertaining to:

  • How the IC's business is structured (Sole proprietorship? Partnership? Corporation?)
  • The IC's legal name, assumed name, phone number, street address, e-mail address and web site address
  • Professional businesses and licenses held, with supporting documentation
  • Employment contacts
  • How the IC markets its business
  • Types of insurance held by the IC, with proper documentation

Open the lines of communication. Doing so can assist in creating a well-balanced working relationship. Make sure all day-to-day communication is clear and concise. With the emergence of text messaging, Twitter, e-mail and other social networks, individuals have forgotten the importance of face-to-face communication. Electronic messages are frequently misinterpreted; by speaking directly with and making time for independent contractors, managers can detect nonverbal signals, explain in detail the job's parameters and foster a strong working relationship. When finishing a conversation, summarize and repeat the significant points.

Combat isolation. This is often the hardest guideline to fulfill, since independent contractors are not visible on a day-to-day basis. Set daily or weekly reminders to contact your ICs. These conversations can be brief, but they go a long way in building relationships.

Hold independent contractors to standards presented at their hire date. When the initial hiring takes place, present an independent contractor with an expectation contract. Read through the contract with that person to make sure he or she understands your expectations. Hold ICs accountable, and ensure that they are fulfilling your expectations.

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