‘Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify’ said Henry David Thoreau
Let us reconcile this advice with collective wisdom regarding personnel management that we learn in MBA programs and on the job. Focus is typically on a permanent employment arrangement and the management of such individuals and the teams they are a part of. Motivation, conflict resolution, performance management and a multitude of other concerns have been the focus of our attention. But when I look around now, I find that most organizations are depending upon workers who are not really employed by them at all. The workers could be agency contractors, independent consultants or freelancers. Does this make Mr. Thoreau’s advice impractical and irrelevant?
I should think not! Actually, I think this is the time to accept it and put it into practice. We need to simplify the situation by acknowledging these new workplace developments and changing the workforce strategies as we know them and have practiced them so far.
As executives, we need to look at all workers, whether they are ours or not, as the talent we need to deliver on our business requirements. The work arrangements of these workers offer a great deal of variety, with some of them being employed by an agency but on assignment to a client of that agency; some being self-employed, some simultaneously working on more than one job. They may be within the company’s facilities or working online from remote locations – using the convenience offered by technological developments. Their ability to deliver in a satisfactory and timely manner on the job is of paramount importance to us.
These work arrangements offer an employer the ability to access skilled workers for project-based, short-term requirements, potentially providing an incredible amount of workforce composition flexibility, cost savings and access to the best talent available for hire.
Simplify to Gain Control:
Most contingent worker arrangements come with the assurance that the worker will be productive from the beginning but we, as managers, would still need to put in some efforts to derive the best possible performance from them in order to achieve their targets.
Let us remember at all times that the aim of people management is to derive the best possible performance from the worker – and structure our processes and work environment towards its achievement. In doing so, we will need to factor in the restrictions placed on managing and controlling the work of independent contractors and contingent workers, so as to remain complaint while achieving our goals.
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