Why Chaining Yourself to Your Desk May Kill Your Career

When is the last time you planned time away from the office to engage in networking, professional development or even just a little R&R? If you honestly can’t remember, or you think the idea of doing anything like that will be frowned upon by your boss, please read on.

I recently reached out to several folks I hadn’t seen in a long time for some good old-fashioned, friendly networking. I got expected responses like, “When can you meet?” and, “I’m traveling that week, but maybe first of the month?” But what’s interesting is that more than one person responded saying they’d love to, but they are too caught up in work to leave their desk. In some cases, to ever leave their desk. For example, one said – quite seriously – that a meeting wasn’t possible until after Thanksgiving, or maybe even Christmas, due to a heavy workload.

Wow. When I heard that, my first thought was, “What kind of life is that?” Prisoners serving jail time lament the loss of this kind of freedom. And it’s likely these people have not committed a crime (or at the very least, didn’t get caught). Were they just blowing me off? That’s possible. But I’ve noticed a growing trend of “too busy” among many people I know, ranging from room parents at school to my CEO clients.

It may seem all fine and good to present the image of the high-performing employee who is the first in, last out each day and busily churning out work over the lunch hour. It may also seem cool to brag that you have logged so much unused PTO that you can fund your retirement when you quit and receive the payout check.

But what’s it all for, really?

Perhaps people do it because they think they’ll be better perceived by their peers, given a raise or even a promotion. The reality, unfortunately, says just the opposite. One article characterizes these individuals as “work martyrs,” which conjures up a very vivid – and unflattering – image. That article, and another from Harvard Business Review, both suggest the quest for recognition and reward through putting in extra hours not only impacts your productivity, it impacts the organization’s productivity, and takes a toll on the health of both.

I believe there is a much bigger risk with this behavior, however. It can leave your career in neutral at best, or set it back at worst. There is no shortage of articles telling you that networking is the best way to get a job. And Phil Romano is pioneering a new concept on the premise that face-to-face networking is vital to your career success.

But if you never leave your desk, how are you going to grow a network?

While Texas is a right-to-work state and does not, by law, insist that employers allow employees break time during the work day, most organizations do offer breaks (including lunch) and paid time off in other forms. And if your company has such a policy and has stated it, you have the right to use your break time and leave your desk.

So, it’s quite likely that the only person holding you back from networking is you.

Challenge the Norm

Here are some suggestions for cutting the ball and chain:

  • Treat your career like it’s a business. If you’ve been using excuses like, “My boss (or company) doesn’t invest in my professional development” or “If I want to attend conferences, I have to use my PTO and pay out of my own pocket” to keep you from enhancing your skills and networking, you need to stop. These people don’t own your career – you do. When you start seeing yourself as your best investment, you will act accordingly.
  • Treat the hours you work from the entrepreneurial perspective. Savvy entrepreneurs establish a dollar value for their time. Anything they can get done for less than that amount they delegate or outsource. In an office, this may translate into figuring out the value of your time relative to the tasks you control, and delegating those you don’t do well, or are overqualified to do.
  • Muster up the courage to get the time. If you are due time away from the office, take it. You don’t have to be rude about it – just be firm. Demonstrate your desire to increase your skills, or how your participation in activities outside the four walls of the office benefit your company. (In a pinch, pull out the HR policy that states you are afforded a lunch break, or PTO.)
  • Brush up on your networking skills. You can Google “networking,” scour Ted.com for good ideas, or plug in the term “networking” into a search on LinkedIn, and filter it by “posts.” There are a LOT of great ideas out there for getting involved and engaged, as well as leveraging a network. Devote some time each day to keeping your skills sharp.

Just remember it’s never too late to start networking, but if you’ve been chained to your desk for a while, it’s time to pick the lock. Why? Because given the pace of change in business, your job isn’t guaranteed to last (even if it isn’t outsourced overseas or replaced by a robot). If you haven’t built a strong network, who is going to help you find another job, or start your own business?

It’s up to you. No one can network for you.

Good luck!

The Power of Thanks, The Old Fashioned Way

Author: Gayle Goodman

I remember when I was a child, after any birthday party I had – pretty much on the heels of the guests leaving – my mother would sit me down at the table and get me started on writing hand-written thank-you notes.

Being a kid, I would grumble about it and say I’d much rather play with my cool new toys than write and address a bunch of notes. But my mom was insistent – she said if people were kind enough to spend their money and time on getting me a gift, it was a small thing to take time to properly thank them for their effort.

I was always that kid whose note would show up in the mailbox one or two days after the event – like clockwork. Until I reached the age of 14, when my godmother sent me a ring with a garnet set inside it for my birthday. It was by far the nicest gift anyone and had ever given me. And what did I do? I didn’t bother to call, or write (this was before email and texting, mind you). I got away with it because my mom was out of town when the package arrived.

Upon her return, my mom got a call from my godmother, making sure the gift had arrived – having not heard, she was worried it had been lost in the mail. Needless to say, I got a severe dressing-down from my mother for not acknowledging the gift. In the process, I realized my selfishness and I felt deeply shamed.

Ever since then, I’ve been the queen of the thank-you note. I write a thank-you note any time someone has given me a gift – even if it’s the gift of their time to meet for coffee, lunch or otherwise to provide me with guidance or information I need. I also make a point to write a personal note and mail it to new people I meet.

Is this a crazy exercise? I don’t think so. Being a parent myself, I now make my daughter sit down and write those notes. We recently spent the good part of a weekend sending birthday gift thank-yous, as well as notes to people who donated to her Jump Rope for Heart campaign at school. Being a heart hero herself (she has a pacemaker), she far and away raised more money than any other kid at the school. That deserved a few minutes of grueling hand-writing in thanks, if you ask me.

But what’s the return? For those of you who do the thank-you note, you probably experience the same thing I usually do – you don’t necessarily get feedback from people about the notes you send. Someone might mention it the next time they see you, but by and large, I never get email notes thanking me for my thank-you.

But they have impact – I guarantee you. Allow me to explain.

I recall about a year ago I met a woman at a TCU Alumni networking event. She was a positive, bright and upbeat person and we hit it off immediately. It also turned out that she worked in marketing like me, and she was in the market for a new job. We agreed to meet for a one-on-one lunch the next week so I could learn more about her goals and see if I could help her.

During the course of our time together, our conversation turned to more personal things and she shared a story that absolutely floored me. At the time she lost her position with her last company, her grown and only child had been diagnosed with a cancer that she’d overcome when she was a toddler. Rather than regret the loss of her job, this woman was grateful for the change in her circumstance because it allowed her precious time when she needed it most in her life. She was able to spend months caring for and being with her daughter, who eventually succumbed to the cancer and was buried before reaching the age of 30.

I was stunned to hear this story and – very uncharacteristic for me – it left me with no words. How could this amazingly bubbly, outgoing person have a backstory of such tragedy, yet remain so positive? I have to admit, she inspired me far more than I let on, I’m sure.

A couple of days after our meeting, I received a hand-written thank-you note from her expressing her gratitude for my time, energy and guidance. It felt good to receive her note, because it validated that I had provided something of value to her. However, to this day I still feel I received far more value in meeting her – and learning from the courage and faith of a woman who had been through the worst possible thing a parent can face.

I don’t recall if I sent her an email to acknowledge her note, and it’s quite likely I did not. But here I am – more than a year later – still recalling the image of her words on a linen card, and it fills me with warmth at the memory of the meal, and the feelings, we shared. I will never forget her. And any time she needs anything from me, I’ll be quick to respond.

Your hand-written notes may not carry quite this impact, but I am confident that consistent application of them will speak volumes of your personal brand – and make you memorable.

Challenge the Norm

I sincerely believe it pays to be thankful, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to invest the time to make sure others know you are. Here are some guidelines I use in expressing gratitude:

  • Email Thank-You: These are appropriate for responses to your requests – most of the time, people who send us what we need or want will get a nice “thank you!” email. That’s likely enough. Also, if you feel “speed of delivery” is the key, go with email.
  • Written Thank-You: If someone spends significant time from their busy day to do something for you, they deserve some of your time in return. Maybe it’s lunch, coffee or a phone call. Or, maybe it’s going above-and-beyond on the job. I recently wrote a nice thank-you note to my bankers, because they helped me solve a thorny financial problem. Yes, it’s their job. But they could have easily seen it as too much trouble to assist a small business owner.
  • Gifts: Think about your employees and your client base. They either give you a lot of their time and energy, or their money, annually. Isn’t that worth a thank-you gift? Typically gifts like these are sent at year-end, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. During the Great Recession, I think companies pulled back on these efforts due to budget. And perhaps with everyone’s special dietary needs these days, we shy away from the goodie basket. However, I think when Thanksgiving rolls around, we count calories about as often as we do pennies, and goodie baskets are fine. But you can also be creative in your approach. The last two years, we as a company chose to thank consultants who teamed with us over the prior year with a Giving for Good donation card from one our clients, The Dallas Foundation. It was a win-win-win, in our book.

You never know where expressing gratefulness might lead – perhaps new work, a new connection, or a bit of knowledge you need at an important time of your life. After all, everyone needs help at some point. Showing you’ll appreciate it may ensure you can count on getting it in the future.

The first amendment and Twitter – A debate for the digital age

Author: Gayle Goodman

To start this story, I have a confession to make. I’m an odd duck in my fascination with legal wrangling, particularly in my obsession with First Amendment issues. To provide context, my undergrad degree is in journalism from Texas Christian University, and part of the curriculum included a course in media law, which was one of my favorite classes. I was such an engaged and enthusiastic student, in fact, that my professor encouraged me to go to law school and become a media lawyer. Needless to say, I didn’t go down that path…yet I haven’t lost my passion for all things legal when it comes to how we as Americans express ourselves.

Why is the First Amendment Important?

For anyone who studied journalism, you may know the words of the First Amendment by heart. It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Powerful, yet simple, but the challenges to it can often have interesting complexities within them.

I recall when I was in my firebrand youth, I wrote an editorial to a local paper railing against a proposed amendment to the Constitution to prohibit flag burning (it was a hot topic at the time). For the record, I can’t state strongly enough how bad an idea I think it is to burn our country’s flag in protest, and how the idea of it makes me, frankly, a bit sick. But given the text of our First Amendment, protection of anyone’s right to do it is guaranteed as freedom of speech. So, to paraphrase Voltaire, I will defend to the death your right to do it (just don’t be surprised if I throw my shoe at you if you do).

But all that aside, the important point is that to keep the First Amendment strong, we have to set aside any gall that might rise up when something is said (or an act performed) that we don’t like. It’s the dirty underwear of a free society. And, honestly, the only speech that really needs protecting is speech many of us don’t like. Take for example hate speech. Last month, the Supreme Court upheld that it is, indeed, protected by the First Amendment. While I can’t say I’m a fan of spewing hateful ideas, I do have to say I still support the Court’s position on the basis of the idea that, once you start to chip away at what’s considered “free” speech by making this exception or that exception, on the whole it ceases to be free speech.

How First Amendment Challenges Get Thorny

In the days when we consumed our information via face-to-face communication, phone, radio, television and print, First Amendment issues in the media evolved to be rather cut-and-dried. Things like slander and libel weren’t protected, but most everything else could be defended. And the press had further protection for their work through complementary state-level laws, such as sunshine or open records/public information acts.

But now that digital channels have become the norm for sharing information, we are back to an area of nuance and uncharted territory. As you might imagine, I was quite intrigued about recent news concerning a lawsuit filed in federal court by seven Twitter users who were blocked by President Trump on his personal @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. To be clear, the blocking of these institutions and individuals was not done on Mr. Trump’s official government @POTUS account. But it calls into question whether the First Amendment comes into play for our president when he takes such actions with his personal account, where he consistently shares opinion and policy news. In fact, Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, stated in June that the president’s personal tweets “are considered official statements by the president of the United States.”

According to those bringing the suit, the president’s personal Twitter account has ceased to be personal due to his position in public office.

Unlike a company or other organization that can publish a social media policy stating that the opinions and ideas of its employees don’t reflect the views of the organization, the government doesn’t have the same luxury. Even celebrities, who by definition are “public persons” and who can influence a great many opinions, don’t have to meet the same standards of transparency expected of our public officials. It’s not only addressed by the laws of our country that public officials be transparent – it’s simply an expectation of Americans in general that those we elect to public office are held to a different standard that private persons.

But a Twitter account – by nature – is a private person’s channel unless it’s positioned otherwise (like @POTUS, in the case of our president). However, by becoming an elected official in the highest office of the land, the rules change in a number of ways. For example, HIPAA guarantees a right for health information to remain private, but most presidents (and candidates) in recent years have released their health information under pressure from the public. And in the case of a social channel where policy is openly discussed by your own actions, do you forfeit the right to call it private?

I’d say I’m on the side of those bringing the suit. I think our elected officials do reset the standard of privacy in social media when they take office – whether it be our president, members of Congress, governors, mayors or city council members. But I’m one to always err on the side of protecting the First Amendment.

What’s Next?

It’s an interesting question and one that will no doubt shape law before our eyes. I suspect this will be an evolving area of First Amendment law in the coming weeks and months – and perhaps years. And as you might guess, given my nerdy bent for legal horse-trading and my championship of First Amendment issues, I’ll be watching it with interest.

I’d be interested in hearing what YOU think – what outcome might we expect as these conversations evolve, in your opinion? I welcome your comments and ideas.

Gayle Goodman President & CEO of Pro-Activation. She is a communications strategist and visionary who has made her passion for solving puzzles the cornerstone of her work. Her 20 years of experience cross multiple disciplines, from corporate communications and investor relations to marketing and PR. Gayle earned her MBA in marketing from the University of Dallas where she now teaches for the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business as an adjunct instructor. She holds a B.S. in journalism from Texas Christian University and is IABC Accredited (ABC).

New IABC Academy Course: The Communication Audit

Savvy organizations know the smart move is to truly understand their customers and invest the time, effort and resources necessary to provide the best possible customer experience along a series of touchpoints. By placing the customer at the center of their decision-making process, these organizations not only address a customer’s needs, but often anticipate them—providing solutions or services customers didn’t even know they needed (or wanted).

While organizations often have a good grasp of their external audiences, they fall short of applying the same customer-centric approach to their employee experience. Because the ultimate ownership of the brand lies in the hands of individual employees, they must have a clear understanding of the organization’s “why” and how they contribute to a successful customer experience. In the long run, this understanding is critical to the organization’s success.

My new self-paced IABC Academy course looks at the communication audit as a customer journey—in which the employee is the consumer of the information needed to deliver on the organization’s brand promise. A communication audit it is a highly useful (and necessary) tool for discovering gaps in understanding within an organization. You will gain the practical knowledge needed to conduct a strategic communication audit, delivered step-by-step through a series of self-paced modules.

The journey begins with understanding the key business issues that drive the need for the audit and how to connect those needs directly to organizational priorities. You will learn how to plan for the audit, establish clear goals and objectives, gather information efficiently and effectively, and translate your insights into actionable improvements for your communication organization —all while keeping your internal customer front and center.

In the end, a successful communication audit can provide the foundation for an employee-centric organization that enjoys exceptional alignment with organizational strategy, a clear understanding of the brand, and the momentum and enthusiasm to drive growth.

Career levels: Generalist/Specialist, Strategic Adviser

Costs: IABC members: US$175, non-members: US$250

Dates: Ongoing, self-paced

Sign up now for “The Communication Audit,” an IABC Academy self-paced, online course.

Announcing the Launch of Pro-Activation: How Marketing Communication Gets Done

There’s a new brand in town, and it’s all about brand activation. ExperiPro is pleased to announce the launch of Pro-Activation LLC, a sister company specializing in marketing execution, delivered by a team of highly experienced niche consultants.

Pro-Activation focuses on executing marketing strategy by delivering a clear, consistent message across channels. Pro-Activation is not a traditional marketing agency. It is a network of senior-level marketing professionals – solopreneurs and niche agencies – who share a common bond: excellence in execution, with a commitment to measurable outcomes.

The Pro-Activation model builds upon ExperiPro’s existing consulting framework, which was founded in 2003. When David Slatter became president & CEO of ExperiPro in 2010, he enhanced the company’s service offerings with relevant, actionable insights. In 2014, Gayle Goodman brought her clients and expertise in integrated marketing communication and strategy to the firm. Together, they built the ExperiPro brand to focus on the development of holistic, insights-driven marketing strategies for organizations.

As the team grew and evolved, it became clear there are two sides of the marketing house. One focuses on developing marketing strategies linked to organizational goals to drive growth, and the other activates the brand through execution. While both sides must work closely together, the expertise required for each is different.

“Just as you wouldn’t hire an electrician to fix a broken pipe, you wouldn’t hire a research analyst to launch an integrated digital marketing campaign,” said David Slatter, president and CEO of ExperiPro. “As marketing becomes increasingly complex, it is difficult for one organization to claim to be all things to all people and still be nimble enough to adapt to the ever-evolving landscape.”

Pro-Activation was created to address the complexity of marketing today. Unlike a top-down agency model, Pro-Activation’s consultants, who are independent business owners working through a larger network, team by experience to deliver tactical execution guided by sound strategy.

“Organizations cannot hire all the expertise they need in-house on a full-time basis, so we can provide clients with the right resources, when and how they need them,” said Gayle Goodman, president and CEO of Pro-Activation. “At the same time, as more and more experts leave corporate jobs to run their own small businesses, we can provide a way for them to come together to find meaningful work.”

Gayle will serve as president & CEO of Pro-Activation and will be responsible for building and leading the teams, and she and David will serve as executive advisors to both brands.

In addition to serving clients, both companies are committed to serving the profession and will provide unique professional development, networking and new business opportunities for consultants who work under the two brands.

How You Operate Will Make or Break Your Brand

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” We all know this little ditty and certainly it is about joy, not terror, when we talk about screaming for yummy ice cream.

Unfortunately for Blue Bell Creameries, the third time probably won’t mean the charm.

Over the years, Blue Bell’s marketing team has done a fantastic job building a brand that people really love – it is more than ice cream, it is a statement of Texas patriotism.

In April 2015, Texans were rocked by the news that Blue Bell would recall all of its ice cream flavors in the wake of a listeria contamination. At that time, we screamed to get our ice cream back on the shelves, and we vehemently defended our iconic state brand.

After the first massive recall ended, Blue Bell half gallons flew out of freezer cases as fast as grocers could stock it. Then, after a second recall came in the wake of a mislabeling of packages with the wrong ice cream flavor, the Blue Bell faithful were again swift to defend their beloved brand.

Now Blue Bell is in the media again, this time recalling two favorite flavors of ice cream after detecting another possible listeria contamination blamed on a third-party vendor’s product. A flaw they identified, they say, thanks to their stricter standards for quality control (but unfortunately not in time to keep it out of the product).

It’s the third strike, and my prediction is that this time, Blue Bell will be out.

What happened? In my opinion, Blue Bell forgot a fundamental fact of branding. Brand is not your logo, your website, or your social media presence. It’s also not just the product. Your brand is built just as much on operational execution (including your supply chain) as it is a stellar ad campaign. It’s a promise earned, and is valuable when it is a promise kept.

Challenge the Norm: Brands stumble when they fail to hold operations accountable for their role in the brand promise. That’s why as brand strategists, we always engage operations teams in our brand development exercises. At first, they wonder why they’ve been asked to traipse into the land of the creative. But they soon learn we value their collaboration because they own the most important part of the brand promise – delivery.

The operations function is always looking for ways to do things better, faster and cheaper. And there’s nothing wrong with that approach – except when it compromises quality. The downside of efficiency and cost-effective management can mean cutting corners that were there for a reason.

I’ll come right out and say it: profitability is important, but the best way to improve profitability is not always by donning your green eye shade and squeezing a few numbers out of cost of goods sold. The best way to increase profitability is to invest in your company and create greater brand equity. That may involve spending money on the little things (like product testing) to ensure your highest level of visibility on the Web is social love, not negative news stories.

So please, operations folks – resist the urge to rob from the future by saving a few bucks today.

And marketing folks, please remember your job isn’t to clean up messes – your value lies in stewarding the brand promise and holding the entire organization accountable for delivering on it.

Trust me – your brand (and your customers) will thank you for it.

Are squirrels sabotaging your marketing strategy?

Fall is here, and for many professionals that means setting goals and budgets for the coming year.

Huffington Post: Women Entrepreneurs Share the Truth About Work-Life Balance

Gayle Goodman, Pro-Activation’s president and CEO, was selected by Julie Barnes, Huffington Post blogger, for a story about work-life balance for women entrepreneurs:
As seen on Huffpost Women | Author: Julie Barnes
Whether it’s for the flexibility, a result of corporate burnout, or to leave a legacy, women are starting businesses in record numbers. For many female entrepreneurs and small-business owners, the endless task of building a business mixed with family demands and community involvement leads to a bit of overwhelm, but through delegation, women are utilizing tools and resources to create life balance while making their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
The truth of balance for female entrepreneurs is that it’s never easy, and sometimes balance is impossible. You’ll have days when work has you up early and late in the same day, when you eat on the run (if at all) and wish you could get more than four hours of sleep. Gayle Goodman, executive vice president and partner, ExperiPro LLC, finds balance in making sure she keeps a very, very accurate calendar and plans all activities as much in advance as possible, with “air” in between each. “Meetings run long. The carpool line is sometimes out of control. You get flat tires. You cannot book yourself so solid that you are running from place to place. When you are late to a single location, it becomes a domino effect for every meeting following it,” says Goodman. “I also have a realistic expectation of what can be done in a day.”

Read the full article

It Takes More Than Just Talent to Get the Job Done

But how do you know when you need a consultant, contractor or freelancer?

There is no doubt the world of work has changed quite a bit since the Great Recession began in 2008. Many talented professionals have exited the workforce for one reason or another over the past seven years, and while some have chosen to return to in-house roles with the improving job market, many still operate as independents.

And the numbers continue to grow. According to a recent Gartner study, ‘contingent’ workers are estimated to comprise half of the nation’s workforce by 2020, and freelancers will dramatically increase in number beyond a projected 30 million today.

As individuals have redefined the way they want to work, corporations and nonprofits have also changed their view on how work gets done inside their organizations. When I started my business in 2008, my early success was attributed to companies who used me as an extra staff member who didn’t actually sit on the payroll. Today, it is a different environment because companies and nonprofits are seeing budgets return and have, more importantly, been able to hire in-house where they once had to make due with contract labor.

Does that close the door on freelance opportunities? Hardly. With the return of larger marketing budgets, organizations have just as much need for extra help, but now they can apply that help in more strategic ways. Bringing in a third-party perspective can sometimes be just the shot in the arm a project needs. Or, perhaps there’s a knowledge gap of some kind within the internal team that can be better met with a consulting resource.

Whatever the need, there are a number of very talented professionals in our market who have chosen not to return to in-house roles, but rather make a career of consulting, contracting or freelancing.

What is the difference among the three, you may ask? At our company, we rely heavily on talented solo practitioners who partner with us on projects for our clients. ExperiPro stands for Experienced Professionals, and our model was built on the philosophy of bringing the right resources to the right opportunities. In the course of developing our own business, we have identified these three categories of professionals-for-hire. The trick to harnessing the talent available involves an understanding of each role.

Consultants

experipro_puzzle5A consultant is a strategic partner who typically has at least 10 years of experience in his/her profession and who has gravitated toward a specific niche expertise. As Malcom Gladwell opined in his book, Outliers, an expert is someone with 10,000+ hours of experience. It takes at least 10 years to gain that many dedicated hours to your craft. Consultants are typically hired to solve the bigger problems at a broad, strategic level. They are project-based and generally charge higher rates because of the value they can bring based on their experience, as well as the value that can be tracked and measured within the programs they build.

Contractors

Contractors, in contrast, are workers who prefer the flexibility of working for themselves but who are open to engaging with 1-2 primary clients, often onsite, where they serve as dedicated resources. They generally work either on an hourly basis or by retainer for their clients and, while they are often engaged to help with strategic planning, they are often the implementers and tacticians of their projects and programs. These folks typically bring with them a broad-based skill set and can serve in a variety of areas as your needs evolve. Contracting relationships can last days, weeks, months or even years. Rates for contractors are often hourly-based and vary depending on the contractor’s level of expertise.

Freelancers

Freelancers are typically tactical, project-based professionals with a niche expertise. They can have a varied level of experience, which is why you might find younger professionals choosing to freelance in their early or mid-careers to gain a broader level of experience. This situation lends itself well to designers, programmers, social media experts, photographers and film/video professionals of all kinds (shooters, sound professionals, actors, etc.). Freelancers are often called upon to round out a team because of their particular niche expertise and they work either by the hour or by the project, depending on the scope.

Gartner’s study points out that as organizations increase the use of contingent workers in the next few years, it will place new demands on HR professionals and other organizational leaders to strategically manage them. Based on our expertise in hiring for ExperiPro’s projects, there are key things to keep in mind before hiring among these three types of professionals:

  • Before hiring a consultant, be sure your organization is ready to change. Consultants will challenge old ways of thinking and their value lies in taking a third-party view to the problems they solve. If your leadership is not ready to hear about what needs to be improved and aren’t ready to change, it may not be the right time to hire a consultant.
  • Before hiring a contractor, your organization needs to be prepared to utilize this person’s talents effectively. You should interview this person for fit with your team as well as skill and provide a detailed job description or scope of work (including hours, days, etc.) so this person understands his/her expected contribution to your team.
  • Before hiring a freelancer, keep in mind that while this person is typically hired for a specific niche expertise, you should not discount his or her contribution to the overall effort. Freelancers should be brought in early in the process so they can understand the bigger picture – including the strategy behind the project – so they can execute effectively.

Keeping these aspects in mind when deciding upon whom to hire can help make the most of your budget dollars, bring quality people contributing to your team who provide fresh ideas and perspective, and help you get things done more effectively and efficiently.