4 Tips for Including Feedback in Your Independent Professional Engagements

By MBO Partners | August 3, 2023

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Key Points

Offering feedback to high-value independent professionals is as important as giving feedback to employees.

Note that the way you deliver feedback to employees and contractors will be similar, but the focus may be different.

Understanding your independents’ own business goals can help you identify feedback opportunities that can help them make progress.

As a critical source of skills for key initiatives and strategic projects, the independent professionals you engage are part of your team, whether short-term or long-term. Particularly when you have engaged high-value independents who you want to continue to engage, offering feedback to these contractors is as important as giving feedback to employees.

While HR processes likely include formalized ways of providing feedback to employees, there may not be analogous processes for independent contractors. Still, it’s important for you to have ways of giving both positive and corrective feedback to them. Note that the way you deliver feedback to employees and contractors will be similar, but the focus may be different.

Here are tips to plan for feedback and for the type of feedback to offer.

1. Understand What’s Important to Your Independent Professionals

Our Client of Choice report lists factors that survey respondents, independent professionals who work with enterprises, consider key in their engagements. These suggestions are based on three of the priorities they cited:

Treat independents as part of the team

It’s important to treat independent workers as an integral part of the teams they work with. They want to know that they are contributing to the team and to successful outcomes.

Provide opportunities to learn new skills

While most seek skill development outside their work commitments, independent professionals value clients who offer opportunities for growth through the work they are engaged for.

Make sure they know their work is valued

Almost 90 percent of independents surveyed reported that making a difference in their work is one of the key reasons they work independently. They want to know that their work is valuable to the key and the company.

2. Build Feedback Opportunities into the Engagement

Make feedback an integral part of the engagement by appropriately codifying it. In addition, keep your independent talent top of mind when feedback, acknowledgments, and corrections are needed.

Agree on measurable objectives and include them in the contract

Think of these as analogs to employee Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). As with OKRs, these objectives must be measurable and relevant to the independent professional’s role.

Include formal checkpoints in the contract

In addition to defining milestones for deliverables in the contract, include milestones for formal review of the agreed-upon objectives. These are best done live in a one-on-one format to facilitate value-rich conversations.

3. Stay Aware of Opportunities to Offer Ad Hoc Feedback

Don’t wait for the next formal objective review to give your independent professionals feedback. On the positive side, it is inspiring and motivating any worker to know they have done something well, and independents are no exception.  And when something needs correcting, offer that feedback now rather than waiting for an official meeting.

4. Always Keep the Independent Professional’s Own Business Goals in Mind

Understanding your independents’ goals and objectives for their own businesses will help you identify feedback opportunities that can help them make progress. The measurable objectives that you agree upon should include some that are directly related to the contractor’s business goals, and when you offer feedback in the moment, there may be times that you can give input that benefits the independent professional’s business growth.

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