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How to be a Short-Term Boss: Managing Temporary Employees

Managing temporary employees

How to be a Short-Term Boss: Managing Temporary Employees

Companies hire temporary employees for all kinds of reasons. They might need seasonal help, like an ice cream business in the summer or accounting firm in March. Or, they might want to test out a new person in a temp-to-perm arrangement before they make a full time hire. A company might even hire a temporary person because they aren’t sure what they need, and how much they need, just that they need someone.

In any case, a staffing agency is called, people are interviewed, and presto, new employees arrive – at least for a little while. But how are you supposed to manage people who are kinda, sorta employees?

Managing temporary employees

Here are a few tips that can help you manage temporary employees:

Don’t call them “the temp.” Call them Mike, or Sue, or whatever they go by. In other words, make an effort to humanize them and include them as part of the team. Others who report to you will be taking their cue from you. If you hire someone for even a short term, try to make them feel included – invite them to (non-confidential) meetings, introduce them formally to people they will work closely with. If appropriate, just explain their interim status as someone who will be helping out the team for a while.

Set them up for success. It’s easy for temporary employees to get lost in the shuffle. If they aren’t a “real employee” and they don’t go through HR, they might not get an official orientation. If you want your short-term hire to have long-term benefits, take the time to create an abbreviated training.

Have IT help them set up their computer and voicemail – if you have security concerns, many document management programs have the capability to give limited access to certain users. Pair them with a buddy for the first week that can point out how to get to the printer or the bathroom.

It’s hard enough to be the new face in the office, even harder to speak up and ask questions. So give them some of the answers they need to help them get situated.

Manage expectations. Obviously, many people who take on temporary positions are hoping one of them will turn into a long-term opportunity. If you know there is just no way the role has longevity, be up front about that.

[bctt tweet=”If you’re worried that your temporary employees will be less committed, offer to write a letter of recommendation or be a reference.”]

As with any employee, you should be willing to invest a bit in their future.

Give feedback. Any good employee is looking for ways to improve. And people who are using temp jobs to increase their experience or lead them to a full time role are usually hungry for tips on how they can do their job better.

While it’s not your responsibility to give them a traditional performance review (one of the benefits of using a staffing agency), it takes little time and effort to send an encouraging email for a well-done job, or offer some pointers on a different way to do something.

You can be a good manager — even if only for a little while.

Temporary employees are a great way to bump up your staffing for a specific need, without the commitment of full employment. And you will get a lot more out of these individuals if you make an effort to actively manage them as part of your team. Being the boss means heading the whole group, careerists and pinch hitters alike.