The strategic use of engineering contractors can help you achieve organizational goals. However, adding a new person to a team can be a challenge. Group dynamics shift any time a new employee is brought on board, but when that person is only there for a few months, it can be an even more difficult dynamic to manage. Long-term employees may be wary of contractors, and they may be reluctant to accept the new engineer if they are worried about their own future. Therefore, team leaders must take the time to prepare the group properly to ensure a smooth engagement.
Commit to a Culture of Transparency and Communication
As soon as you know you’re going to bring in contractors to help with a project, initiative or deadline, assemble the team for a discussion. Outline the reasons you’re choosing this route, and be very clear about the role the contractor(s) will play in achieving team goals. Leave plenty of time for the group to ask questions or air their feelings.
There will be people who feel threatened and be concerned about their own job security when you bring contractors on board. Let those people know how their personal role will be impacted by the addition of a contractor, if that role is to be impacted at all. When you are open and transparent and explain that contractors are there to help the group run more efficiently as you move towards a goal, the group will be more open to the change.
Get the Team Invested in Success
Make each member of the existing team a part of the contractor’s onboarding process. This will help them get to know the new person quickly and force the group to become invested in that contractor’s success. Assign each member of the group a specific goal, such as familiarizing the new person with a specific procedure or platform.
Solicit Ongoing Feedback From the Group
Since each member of the team will be responsible for an element of onboarding, check in with them each Friday for the first month of the engagement. Ask how they think the contractor is progressing, and get input on what’s going well and where they may see potential problems. This will show each employee you value their feedback and will provide insight into team dynamics you may not be privy to on a day-to-day basis.
Contractors can help breathe new life into a team, sparking creativity and innovative problem solving. They can also generate a bit of healthy competition among long-term employees who may have become complacent. However, a successful consulting engagement is only possible when management makes the effort to prepare the team and adjust to change.