How to Motivate a Contractor

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

During your career, you will probably hire, train or supervise a contractor for your employer or your own business. Depending on his contract, a contractor makes more or less profit based on how fast or slow he works and the results he produces, which can cause his goals to differ from yours. Understanding different ways to motivate contractors will help you get the best results from your workers.


Contractors are workers who often work on a single-project basis or from time to time on specific tasks over months or years. For example, you might hire a graphic designer for a one-time ad layout. You might hire a bookkeeper to come in monthly to do your accounting. Some projects are more comprehensive and frequent, such as an IT expert who maintains your computers and also executes large projects, such as adding a store to your company website or networking all of your computers. Some contractors have open contracts, billing a business for services performed at an agreed-upon rate. Other contractors negotiate one-time arrangements.

Create a Win/Win Contract

When you negotiate a contract with a contractor, look for ways to reward performance, rather than just limit pay. List the results you want to achieve from the contract work and offer bonuses for meeting objective benchmarks, such as date of completion, coming in on or under budget and a specific result. You might add penalties for late delivery of work. Remember that paying a bonus or adding a penalty tide to deadlines might result in rushed work, while cost-containment incentives might motivate the contractor to use cheap materials. Discuss with the contractor the possibility of a full-time position in the future if you will have a job at some point down the road and the person is in a position to switch from contracting to employee status.

Offer Cross-Promotion

When you work with a contractor who is responsible for booking more business for her company, offer to cross-promote her business. Offer links on your website, an opportunity for her to use you as a reference or the right to use your name and logo on her website. This provides an incentive for a contractor to retain your business and also puts a spotlight on that consultant or firm, motivating them to keep you happy.

Provide Support

Once you bring a contractor on board, don’t leave him alone to do his work. Set regular status meetings and have appropriate stakeholders at your business check in to see if the contractor has everything he needs, would benefit from any technical support, needs history on the project, or requires answers to questions. If a contractor is working in an area with full-time employees, introduce him via a memo or in your newsletter and consider inviting him to lunch with the staff to make him feel like part of the team.

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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