Over the past 7 years, we’ve had the privilege of onboarding and integrating hundreds of elite WorkReduce team members onto brand and agency media teams as external talent. In this article, we outline the best practices to integrate external talent within your team. 

The summary is simple, but the devil is in the details: treat external team members just like internal. Read on for the pitfalls and traps to avoid.


1) Brief the team lead/manager of the talent prior to onboarding discussions 

Most often, the team lead/manager tasked with the day-to-day management of the external talent was not involved in the upfront decision-making process. We’ve found that it’s important prior to beginning onboarding discussions for the decision-making team to bring this critical leader up to speed on: the reasons why they chose an external talent route, why they chose WorkReduce, and why that specific person was selected for the team.  

As the team lead may have never managed an external member before – or may only have worked with freelancers on the periphery of their team – we recommend defining the preferred rules for engagement to maximize their multi-sourced team. You can also send them this article to show best practices for managing and integrating talent within their team dynamic 

2) Introductions 

Start by introducing your new talent to your team and other critical members of the business who they’ll need to work with. It seems elementary, but it’s surprising how often this step can be skipped, rushed, or shortchanged in the supercharged atmosphere of a busy advertising team environment. 

As many internal team members may not have worked with external talent before, provide your team with background on the reasons why the business chose to use external talent and why you chose the specific person joining your team. 

By humanizing this team member during the introduction, it will establish them as more than a team seat-warmer and will set expectations around the impact you expect them to make on the account. 

3) Set up a company email address & systems access 

Treat your external team member as you would one of your FTE ‘lifers’. This begins by setting them up with a company email address and email signature. Not only will this whitelabel your external member so they can be client-facing, but it also makes it easier for them to obtain the system, files and platform access necessary for them to perform their job. In addition, it establishes that the rest of your team should support the new member as they would any other valued colleague. 

4) Set up access to all relevant platforms and systems 

The sooner you can provide access to all your relevant business systems (file share, account notes, onboarding docs etc) and advertising platform accounts – the sooner your talent can start performing the function for which they were hired. Determine who will own this on your team, prior to beginning any onboarding meetings. 

You should also ensure your external talent has access to any internal communications channels that other account team members are able to access, like Slack, Jira or Microsoft Teams. This will help them feel connected and keep them on top of any on-the-fly client communications (creative, budget, or strategy changes) that may impact their activities and where they can add value. 

5) Include them in account status meetings 

Status meetings are used for all account team members to check the status of their activities and to ensure everyone’s on the same page regarding account requirements and changes. 

There’s greater value in including your external team members within these meetings versus only including them on an email summary of the meeting. Too often, it’s the verbal nuance from discussions that is missed in the summaries which can make the biggest difference. 

It will also encourage integration, collaboration, the sharing of IP, best practices and brainstorming. It’s not necessary to include the external team on your broader company meetings, but account status calls can be a key success differentiator. 

6) Maintain regular 1:1 supervision 

Just like with internal talent, encourage the team lead/talent manager to have a short weekly 1:1 meeting with their external talent to ensure they’re both on the same page about expectations for the week. 

The agenda can be as brief as saying: Here’s what your week looks like. Here’s what your priorities are this week. Do you have any questions for me? 

This time will create a stronger working relationship and will allow the talent to ask any questions they may have from the previous week and will immediately create an active feedback loop on their performance so they can continue to thrive and improve.

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