Friendly Firing: Letting Your Freelancer Go the Nice Way

By Tamara Rice, 22 August 201
While some may argue that there is no nice way to say an early goodbye to a contract employee, we would argue that some goodbyes are certainly better than others. In fact, there is a way of doing things that can lead to a better work experience (though no longer shared) for both parties, if handled with care.
So, if you’re feeling the need to free your freelancer, here are some tips to help you keep that goodbye as clean and friendly as possible:

Have a Personal Touch.

Break the news in conversation, not by email. This means either face-to-face via Skyping or picking up your phone. Your freelancer deserves the courtesy of a live person giving them the bad news, if at all possible. And set up a specific time to talk (“I need to speak with you, when can you be available?”), so that the freelancer is not caught off guard in the middle of his childcare carpool.

Be Brief.

When giving the reason for your unexpected parting, don’t get bogged down in details. You are not obligated to teach the freelancer any career-altering lessons (the firing will be enough). State the facts as simply and politely as you can. For example if the work was always late, explain that your deadlines were suffering and it’s time to move on. Focus on your needs, not their shortcomings — there is a subtle difference.

Offer Notice When Appropriate.

If you feel comfortable allowing the freelancer to finish whatever projects he is on or allowing him to continue another week of work, you will be doing the person a huge favor by not instantly cutting off his paycheck. However, there will be times when this sort of kindness is a bad idea — hopefully you’ll know these cases when you see them.

Offer Severance Pay When Appropriate.

In cases where you can’t allow the freelancer to continue a minute longer, sending her off with a day’s wages (or a week’s) is a nice gesture, but severance pay is a rare courtesy for freelancers, not a legal requirement. (Unless of course you have a contract that stipulates otherwise.) Consider how long the freelancer has worked for you and how much of their workload you’ve been supplying. If you’ve been her only client for over a year, you should consider the kindness of severance pay, provided you can afford it. (And by all means, get it to her as quickly as possible.)

Be Gracious.

If there is anything you can thank your soon-to-be former employee for, by all means, say thank you now. Say it again later in writing.
Sometimes when it comes to saying goodbye, less is more. Write down a very concise speech including all of the above elements and practice what you will say with a coworker or friend. Letting someone go is rarely easy, but hopefully doing this hard thing will lead to a better future for your company and eventually for the freelancer as well.

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.

Items Everyone Should Keep on Their Desk at Work

, On Tuesday 9 November 2010

You can tell a lot about a person by what they keep on their desk. From family photos to religious regalia, a few small trinkets tell our co-workers about our personality. They also have the potential to serve a greater purpose: making the office a better place to work. Here are a few practical items to consider putting on your desk:

Plants. You don't need a green thumb or an abundance of light to keep a small plant on your desk. Nature's filter will improve the office air quality and help keep you alert. Plus, studies show plants can enhance worker productivity.
The large seed in the center of a papaya can be turned into the perfect office plant. If you're botany-challenged, consider a spider plant, which are easy to grow.

Aromatherapy. One of the easiest holistic treatments is aromatherapy, the simple act of smelling essential oils for healing.
To keep yourself in a positive frame of mind, consider adding an odor or two to your desk. This can be in the form of an unlit candle, potpourri, or even a tea bag. Fight boredom with cinnamon, reduce anxiety with lavender or stimulate the brain with basil. Find the aromatherapy scent that's right for you.

Change cup. Give a nickel or take a nickel. Having change on hand is always useful, especially if your office has vending machines. Use the money for a late-afternoon sugar boost. You can also brighten a co-worker's day by sharing the coins. Or, better yet, save that loose change to invest in your career. You'll be surprised at how much change you can save over the course of a year.

A picture that reminds you why you work. Are you saving for your child's college education? For a trip to Bermuda? For that new sports coupe? Or maybe you're looking to pay the mortgage. Whatever motivates you to earn money deserves a place on your desk. If you're working so you can live in a house, hang a photo of the place in that home that gives you the greatest pleasure.
We all work for the money, but sometimes we forget what money is for.

Breathing Reminder. Ever find yourself tense or breathing shallowly? Conscious breathing is a wonderful tool to alleviate stress. Place a symbol in your field of vision at work that serves as a reminder to take long, deep breaths whenever possible. Better breathing is a step toward happiness.

Mints. A bowl of mints is a good way to encourage co-workers to stop by your desk (if you want them there). Part social catalyst, part public service--when you and your co-workers' breath is fresh, everyone wins!

Color. Offices have come a long way, but the majority of workers still toil away amongst grayish walls and fluorescent lights. Having certain colors within view can trigger feelings that make work more tolerable. Stay healthy by looking at yellow, calm by staring at green (like your new plant) and optimistic with orange.
You can pick up most of these workplace-improvement items on the cheap at the dollar store. You spend a lot of time at your desk. Use it to your advantage.

Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job.

7 Toxic Attitudes That Can Harm Your Career

By Michael S. Wade, On Friday 10 September 2010, US News

There are certain attitudes that you will not find among successful employees. These attitudes resemble illnesses and if left unchecked, can destroy careers. Here are some of the most common:

1. "If they promote me, I'll show them how capable I am." This person has the process exactly reversed. Capability needs to be demonstrated in order to secure the promotion. This means doing far more than the basics of the job. It requires extraordinary performance and loads of initiative.

2. "I won't turn down any requests because I want to have a reputation as a can-do person." This is more controversial. I know of some consultants who recommend this approach. Unfortunately, there are some projects that will consume too much time and will seriously inhibit the successful performance of other, more important projects. A person who overpromises and then underperforms is unlikely to succeed. The successful person knows his or her limitations and carefully explains the choice of priorities. You succeed both by the projects you take on and the ones you avoid.

3. "I'm going to stick with this until I make it a success." Persistence is admirable, but it can become foolish. The persistent person needs to learn when to drop projects that have become a drain of resources and time.

4. "I'm a turn-around artist." That may be the case and there's no doubt that such skills can be sorely needed. Turn-around artists should recognize, however, that they have short shelf lives. Eventually, management will want to put this wizard into another hot spot. If the turn-around artist wants to stay put, new skills will have to be acquired and new expectations negotiated.

5. "I don't need people skills. I'm in a technical position." If the lack of people skills is not noticeable, the techie may be safe. If it becomes an issue, a very harsh lesson may be coming.

6. "I'm a perfectionist." That's all well and good, but the perfectionist had better be able to meet deadlines. As Ronald Reagan quipped about his B-movie career, "They didn't want it good. They wanted it Thursday."

7. "I don't have time to schmooze." Finding some would be wise. Isolation from others keeps out important information and reduces influence. It can be amazing how much can be accomplished today because time was taken for a cup of coffee with another manager six months ago.

Michael Wade writes, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.