Jessica Herrin, CEO and founder of Stella & Dot, offers some advice on how to keep a freelance workforce moving.
Interview By Beth Kowitt, writer-reporter
FORTUNE -- Getting your regular employees fired up about their jobs is hard enough. But try doing it when they're working from home and part-time. For Jessica Herrin, that's business as usual at Stella & Dot, where the onetime WeddingChannel.com co-founder now oversees 10,000 mostly part-time stylists. They sell accessories online and through in-home trunk shows. The key to motivating a freelance workforce? Treat them like the professionals that they are. "Recognition is the most powerful currency you have, and it costs you nothing," she says. That's why she makes a point of hiring managers who have a natural sense of gratitude. "It is the careful art of catching somebody doing something good that you want them to repeat," she adds. Here's her advice.
Provide your own training
We have an online university, so we're providing professional development, just like great companies provide continued learning and the opportunity to grow. We write all of our own content because a lot of what's out there isn't right in tone. It talks down to people. When someone takes our quiz and gets an answer right, a little video flies in that says, "You got it, baby, you're ready to go." It gives salespeople a lot of instant gratification. Just because we're professional doesn't mean that we're not fun too.
Get to know your employees
Although my stylists rarely come into my office, I personally e-mail and call at least 10 stylists every day. I text them, I post on their Facebook page. Part of my regular to-do list is to find and celebrate successes. When we promote someone, we send flowers, champagne, or chocolates. When was the last time your boss sent you flowers and said, "I appreciate you"? It's so simple, and it goes so far with people.
Top performers trade tips
Rather than mandate how a successful employee acts, we let them tell us -- and everyone else -- what works. We have a stylist tell her own story into a webcam, standing in her home, getting recognized with her own world in the background, giving a message to everyone. I like to tell people that it's not like you have the monopoly on busy. This person's got five kids, just so you know, and look at what she did. Here's how she did it, and you can do it too. We try to specifically have a takeaway. For example, if they had an amazing month, what were the challenges they had to overcome to get there? When we recognize people we do it in a way that's not preachy or demoralizing to others.
These days, plenty of people are holding down more than one job. But deciding how much to reveal to a full-time employer about a part-time gig can be tricky. By Anne FisherMay 19, 2011 12:50 PM ET
It's a sign of the times. Employers who hesitate to add costly permanent jobs are increasingly looking for short-term talent - and plenty of highly qualified people are looking for work to tide them over until hiring picks up again, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her March 16 Ask Annie column. Does the idea of working at a series of interim jobs appeal to you? Why or why not? If MOREGabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Mar 13, 2009 3:17 PM ET
Retailers plan to take on even fewer seasonal workers than they did last fall, which was not such a hot hiring season either, writes Fortune's Anne Fisher in her Oct. 27 Ask Annie column. Are you looking for a seasonal job this year? Got any tips for finding one - or for turning it into a permanent one?Gabrielle S. (CNNMoney) - Oct 24, 2008 12:19 PM ET
In her November 20th column, Fortune's Anne Fisher looks at how someone can turn a part-time holiday job into a permanent position, especially this year when companies may not be hiring as many holiday temps as they did in recent years. Have you ever turned a part-time gig into a full-time job? How did you do it?Crawford - Nov 19, 2007 4:28 PM ET
|Stocks: Looking to Bernanke|
|How Apple scores its lower tax bill|
|Sony shares boom on spin off speculation|
|This country needs another financial crisis|
|Microsoft unveils new Xbox One game console|