A good briefing creates a solid foundation when working with independent contractors and can eliminate unnecessary feedback loops. To achieve that, the briefing has to be as precise as possible to clearly convey your expectations for the outcome of the job. But a lot of businesses still struggle to create efficient briefings.
Here are 5 common mistakes when writing a briefing for your remote workers.
1. The briefing is too long
Let’s be clear about this: A briefing shouldn’t be longer than one page. Try to keep it as short and precise as possible and only include the most important information for the job in your briefing.
Also, you don’t need an additional document for this. There is nothing a PDF or word document could achieve that can’t be solved with a good old e-mail. If you keep all the information in one spot, it is easier for your remote talent to quickly access it and use it for reference while working on the project.
However, if you send a three-page document as your briefing, your contractors have to repeatedly search for the right information within this file. This time-consuming and by any means unnecessary research on their side might take a toll on your working relationship. That is why you want to keep your briefing as short as possible.
2. The briefing is too detailed
While you do want to be as precise as possible, there is a difference between offering detailed information and demanding too many details. And to be honest, is it really that important to dictate the usage of certain words or phrases?
You should rather focus on the information your contractors really need instead of telling them exactly what to do in way too many details. If you are too restricting, you might as well just go ahead and complete the task yourself.
Use the advantages of distributed teams and allow your contractors to bring in a fresh view of your company or service. Who knows, maybe they will come up with a new idea or maybe take on a different perspective you would have never thought of. Allow your remote workers to showcase their talent.
3. You don’t answer the basic questions
The main reason to write a briefing is to provide your contractors with relevant information so they can successfully complete a job. But what information seems relevant to you and is actually relevant to your remote team is sometimes very different.
Try to put yourself in their shoes and think of any questions they might have concerning the task. Then, try to answer these questions. Some basic questions usually are:
- What is the task?
- What is the goal of the task? / What is it used for?
- What is the deadline?
- How long/big is the task? (words, pages, numbers etc.)
- How is the task to be delivered? (email, shared document etc.)
- Who do I communicate with?
- What format should I use? (e.g. word, PDF, JPG etc.)
- Are there any additional sources?
- When writing copy: What is the general tone of voice? (formal, informal etc.)
- Is there anything else I need to know?
4. There are no clear deadlines
A good briefing needs to include a deadline for the final delivery of the task. The deadline should be a precise date and not state things like as soon as possible, by the end of the month, or within the next weeks. If you want partial deliveries of the task, include a deadline for every single milestone.
Stating a clear deadline minimises the risk of misunderstandings. If you want your task to be completed by the end of the month, you could mean the actual last day of the month, the second to last day or five days before the end of the month. Include a clear deadline to keep everyone on the same page and to clearly convey your time expectations.
5. The briefing does not include references or examples
The best way to show your independent contractors what you expect from them is to provide them with examples and references of prior work. This could be already existing written material, pictures of other projects or links to websites that include content you like.
Make sure to include one or two examples of the type of work you want the contractors to deliver. This allows them to refer back to it at any given time and might even lead to a quicker processing time due to less questions and a better understanding of your needs.