In ‘Flash Organizations,’ Keep Goals Firmly in View

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

The newly coined term sounds so 21st century: “flash organizations,” which are temporary companies, made up solely of freelancers, that pop up to fulfill one-time project needs. Yet the secret to their success, from a human resources standpoint, is quite old-fashioned.

The term may be new, but companies have been engaging in “similar practices” for a while by hiring “a set of consultants to take on a specific project,” John Reed, senior executive director for Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm Robert Half Technology, told Bloomberg BNA in a July 24 email.

“The best way for an organization to handle one consultant or a group of project professionals is to have a very clear idea of the project, goals, and outcomes in order to best guide them and make it a seamless transition into the organization,” he said.

That fits with what Andee Harris, chief engagement officer for Chicago-based performance management and employee engagement software company HighGround, said is the first essential practice for flash organizations: “making sure that there’s some accountability.” That can be done through goal setting and weekly check-ins, she told Bloomberg BNA July 24. “It’s important for flash organizations to understand how their work ties into the bigger picture,” Harris said.

A second important piece is “culture,” she said, which includes understanding how the freelancers feel and how they are being treated, to build a sense of mutual respect.

Third, she said, team leaders in flash organizations should solicit feedback and gather updates on how the team is doing in achieving its goals.

Likewise, Reed said, “There should be constant communication and a clear set of expectations laid out by the project manager along with the tools, instructions, and timeline. As the project develops, there should be regular check-ins to ensure all objectives are being met in a timely manner.”

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking culture doesn’t matter because a flash organization is temporary by definition, Harris said. If the freelancers “don’t feel motivated and engaged, they won’t be as productive. Goals are even more important for a freelancer,” she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at mbermangorvine@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris at tharris@bna.com

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