Making the most of a short-term contract

Photo credit - Thomas Lefebvre via unsplash,com

Photo credit – Thomas Lefebvre via unsplash,com

Flexible lifestyles require flexible work arrangements. Fortunately for me, I have been able to secure this sort of work. I recently looked through some archived business tips, that addressed how to get the most out of short-term work arrangements. So, with the benefit of hindsight, I thought I should review the advice!

My recent contract was six-months long. It was a similar (but not the same) role as I had held previously. There was still much to learn in a new organisation, a different workplace culture, new people and ways of operating. While I had a contract, there are other ways you can incorporate these tips such as for secondments, taking an acting position, job rotations or transfers.

The advice (from Harvard Business Review’s Management Tip of the Day), proposes three important steps.

  1. Set goals
  2. Ask for feedback
  3. Keep a journal

Set goals. They suggest that you write out what you hope to accomplish on your work assignment. In substantive terms, that was easy for me as I was given a clear role description. It needn’t stop there though. I always like to work on some aspect of how I do my work. For me it is usually about self-management – things like better workload management.

Ask for feedback. HBR suggests being upfront with your supervisor and peers, about your interest in their feedback as you settle in. This is a good idea, especially if you indicate this early – enabling people to provide you with feedback so you can redirect your efforts if needed. Being proactive in this way can make it easier for the feedback to be given, and has the potential of meeting performance requirements earlier. When I have had the opportunity to do this, it has always paid off.

Keep a journal. This third suggestion is to keep notes on ideas – that work or don’t. By journalling over time, you can reflect on them periodically and notice where learning has occurred. It is suggested that this can provide real insight, even from brief work periods. This tip is one I have not tried formally. I tend to keep mental notes of these things – but recording them does facilitate greater retention as well as the all-important reflection.

And afterwards?
When the contract is over, it is important to tie off work arrangements well. If you are interested in being engaged again, or asking for references for further work, the way you finish up is important.

What about you? Do you have tips to add to these? It would be great to add them here.

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