Now is the time for all of us to “work smart”. An ancient wise saying, El Golpe Avisa: our mistakes teach us” is often the way we do business. Even in corporate American, I heard that there was no time to plan and strategize…and then we had to do the project again. With years of experience as a consultant and hiring consultants, I wrote this blog to spark discussions about strategic management decisions and the way they are integrative to company goals, structure and culture.
Today’s business and nonprofit world is pressure-filled with transformative changes, increasing demands and diminishing resources. Let’s take the mystery out of the consultant hiring process. Consultants can be invaluable to an organization but they are not doctors or band-aids or an immediate “fix”. Hiring and managing a consultant begins an active working relationship that merits careful consideration and planning from the inside out! Not a form of speed dating or matchmaking, it is worth the time and preparation to build in success.
Remember: If someone promises immediate success, or believes that they can cure all ills with a band aid approach – turn away -- quickly!
Critical Questions & Answers
Do you have an understanding of your organizations’ concepts and internal abilities?
Before hiring, do an internal assessment. An initial assessment offers a time of discovery and consideration, fostering ideas and creativity that may be lying dormant.
Do the key stakeholders and staff agree share the same vision of success?
- The president, key stakeholders and staff should engage in discussions concerning the vision of the organization and defining what success looks like.
- Evaluate your internal resources: skills, financial, information and data etc.
- Confirm that the consultant’s work is aligned and integrated into the company goals and direction. The consultant is not a “fix-it-quick” add on but an integral part of the larger vision and operation.
What are your strengths and weaknesses and how will you onboard the consultant?
- Decide how you will monitor, evaluate and change course as required.
- Communicate progress and issues with stakeholders and staff, as necessary.
- Clearly define the process to assuage potential areas of collaboration or conflict with staff positions.
How will you interact with the consultant?
Clearly define who will interact with the consultant, at what stages and how.
CHECKLIST: ARE YOU READY TO MANAGE YOUR CONSULTANT?
- Based on the assessment, write a consultant job description detailing expectations, all financial arrangements, reporting, etc. Use language that is clear and concise. Carefully review together before signing.
- You are sure about your vision and how it will roll out – and can change direction as needed.
- The company governance and communications structures are clearly defined and articulated within the organization.
- You have stakeholder and staff buy-in regarding plans and goals.
- A clearly defined communications process is in place.
- The consultant contract and assignments are clearly laid out and aligned in a “chapters” format that can be monitored, tracked, evaluated changed and prepared for integration.
Congratulations! Your due diligence and evaluation process is now set.