Consultants can do incredible things for your organization. We can be a catalyst for change, an advocate for your goals, a teacher to your staff, and breathe new life into your organization.
Choosing the right consultant for your organization is hard – use these 5 questions to maximize your results!
1. What are the qualities of the consultant I need?
Most people spend their time comparing process, deliverables, timeline and cost in order to figure out what consultant is best. Take a step back and think about the problem you are trying to solve, and the qualities needed to effectively solve that problem. Do you need someone who is a good listener, synthesizer of information, who knows a particular industry or political landscape, or who can manage competing interests? Getting clear on what you need will help you move beyond the mechanics of process, deliverables, timeline and cost – and help you pick the best match.
2. Are you taking something off my plate, or giving me more work?
The old adage that a consultant just ‘borrows your watch to tell you the time’ unfortunately rings true in many instances. There is a fine line between helping you think through and plan something complex, and repackaging what you already have and giving it back to you. A consultant should be doing the work right alongside you – not just creating more work for you.
3. What happens when your work is done?
This is especially important if you are hiring a strategy or planning consultant – when you need help to make a change. Is the consultant going to hand you a set of goals and strategies and then walk away when the real work of implementation begins? Or do they have a plan to ensure that your organization is set up for success. A good consultant will be able to tell you exactly where they are going to leave your organization, and what your organization needs to do to keep the ball rolling.
4. Can you help me think differently, or are you going to just do everything I say?
You should feel confident that the person you hire can do the job better than you or your organization can. Although someone might bring expertise in a particular area, it’s important that they and you are prepared to use that expertise to deliver you the best service. The right consultant will tell you when there’s a better way, educate you on why, and do everything they can to help you be successful. If you find a consultant who pushes back – even though it might feel uncomfortable at first – they might be the right person to bring your organization to the next level!
5. Is this person listening to me?
Is the consultant taking time to listen to what you have to say, and responding appropriately? Are they asking questions that help them dig deeper into your goals and needs? If you’re sitting down with someone who is speaking first and speaking often, and you do not feel heard – walk away! Your time is valuable. Your consultant should be spending their time learning about you and your organizational needs, and responding with thoughtful and appropriate responses.
Asking these questions during your search will help to ensure that you are maximizing the potential of a partnership between your consultant and your organization!
Still looking for the right nonprofit consultant? Schedule a free 30-min consultation and let’s talk about how Sangfroid Strategy can help your organization!