Are you considering hiring a consultant as an expert to help you fill gaps in or improve your program? I’ve been there and done that! Now I am a consultant who has thought carefully about which of my clients have achieved their goals by investing in me, and what made those clients more successful than others.
Before I became a consultant, I held several jobs in early care and education in which I hired consultants. Looking back on my earliest experiences as a child care administrator, I know I didn’t always sit down and craft all of my objectives for my contracted professional development trainers. Actually, back then, I didn’t know I should. I thought the experts would know what to do and just do it. It was simple. As Nike says, “Just do it.” Now I know it’s not that simple.
As time when by, and I began working with more types of experts on other projects, I learned a lot about how to write a Statement of Work and planning measurable objectives. I know now that because I didn’t go into those beginning relationships with clear goals, the consultants and I did not achieve as much as we might have if I had been well prepared. My consultants did great work, but we could have achieved more if I set clear expectations.
Notice my liberal use of the word “we”? Going into any consulting agreement means that you have to be prepared to collaborate, and build a team with your consultants. It also means you must manage the relationship and be open to change. Stop and think about it, the very idea of inviting someone with expertise into your organization means that inevitably the outcome will mean change from what your organization is doing now to what it will be doing in the future. The most fundamental objective for which you need to plan is that everyone in your organization needs to be prepared for collaboration and change.
If you are a program administrator in a direct service program, it’s highly likely you’ve hired consultants for professional development, But just like early childhood leaders in all types of organizations, you may also need other types of expertise like graphic designers, organizational consultants, website experts, and so many others. Even subs are consultants! Remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to preparing to work with consultants, but there are some rules of thumb you can use before you get started.
Choosing a Consultant Part 1. Deciding to Hire a Consultant on Planning.org (American Planning Association) offers a wealth of information about getting started with consultants. Jump down to the section, Organizing for Selection. to learn more about SOWs and objective planning.
Consultants can and should help their potential clients achieve their goals by guiding them through the planning process. They should eventually help you refine your on SOW and ask a lot of questions before they being the work. But process of preparing yourself and your staff before you even talk with consultants will ensure you find the right person, have a positive experience, and achieve your organization’s goals. After all, it’s all about positive outcomes. Preparation + participation in the process = great results with consultants.
And, you.. consultants… Are you prepared to guide prospective and new clients through the steps of setting goals and preparing for change? It’s a big task, but if you want to effect change and you want happy, successful clients, you better have your own plan! That’s a future next post… Helping clients help themselves… coming soon. Stay tuned to our blog so you do not miss the next installment!
Do you have tips for consultants and early education leaders who use them? Share them! Post a comment below!
Are you looking for consultants for your organization? Search Early Childhood Investigations Consultant Directory. It’s free to search!
Fran Simon, M.Ed.
Chief Engagement Officer
Engagement Strateiges, LLC.
Founder, Early Childhood Investigations Webinars and
Early Childhood Investigations Consultant Directory