University Business - July 2009 - (Page 57)

HUMAN RESOURCES Twelve tips for hiring a consultant An Outsider’s Perspective By Carol Patton everything you want. Or break your list down into two sections: must-have skills and nice-to-have skills, which may make it easier to weed out consulting firms or individuals who lack the basic qualifications. en develop a timeline for the project with intermediate checkpoints. 4. Write a clear and accurate job description. Consultants need to understand their responsibilities. Once the scope of an assignment is defined, start soliciting feedback from individuals involved in the project about their expectations so there won’t be any surprises—on either end—about the work that needs to be performed, says Goodman. 5. Form an interview team. Involve employees from different classifications who will be managing or working with the consultant, assigning tasks, following through on the consultant’s advice, or impacted by prospective changes, says Goodman. If employees don’t have an opportunity to offer input into selecting consultants or the changes they recommend that could potentially affect their lives or career, Goodman says their buy-in for making significant changes down the road or willingness to serve as HR’s ambassadors for change could be dramatically low. “It would be foolish for an HR manager to say, ‘Here’s the consultant,’ and everybody walks in cold,” Goodman says, adding that the selection process Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer who specializes in covering HR issues. July/August 2009 | 57 T’S NOT UNUSUAL FOR HU man resource departments in higher ed to hire consultants instead of fulltime employees to design a program, solve a problem, or reach a specific goal. Consultants typically are cheaper in the long run, possess unique skills, and can introduce HR to creative business strategies used by other educational institutions across the country. However, hiring the wrong consultants can be disastrous. Personality clashes can develop. ey may not be accessible when HR needs them. eir ideas, solutions, or perceptions may not be in line with the school’s values. Relationships can deteriorate, with HR being no further ahead at developing that plan or finishing that important project. Hiring consultants is no different than hiring employees. It involves a systematic process, says Lanny Goodman, owner and president of Management Technologies in Albuquerque, N.M. Whether the organization is a corporation, a small college, or a large university, the process is similar. Goodman, a management consultant for nearly 30 years, compares it to hiring a senior-level employee. e key, he says, is to put greater care, thought, and attention into the front end of the hiring process. Here are some tips to help bring the right consultant on board for your school. 1. Define the problem or challenge. Hiring a consultant is like going to the doctor. You wouldn’t visit an ear, nose, and throat physician to diagnose a brain tumor. e same logic applies to consultants, says Goodman. Your I It’s OK to dream big as long as you realize you may not get everything you want. first step is to diagnose the problem. What are you trying to solve, what do you need to accomplish, or what system are you trying to improve? If you’re not clear or can’t reach consensus, the consultant’s ability to succeed will be “approximately zero,” he says. 2. Explore the “why” behind the hire. Is a consultant the best person for the job, or can an employee or in-house team accomplish the task? Perhaps you’re shortstaffed or up against a tight deadline, or perhaps the problem requires expertise that your employees lack. Make sure your reasons are valid and can withstand scrutiny, especially if budgets are tight. 3. Determine what skills, knowledge, or experiences are needed. ink about the ideal consultant for the job. What skills and experiences would he or she possess? It’s OK to dream big as long as you realize you may not get

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - July 2009

University Business - July 2009
Editor’s Note
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Behind the News
Sense of Place
Financial Aid
Human Resources
The State of Student Aid
Out of the Gym, onto the Desktop
EduComm 2009
Internet Technology
Community Colleges
End Note
SPECIAL SECTION: Annual Directory of Higher EdConsultants

University Business - July 2009