What is a consultant?
___A consultant is an individual (or, occasionally, a group or organization) that brings experience and expertise about an issue or process to an initiative, organization, group, government entity, or community.
___A consultant might have knowledge relating to an issue (theoretical, experiential, or both), knowledge of a process (usually both theoretical and experiential), or a specific skill.
Why might you serve as a consultant?
You might serve as a consultant…
___To facilitate a particular intervention or initiative.
___To benefit or have a positive impact on a population you serve or are concerned with.
___To nurture an organization that will provide a needed service to the community.
___To cement relationships with other organizations, and encourage collaboration rather than competition among health, human service, and community workers.
___To gain recognition and credibility for your organization, or establish it as an “expert” in the field.
___To earn needed money for your organization.
___To help solve a longstanding community problem.
Who might serve as a consultant?
___Current or former program directors or other staffers who have direct experience with an issue, with a population, or with organizational design, development, and management.
___Current or former local or state officials, legislators, and others who’ve dealt with issues from the policy standpoint.
___Members of the target community or population.
___Academics – including students – who work on a particular issue or process.
___People with organizational and process skills – counselors, mediators, social workers, psychologists, etc.
When might you serve as a consultant?
You might be asked to serve as a consultant…
___At the beginning of something new.
___When an organization or group is having a problem.
___When the community sets out to tackle an issue you’ve been working on.
___When you see an opportunity to help, and believe you have the knowledge, expertise, and skills to do so.
___When your acting as a consultant would clearly benefit the population you care about, or add to the credibility and reputation of your organization.
___When you’re asked.
How do you serve as a consultant?
___You define your role as
- Expert Specialist
___You define your relationship with the group you’re working with.
___You do your homework, learning all you can about:
- The organization or group you’re working with
- The community
- The issue at hand
___You tailor your guidance or work to the organization or community you’re working with.
- Adjust your style, your suggestions, your guidance, etc. to what people will accept.
- Take the group’s unique circumstances into account.
- Examine the issue at hand in relation to the particular group, organization, or community you’re working with.
- Pay attention to the potential consequences of any advice, action, process, etc. that you propose.
- Be flexible.
- Keep your eye on the long term.
- Institutionalize your work.