How to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Expert


The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so the saying goes. In my experience, so are the efforts of the wrong expert hired to help your organization. But let’s face it: It’s almost impossible to really tell how a hire is going to go until you’re into it. That’s why there’s this other saying: slow to hire, fast to fire.

But even with a great process that includes all the right things, such as starting with referrals, checking in with how you feel about the consultation, asking probing questions, checking references, and looking at other work, we’ve all made the wrong hire.

What you can’t easily tell—even with the best upfront work—are some of the nuances of working with an expert, such as:

  • If something will go sideways during the project (on your side or their side) and how they will handle it
  • If they are going to show you that they are staying in the driver’s seat
  • Their consistency and style of communication, leadership, and knowledge advancement

It’s much like the fact that a driver’s test isn’t what insurance agencies use to determine car insurance rates.

Listen to Season 2: Episode 12

Why to Hire an Expert

The whole reason you want an expert is to help accelerate growth and improvement or add capacity.

Avoiding the wrong hire means you don’t waste time and resources on something that doesn’t work. Ain’t nobody got time and resources to waste!

Much like making the right hire, avoiding hiring the wrong expert means having a vetting system in place to increase your chances of getting the outcomes you want and noticing red flags earlier.

Tips to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Expert

Let’s get down to it: What is the “magic” process to avoid hiring the wrong expert or external agency? (Spoiler alert: there’s no magic process.) But there are key items you can incorporate into your process that vastly improve your ability to spot a bad fit before it’s too late.

Don’t be in a hurry.

In other words, most of the time when we have hired the wrong expert, there were warning signs. We just failed to recognize them because we were focused on other priorities, like timelines.

Use core values to evaluate potential experts.

Just like when you want to hire someone for your team, using your core values to evaluate potential experts is the best way to test for fit and spot incongruencies early.

Does their communication style match with the organization?

Communication consists of not only content, but also channels, context, and connection. A common sticking point with very technical experts is that they lack context with their communications and aren’t skilled in “translating” from technical jargon into everyday language, which causes confusion and frustration with the teams they work with.

Does the expert have a defined process or framework to guide the project or work?

A defined process is typically the hallmark of an expert who can lead you through territory that is new to you. If they don’t have a process, they are likely to be more of an order taker: an expert in implementation, but not in strategy, planning, or definition. And that can be great—as long as that is what you need.

Keep your scorecards in mind.

Determining up front what criteria you want to measure for the project can also help you assess the fit of the expert. If you are new to scorecards, I discuss them in depth in episode 10 of this season.

The Benefits of Hiring Well

Avoiding the wrong expert hire means that you can conserve precious time and resources, get the results you want, and avoid getting burned out. I don’t know about you, but it takes only one bad hire to jade me and cause me to look for ways to just “do it myself” instead of getting the help I need. A surefire path to burnout.

I think the biggest payoff from avoiding bad hires is that you end up finding trusted partners and advisors—people you work with again and again who add massive value to your team and organization.

In next week’s episode, we’re discussing how to prepare your organization to work with an expert. Finding the right one is important but making sure you can use them might be even more important.

Ready to Hire Your Expert?

Not sure what expert to hire? At FieryFX, we know a thing or two about getting the most from working with experts. Plus, we’re experts in strategy, websites, analytics, smart business, and technology. Find out how to benefit from hiring an expert by booking a consult with us.

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