Isn’t it great when things ARE as advertised? When you get the value from something you invested in? It is an incredible feeling. To get that feeling every time you work with an expert, you need to learn how to prep your organization to best work with an expert so you can more reliably get the value you expect.
If you’ve listened to or read any of the podcasts and blogs from season, you might have already picked up on a theme: all experts aren’t experts in everything. In fact, most experts are really fantastic at the things they do. But in order to convey the value of their expertise, they need the ability to work with a client and to bring that client along on the journey. After all, we hire experts for transformation.
Spoiler alert: transformation is hard for humans, especially humans who work with other humans in organizations. So likely you’ve encountered hiring an expert and then things don’t go as planned, or you didn’t receive the full value of what you asked for.
Sometimes it’s not clear what went wrong. And other times, you can kind of see that your organization wasn’t properly prepared to get the full value from the expert.
Experts come with the skills and experiences that make up their expertise, but they don’t always have the additional skill of being able to help your organization work best with them.
Listen to Season 2: Episode 13
Why Preparing to Work with an Expert Is Important
The purpose of doing prep work for anything is to make the actual engagement go easier. Have you ever watched a cooking show? Don’t they make it look epically easy? My favorite is The Pioneer Woman. Watching her put together a casserole or breakfast, it looks delicious and almost effortless. But I also know it looks that way because there’s a team of people who did a bunch of work before the camera turned on.
There is prep work for everything. I hate painting, but it’s not the actual painting I hate. It is all the tedious, painstaking effort that has to happen before a paint can even gets opened. There’s sanding, taping, taking crap off the walls, repair work, laying down tarps…the list goes on and on. Prep work is some of the hardest work that goes into a project. It’s really no different when working with an expert.
Yes, prep work is a pain. But we’ve also all been involved in those projects where the prep work was skipped over or done poorly. And how does that turn out? Oh yeah, it doesn’t go as planned and you likely don’t feel like you got the full value. (I once was in a place where bugs in the windowsill got painted over; blech!)
Create a Smart Prep Plan
There is good news though! Once you have done the work of preparing to engage with an expert or external team, you don’t have to redo the prep. You can just follow the formula you created.
Let’s talk about the process of helping your organization prepare to work with an expert. Honestly, every organization is a little bit different. There are different personalities on your team, there’s different maturity within the organization, there are different places where you’re strong—and maybe places where you’re weaker.
Here are a few prompts and questions to help you develop your own framework or formula for prepping to work with an expert.
Borrowing again from Brene Brown here, one of the best things you can start with is a clear process to “paint done.” This is extremely helpful to tackle even before you start looking for the right person to hire. Have your team paint the project done, not just “here’s the result we want,” but more like: “here’s how it’s going to be used; here’s what didn’t work last time; here’s the context; here are the pain points.” Paint all of the color, details, and nuances that go along with making the result an actual success.
Define the deliverables.
You may or may not know yet what deliverables you need. And if you don’t, that’s okay! Knowing that you don’t know is sometimes most of the battle. And having identified this, you can make sure the experts can come in and fill in the gaps.
What is the process you expect to follow?
Sometimes we hire experts to replace previous experts, and there’s an expected process we have in place. Maybe the process was developed by you; maybe that process was developed by the previous agency. But either way, there’s an expectation about what’s going to happen. If you have an expectation, write it down. Your new external agency or expert will need that either to follow or change. Either way, expectations are on the table.
Where are the usual issues and how might they be prevented?
A lot of the rub around getting the best out of your work with an expert comes around communication. Because some experts are very technically inclined, this can make them less than stellar communicators. Debrief your last few expert engagements, figure out where the usual issues arise, and if there’s anything that can be done to prevent or mitigate them. You might also ask, “What don’t we want?”
Rules of engagement
Write down any rules that exist for engagement, including what organizational hierarchies exist. Are there places where other external experts have stubbed their toe? Making sure that you clearly set boundaries and define the rules of engagement means the expert can spend less time navigating organization and more time delivering value.
The Benefits of Prepping to Work with an Expert
When you take the time to do the prep work, showing up in the kitchen and making the dish is so much easier and avoids unpleasant surprises. The expert is going to come with their prep work, and your organization comes with your prep work. And then when you bring it all together, things go faster, better, and you actually get the delicious dish pictured on the recipe.
Ready to Hire an Expert?
Next week on Leverage Your Spark, get the scoop on how we helped senior marketing executives in two organizations turn their spreadsheets into dashboards with visuals that the organization could act on.
Until then, are you looking to get more value from the external agencies you 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 truly benefit from hiring an expert by booking a consult with us.