For many of you who have been successful in business either alone or within the infrastructure of a company, you’ve undoubtedly either been a consultant or had the need to hire one. Here are some tips about what makes good consultants (or successful ones) and what bad consultants lack (or do wrongfully).
I’d like to start by saying that consultants can be very important and a tremendous value-add to any company. Most often, they are hired by companies to bring expertise, knowledge, strategic insight or tactical skills that don’t exist previously. Sometimes, they are purposely hired not to be an agent of change per se, best immigration consultant but an agent of growth. Some consultants are successful; others become warts. Good consultants can be invaluable (and if you’re a good consultant, it can be a very fulfilling career path).
Here are some do’s and dont’s for consultants looking to be hired by companies as agents of growth. I hope they are helpful both to consultants (and the companies hiring them, because consultants can play a very important part in driving new business growth).
1) Don’t act like you’re smarter than everyone.
Nine times out of ten, you’re not. Even if you as the consultant think you’re smarter and have solutions that people at the company aren’t smart enough to have already thought of, really, that’s probably unlikely. Sometimes, your hiring is because of resources and to be more of a tactician. Other times, it is more strategic. Either way, the folks at a company live day-in and day-out within the industry they’ve chosen. That is not to say you won’t end up feeling smarter – if you’re successful – but don’t treat it like a foregone conclusion from the start.
2) Don’t act like you’re there to run the place or any one department.
Nine times out of ten, you’re not. The importance of collaboration is key. If people think you’re a “new sheriff in town”, you’ll likely stumble fantastically. What ended up happening in “Office Space” when the two Bob’s were brought in? The company ended up burning down. That example is a bit dramatic, but consultants often need to check egos at the door and immerse themselves in the company, just as a middle manager would, to start with. You’ll create some key allies along the way.
3) Do be open and honest that you’re an agent of growth.
This can be tricky. You, as a consultant, have a job to do. Just like every other employee at the company. Human nature resists change, and humans working at companies are no different. However, they don’t resist growth. People like growth. Take the time to explain to people why the changes that MAY occur could result in growth, and how individually, they might benefit or have their jobs become easier or help the company succeed. In other words, sell the dream – and deliver substance.
4) Do get to know the people in the organization.
And I mean all of them, top to bottom. Even if the executive team likes you, or you have undying support in a certain area of the company, there is a 100% likelihood you will come into contact with many other people in other departments. You will need everyone’s help in order to do your job right, and to “fit” in the organization and particularly into an organization’s culture. Disrupting the culture is a no-no unless its necessary for growth.
5) Do try and have a pretty squeaky clean history and well-respected record of success.
The presence of a consultant requires in-house “selling” to be done to the rest of the organization. And hopefully, if successful, will also require external marketing and PR for whatever initiative the consultant is hired for – which the company will undoubtedly want to talk about publicly. In the digital age, it’s incredibly easy to find out a consultant’s expertise and successes and failures. A good journalist will find out who is behind such a successful venture that the company is so eager to talk about. The worst thing to happen would be if the consultant severely lacked credibility in any way – which would make the consultant and the company look bad.