Management – So you think you want to hire a consultant
In the present economic climate, lots of people are offering to provide you with consultancy for a fee. They come in a range of different flavors – from IT Consultants (several different sub-sections there) and HR consultants through to the relatively recent and rather relentless arrival of Social Media Consultants. And of course there are those wonderfully mysterious beasts – the Management Consultants. I spent several very happy years working as a management consultant.
Recently I looked at a site that claimed to be writing about consultancy. They declared that – “ Their [your friendly management consultant’s) primary responsibilities include determining the risk levels of business ventures and making educated projections concerning the long-term benefit of policies and practices.” This made my hair stand on end. Management consultants actually do what it says on the tin – they advise on the “management” of organizations. And some with particular expertise and experience may be qualified to do what that website suggested but that is not the majority. I feel very sorry for any aspiring business that puts themselves into the hands of a management consultant without doing their home work first.
Expertise and experience – looking for a “track record” – is very important when you want to hire any form of consultant. It can be fairly straight forward when it comes to the different kinds of traditional technical consultancy – for example, if you want to hire consultant from the engineering profession you can go to the relevant professional body to check what qualifications they should have. They will probably be able to advise you on how to find someone reliable, too. But again you will be concerned to ensure they have real, hardcore, expertise and experience.
When you have an issue in planning or managing your organization, you may need a management consultant. Again, you need to look for someone who can deliver strong evidence of their ability to provide added-value solutions and demonstrate their experience in delivering impartial, professional interventions. Expect to see real and convincing examples of exactly what they have done in the past and what the results have been. Make sure you feel convinced – you need to know that you are going to be able to believe and act on their advice – otherwise you are wasting your money.
A skilled management consultant can bring a fresh and unique perspective coupled with the honesty that an organization cannot always get from their own employees. Good consultants are like gold dust and it is probably the equivalent of gold dust that you will have to pay for them – even in this climate. But if you choose them with care and then keep an eye on them to make sure they are delivering properly (yes, consultants need to be managed but that is the subject for another post), it will have been worth the investment.
Wendy Mason is a career coach. She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life. Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR. She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com