For many of you who have been successful in operation either alone or within the structure of a company, you’ve undoubtedly either been a consultant or had the need to hire one. Here are some tips on what makes good consultants (or successful ones) and what bad consultants lack (or do wrongfully).
I’d like to begin by saying that consultants can be very important and a tremendous value-add to any organization. Most often, they are hired by companies to bring expertise, knowledge, strategic insight or tactical skills that don’t exist previously. Sometimes, they are on purpose hired not to be a representative of change per se, but a ISO 27001 representative of growth. Some consultants are successful; others become hpv warts. Good consultants can be invaluable (and if you’re a good consultant, it’s really 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 start up company growth).
Don’t work like you’re better than everyone.
Nine times out of ten, you are not. Even if you as the consultant think you’re better 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 due to resources and to are more of a tactician. Other times, it is more strategic. Either way, the people at a company live day-in and day-out within the industry they’ve chosen. That’s not to say you won’t end up feeling better — if you’re successful — but don’t treat it like a foregone conclusion before it starts.
Don’t work like you’re there to run the place or any one department.
Nine times out of ten, you are not. Benefit of collaboration is key. If people think you’re a “new sheriff in town”, you will likely bumble remarkably. What wound up happening in “Office Space” when the two Bob’s were brought in? The company wound 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 begin with. You’ll create some key allies along the way.
Do most probably and honest that you’re a representative 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 show people why the changes that may occur could cause 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.
Do get to know the people in the organization.
And I am talking about all of them, top to bottom. Even if the executive team likes you, or you have undying support in a certain part of the company, there is a 100% likelihood you will come into contact with many other people in other sectors. 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 required for growth.
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 all of those other organization. And hopefully, if successful, will also require external marketing and ADVERTISING for whatever effort the consultant is hired for — how the company will definitely want to talk about freely. In the digital age, it’s incredibly easy to find out a consultant’s expertise and success 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 occur would be if the consultant severely was without credibility in any way — which will make the consultant and the company look bad.