From 1979 to 2001 I worked in high level positions within corporate America. I was always surprised over the number of consultants that called offering their advice, solutions and their roadmap to success. So in 2001, when I decided to broaden my scope nationally and offer my consulting services. I was always very conscience of my approach. Initially, I actually had CEO’s tell me that they felt I was more interested in the sale than I could ever be about their success. This was a certain wake up call. Clearly as a consultant you are always driving for monthly revenue, sometimes this fogs your motivation and the client suffers…
I quickly realized that I needed to really evaluate my personal drivers in doing this business and after a long personal reflection , I believed that I would be more satisfied at the end of my career comparing how I actually helped our industry versus counting my fortunes. I must admit, it was not an easy decision to reach.
Today’s consultants in our industry are far less in numbers than back in the 2005. Many couldn’t survive during this economic downturn or elected to remove themselves totally from the industry.
Admittedly, I believe an outside perspective is always helpful for a company and their leaders. Here is what I recommend you look for before engaging a consultant;
1. Interview the consultant about what drives them to do the work. Determine what really motivates them. Why aren’t they working in corporate America?
2. Are they about providing solutions or facilitating solutions for an organizational buy in for the initiative?
3. Build enough relationship with the consultant to feel comfortable that you will trust this person. It’s critical you are able to be vulnerable and open with the consultant and to be hesitate, will only damper the results achieved.
4. Agree on outcomes and milestones. Surprisingly, many consultant do not have a defined result defined for them. The employer basically talks generalities and the consultant feels their way through the project.
5. Agree upfront to work with a consultant as a partner. The consultant will give you every ounce of discretionary energy if they perceive you embrace them as an extension of your staff.
6. Be fair in establishing a compensation/fee for services. Although many consultants in this economy won’t deal directly with you with a reduced fee offer because of the lack of opportunities, going to a dollar level that gets the consultant to agree to the role but barely compensates them for the results produced will usually create a less than passionate work performance from the consultant.
Bottom line, outside perspective is always a good idea. Choosing the right person with the proper arrangement is critical in producing the results you desire. Most consultants won’t discuss these issues. I see it as a necessity for achieving a mutual excellent ROI.