While economic factors are showing minor improvements, the recovery of our local businesses seem to be trailing those National indicators. Customers are still looking for “bargains”, companies are looking for ways to increase profits and self preservation is paramount among employees. In these economic times, the value and perspective of an industry consultant has never been more important to your business’ success.
When attempting to determine the value that a consultant can bring to your business’ bottom line, consider the following questions
- What is their industry specific expertise? Too often, businesses partner with consultants who have a “general background” in consulting, meaning that they have a number of high profile clients that they have had a passing relationship with. Ask yourself – and the consultant you’re considering working with – Do they understand the critical success factors not only of your business, but those same factors in the partners critical to your success? Can they develop specific coaching plans for your staff and help mentor your management team in applying those principles after implementation? The answers to each of these questions will give you a better understanding of the depth of their knowledge and its application to your specific needs
- How do they split their time between management and staff? Most consultants tend to spend the majority of their time in your business meeting with the owners and managers of the business taking copious notes which are then regurgitated back to them when they “report their findings”. Most often this “report” is a document that has already been compiled before the initial consultation took place and, upon returning to their office, they insert quotes from your time together with a simple Ctrl-H function. While it may be comforting to see your words in print, if more time had been spent with your staff, you would have a better understanding of the gap between management’s strategic vision and the tactical reality your staff is dealing with. That time spent with staff will reap future benefits as they will be more inclined to be a part of any implementation plan that they have had a voice in designing
- Do they have the skills to drive implementation? All too often, consultants are fully competent when it comes to identifying what the problem is, but lack the ability to assist in the implementation of those same plans. While this may be due in part to the lack of time spent with staff (outlined above), it is most often symptomatic of the fact that they have had limited experience in driving cultural change. Having a 3rd party lead the implementation of cultural change allows the management to more closely partner with their staff during the process, thus underscoring the sense of unity when it comes to the process in general and the ownership of the results
If you are looking to make significant changes to your organization in the year to come, consider partnering with an experienced industry consultant. By tapping into the skills and expertise of this group of impartial partners, you can help to jumpstart next years’ result by making.