For many years in my career I have had the privilege of working as a hired consultant to help companies solve their problems. This is a rewarding experience that has taught me volumes about new business models, the way companies act and react to problems and also how to work with varying types of people, management processes and the tools they use to do their work. This can also be excruciatingly painful all at the same time. As a consultant you never really know what you are getting into until you are already committed to the contract and up to your eyeballs in the work, and then it’s too late to back out if you see major problems or conflicts that were not articulated to you up front. Unfortunately, that’s the risk consultants have as a hired gun.
As a staff person, I have also been on the corporate side and was the company hiring a consultant to help with much needed expertise and bench strength. Hiring a consultant can be exactly what the doctor ordered and can do the trick if managed well. This can also be a very tricky situation unless you are not prepared up front with much needed information and time to work with them to get started and along the way throughout their time working with you and your team. Here are some tips to hiring a consultant and working with them that will certainly make your job a little easier.
11 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Consultant
- How do you really know that your company needs a consultant?
- How do you best articulate what your company needs so that they get the value and expertise needed?
- Have you established a clear, actionable deliverable list to be performed by the consultant?
- Have you thought about a start and end date for their work? Or are they going to be long-term retainer consultants? (There is a major difference in how you manage their productivity)
- How do you measure the effectiveness of the consultant’s work?
- What is the cost range you should pay?
- Once you hire a consultant, what is the best way to get maximum value from them and not just their opinion?
- Who is responsible for managing the consultant’s work and also integrating their tactical and strategic work into the company’s existing workflow?
- How do you integrate the consultant’s work with your existing employees without creating friction or internal questions about job security?
- How do you get them to focus on the current project and not on a future consulting agreement that’s not ready to be worked on yet?
- Have you asked any of your friends who have had positive experiences in the past with consultants if they know someone you can contact?
If your company is fully prepared for a consultant before the search process begins, the success rate will be much higher and the experience will be far greater.
A Consultant’s Job Is To Help With Difficult Transitions
Remember, as a consultant, their job is to “help” your company transition from point A to point B. But don’t forget, part of their job they do not tell you is to sell you on continuing to do work with them in the future, so be prepared for subtle sales pitches throughout their tenure of working with you that lets you know “they can help” with varying projects they see are pinch points for your company. As an employee of a company, this constant sales pitch from consultants can be unnerving and frustrating because it feels as if they do not want to concentrate on the work in front of them, but instead they want you to commit to the next project assignment agreement.
Good Consultants Are Worth Keeping
When your company does find a trusted consultant that is reliable, on time, responsible, trustworthy and proves they are willing to roll up their sleeves while working side by side with your team, that’s when you know you have found a consultant that is worth keeping. When you do find that special someone, my suggestion is to not tell just anyone else outside your company. Keep this a secret or just tell your friends… who you trust 100%. The goal is not only to accomplish the work with your consultant, but to be able to continue to have the consultant work with your company and not have them move on to another firm willing to pay more.
Scott MacFarland is a 29-year veteran in working with domestic and international companies big and small to help them create new and different digital marketing channels while also leveraging their existing channels – all designed to increase exposure, sales opportunities, marketing efficiencies and revenue growth.
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