WORKPLACE / MAY. 20, 2016
version 8, draft 8

The Right Consultant Can Move Your Business Forward: Here’s How to Find One

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Consultants can be a great addition to your business if you are having problems? But what makes a great consultant - Use the following tips to decide!

Most companies put a great deal of time and effort into hiring the right people. With the right mix of skills, any company can be successful. But, there are times when a business may face challenges that it doesn’t have the resources to handle on its own. Whether they are attempting to handle an internal staffing challenge, a change effort, or just some guidance on how to move successfully into the future, there are times when businesses need to call on consultants for help.

Consultants don’t always have a positive connotation, as some perceive the introduction of consultants as an indication that their jobs are on the line. That’s actually rarely the case. Calling in the right consultants can move valuable projects forward, make employees’ jobs easier, and allow the business to grow exponentially.

1. What to Look for in a Consultant

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Consultants can bring a world of benefits to your company, but only if you hire the right ones. Because you’re investing a significant amount of money — and time — into the relationship, you want to be sure that the people you hire can provide a significant return on investment. In many ways, the ROI depends on you and how your business responds to the consultant’s ideas and coaching, but if they lack the insight and experience you need, the relationship may be doomed from the start.

So what should you look for? Specific traits depend on the project, but in general, you should seek consultants with:

2. Real World Experience

You wouldn’t hire a plumber who had never even installed so much as a faucet before, so why would you choose a consultant who has never worked in your industry and faced (and solved) some of the problems you’re facing? When hiring a consultant, you want someone who has real world experience. If you need IT support, you want consultants who have worked in IT, have certifications in specific areas, and practical knowledge in how to solve your problems, like fielding help desk questions and network support.

3. A Collaborative Attitude

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You might think that a consultant who arrives with all of the answers would be preferable, but the truth is that people who think they have all the answers are more likely to steer you in the wrong direction. It’s preferable for a consultant to have a more collaborative approach, and be willing to work with you to find a solution that meets your needs, instead of pushing you into a one-size-fits-all, turnkey solution that may or may not be the right one for your business.

4. Honesty

Everyone wants a miracle worker — and every consultant wants to be a miracle worker. The fact is, growing and making significant changes can be difficult, and it’s not always going to be fun. A consultant who is honest about these realities and willing to walk you through the process is preferable to one who oversimplifies processes and makes things sound easier than they really will be.

5. Drive for Clarity

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Consultants who are willing to admit that they don’t understand the entire scope of your challenge or project, and seek clarity at every opportunity, are ideal. Many consultants are reluctant to admit that they don’t understand everything because they are framing themselves as experts, but that clarity is vital to a successful project. Again, don’t choose a consultant who appears to know everything but doesn’t have the real world skills or specialization to support their claims, but don’t rule out those who ask a lot of questions and constantly seek clarification. They are the ones who will move your project forward.

6. A Teaching Spirit

The whole idea of a consultant is that they are short term advisors to help you grow or change to the point where you can manage on your own. A consultancy with a teaching spirit — that is, they will show you what you can do on your own without their help, and teach you how to do new things that will move you forward. A consultant-client relationship should not be co-dependent, but rather collaborative and supportive and based on moving forward.

Of course, there are other considerations for choosing a consultant, including cost, but when you find a consultant who wants to be a true partner, your project will be more successful. By providing expertise, guidance, focus, and support, consultants will move your company forward and help you achieve your goals and support your mission.

Have you ever used consultants? Do you think that they are effective? Your thoughts and comments below please....

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