Top 5 Tips For Working With Consultants

25 February 2016
Mark Richtermeyer

I’ve been in consulting for a long time. About 23 years so far. And I’ve experienced amazingly good outcomes from consulting engagements. I’ve also experienced some really horrible outcomes. Don’t make the same mistakes! Here are 5 tips on how to optimize your experience with consultants:

  1. Do your homework before you engage. If a consultant will be working along side your employees, it makes sense to vet them in a similar way that you might vet an employee. They have to be able to play on the team, but also bring a fresh or unique perspective to the table. References, reputation and work examples are all fair game.
  2. Build trust. If you engaged the right consultant, trust them with your inside knowledge and let them know what the real story is in regards to the company. Nobody knows the company  like you do, so share the vision, and the details around how the company makes money. Trust that the consultants careers are improved if they have a successful engagement. Their interests are aligned with yours.
  3. Treat them like people. Just because a consultant isn’t going to be there for the long term doesn’t mean you should treat them like a throw-away resource. I’ve seen consultants packed into a tiny closet, virtually sitting on top of each other, while employees sit at lavish desks on the other side of the glass. While designating corner offices isn’t necessary, give them the same treatment as your best employees – and you will get the same in return from your consultants.
  4. Listen to their point of view. Consultants bring experiences and perspectives from many industries and organizations. This breadth of knowledge, along with their expertise, can make them strategically very valuable. Take advantage of that information! Do your best to create an environment that encourages them to share their ideas. Invite them to meetings, go to lunch, ask them what they think about your processes. I promise there are more than a few gold nuggets to be had.
  5. Pay the bill on time. A little inside info: once consultants have shared their knowledge, they have very little leverage on collecting their bills. You want them thinking about ways to make your business better, not thinking about how to collect their bills. Keep them focused on the objective: making your business succeed.
Consultants offer a rare opportunity for you to take your business to the next level. Their expertise, honesty and perspective is often refreshing and invigorating for organizations. Make sure to take full advantage of this unique relationship.

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