During my career, I have had the good fortune to work with a number of very good consultants on a variety of projects. Each time an outside consultant was brought in, it was to fulfil a specific purpose or meet a need that could not be easily met in a timely manner by inside staff. Sometimes consultants are also very beneficial in “saying out loud” what management has been trying to say for awhile.
Here are five (5) reasons to hire a consultant:
- Specific Expertise: Identified consultants often have a great deal of experience in a particular area that the customer can access for a period of time. For example: I recently created a sales training program for a customer. With years of experience in both sales training of staff and the customer’s particular industry, it made sense to utilize a consultant to create a training program the customer can now give on their own to new staff as they are hired. My industry knowledge gave me credibility with the class attendees and freed up the customer to continue managing their day to day operations during the development process. It also allowed them to freely participate in the class while observing their staff interaction during the process.
- Neutral Facilitation: When discussions are potentially sensitive and the stakes are high, an outside consultant can often serve as a neutral facilitator to keep conversations on track and ensure discussion goals are accomplished. Use of a consultant also frees up the leadership to actively participate in the discussion rather than leading it. It can be easier to interact and “listen” to the full group input if you are not the person standing at the front of the room running the meeting or event.
- Lack of Time and Resources: Everyone has more than enough work to accomplish each day, just to keep things running smoothly. Utilizing a consultant to plan the meeting, training or event prevents the leader(s) from having to carve out day to day operational time to create the needed content or materials. No one needs another huge project added to their “to do list”.
- Outsider Message Delivery: If you have kids, you know that they will often listen to an outsider before they will listen to you. While employees are certainly not kids, the same phenomenon can occur. Staff are often more likely to “hear” something being said by an outside consultant before they would hear it from their own management.
- Wise Use of Resources: You need to “do the math” on the true cost of hiring a consultant. What is the cost of the productive time you would lose from your own staff if they had to do the same work for which you are hiring a consultant? How many sessions would you need to hold, facilitated internally, to accomplish the same ‘message acceptance’ you can get from a neutral outside voice/facilitator with industry expertise? What about the content development time? Can your own staff afford to drop everything else to hit a deadline a consultant can hit who is dedicated to the project?
When I look back on all the times I have been involved with others who hired a consultant, I can see all these reasons for those hires and why they made sense. Hiring a consultant is like having an industry expert in your pocket who you can pull out when you need extra help and cannot hire additional staff to take on the work.
If you have never considered a consultant, there are many good ones out there. Contact me if you need a recommendation. I know quite a few very good ones, and would also be happy to help you myself if we agree my skills are a good fit for your needs.
All the best to you,