As the CEO of a company, it is often difficult in choosing the right consultant for the task at hand. It seems that many consultants want your business, but just do not measure up to either your company standards or expectations. There are a few guidelines that every organization must consider when looking for a consulting service company.
Do they know your business?
Would you hire a carpenter to fix your plumbing? Probably, not. The same goes for choosing a consultant. It is imperative that the consultant has a thorough knowledge of your industry. You do not want a consultant that must learn as they go. They should have a solid background that indicates similar business has successfully employed them. Do not rely on their resume or proposal that they are experienced. Just as you would hire an employee for your company, check their references, ensure that previous clients were completely satisfied with their end performance.
Organizational and communication skills
When hiring a consultant, you do not want to “hand-hold” them through your project(s). They are being paid to get the relevant facts, analyze those facts, and perhaps come up with viable solutions. They will need to work directly with subordinates to gain information and that relationship must be a positive one. Nothing is worse than hiring a consultant that has an “elitist” attitude and fails to communicate with those whom they must work with. Your consultant must also have the communication skills necessary when having to tell staff members “hard truths” which may often be uncomfortable for those members.
Creativity and problem-solving Skills
When choosing a consultant, you want to choose one that thinks “out-of-the-box.” Nothing is worse than hiring a “cookie-cutter” consultant who spews out the same repetitive suggestions or ideas to each of their customers. You want a consultant who is an engaging problem-solver and views all potential and current problems as an opportunity to create possible innovation or compromised change. A good consultant will always provide new, insightful solutions to a problem, as opposed to reworking an old one.
Partnership, not a lifelong marriage
A talented consultant will develop a “partnership” with you, your company, and your employees. They will engage themselves to the problem at hand as if they are an immediate employee of the company. They will apply their expertise to provide solutions, step back and then ensure those solutions are appropriately met. Often, a consultant is hired to solve short-term solutions, and once their work is completed they should depart. You do not need a consultant who overstays their visit. Once the task at hand is completed, ties must be severed (although you may decide to call them in in the event you need additional assistance at a later date).
Trustworthy and honest
Surely the consultant will be involved in the company’s daily operations, and there may be instances whereas they are involved and have access to company-sensitive situations or documents. It is imperative prior to contracting with your consultant that they be required to sign a “non-disclosure” agreement. This will at the very least will discourage a dishonest consultant from revealing organizational operations or secrets to others.
In conclusion, choosing the right consultant is often no easy task. With the right consultant, you can create tremendous value for your company, but quite the opposite is equally true if you hire the wrong one.