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Just Hired a New Independent Consultant? Follow These 6 Rules

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Published:
November 21, 2022
Reading Time:
11 minutes
Leo
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.
Back in the day, only the big businesses with deep pockets could hire consultants. The rest had to rely on their own business acumen and… Well, and ‘luck’, of course. But those days are long gone. Nowadays, many highly experienced, top-of-the-class management consultants are working as freelancers. Why? Well, because they want to be able to choose their own work hours, locations, and clients. This trend is a blessing for businesses that cannot directly engage MBB or the Big Four.

If you’re one of the businesses that have taken advantage of this trend, welcome aboard! You have most likely made the right decision. Now, whether you’ve hired a consultant to solve a problem or get an expert eye on something, there’s one thing that you must understand. Working with independent consultants is very different from working with full-time employees, interns, or contractors.

In this article, you'll learn the 6 rules of engagement with an independent management consultant. At the end of the article, we’ll also shed some light on the easiest way to ensure that your independent consulting engagements go smoothly.

Rule #1: Make Sure They’re Familiar With the Company Culture

When independent management consultants come on board, they may not have the remotest clue about your organizational culture. So, the onus is on you, the client, to familiarize them with your values and ideals. For example, the independent consultant should know whether you have a hierarchy or a flat structure. They should know if there's a specific dress code. Also, they must be enlightened about the project management method that you use—is it Agile or Waterfall

Furthermore, you should ask yourself: As a business, are you team-oriented or individualistic? Do you focus more on the outcome or process? Is your approach generally innovative or traditional? Whatever the answers are, let the temporary independent consultants know the ins and outs of your culture. 

This may seem like a trivial issue, but it’s not. Even though independent management consultants work with you on a temporary basis, they must know how employees are expected to act. For instance, a highly individualistic independent consultant may come off as too harsh in a culture where the team comes first. That’s why you must always enlighten newly hired independent management consultants about your company culture.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • When you hire a new independent consultant, you should help them get familiarized with your organizational culture. This includes dress codes, values, norms, work processes, etc.
  • Flexibility is a huge reason why consultants leave big firms and become freelancers. Make sure to offer them flexibility when you hire them. 
  • Even though independent consultants are technically not members of your organization, they shouldn’t be treated like an outsider.
  • You should realize that consultants are very intelligent and bright individuals. That’s why you should let them take the lead and trust their process.
  • You should give feedback to independent consultants whenever needed, and also ask for their feedback.

Rule #2: Give Them Flexibility

According to Fortune, 95% of knowledge workers (which include independent management consultants) want flexible work hours. Well, this means that almost every freelance consultant is most likely in favor of flexibility. In fact, flexibility is one of the reasons why the number of independent consultants is on the rise. Highly experienced and intelligent consultants, who don’t want to work long office hours at big consulting firms, are now turning to freelancing.

A consultant’s job is such that they don’t necessarily need to be in the office from 9 to 5. Of course, if you require them to attend some in-person meetings, then that’s a different story. But the bottom line is: Most independent consultants who have worked with top firms are smart enough to manage time. Giving them flexibility around work hours will only increase their efficiency. 

Rule #3: Don’t Treat Them Like Outsiders (Even Though They Are)

Well, it’s true that independent management consultants are outsiders. However, this doesn’t mean that they should be excluded from the team. So, if you have a team lunch on Fridays, invite them. If you’re taking all staff members for a picnic, ask the independent consultant if they want to join. And if you offer gym membership to the team, why not do the same for the temporary helping hand that you’ve hired? 
independent consultant, Just Hired a New Independent Consultant? Follow These 6 Rules
Throughout your engagement with an independent management consultant, you should remember that you’re working with a human. If you treat them right, maybe they’ll want to work for you in the future as well. Most importantly, if you make them feel like a part of the team, they'll be motivated enough to put their best foot forward.

Rule #4: Let Them Be in Charge (For the Most Part)

Management consultants, especially the ones who have worked for a few years in the Big Three firms, are some of the smartest humans on the planet. The selection process itself is very tough. For instance, BCG only hires less than 1% of the candidates they interview. 

So, if you’ve hired a consultant to solve a problem, then chances are, they have worked on many similar problems before. Have you hired them to get recommendations on the new expansion plan or merger or operational procedure? Well, it’s likely that they’ve already helped many other businesses with the same issues. Moral of the story: Let them lead and guide you. You don’t have to treat them like a junior who has just joined the workforce. 

The fact is, independent management consultants with a track record of success probably understand your company’s problems better than anybody else. It’s not a boast, it’s just a combination of intelligence, hard work, and experience. So, let them be in charge and trust them. 

Rule #5: Don’t Hesitate to Give Feedback

This may seem like the exact opposite of what we discussed in the previous point. However, even though you should generally let the independent management consultant lead, don’t hesitate in speaking up when you notice something. Feedback is essential. After all, you’re paying them to work for your company.

Recently, Psychology Today published an interesting article about giving feedback. According to the author, who is a psychology graduate, feedback should be clear, honest, accurate, timely, empowering, and relate to a specific behavior rather than a person’s character. 

Let’s consider an example. Suppose a client hires a consultant to help them create a new operational process for their business. The intention behind creating a new process is to reduce manufacturing costs and increase productivity. So, the consultant gets to work, collects data, analyzes it, and designs a new process. 

However, the client realizes that they have tried a similar process before and it didn’t work well. In this case, the client should clearly and honestly communicate this to the consultant in a timely manner. This isn’t an attack on the consultant’s personal traits. And it certainly isn’t doubting the consultant’s competence. It’s just that the client is not sure if the recommendations are viable and hence, they share their point of view with the consultant. 

Rule #6: Ask Them for Their Feedback

Ideally, feedback should be two-way. Meaning that the independent consultant, who is working with the company on a temporary basis, should also be able to express themselves. That’s why you should ask the consultant for their feedback as well. There are several ways to do this.

First, you can simply schedule a meeting. Once a fortnight or a month, set a few minutes aside to check how things are going with the independent consultant. In specific, you should ask if there are any hurdles they’re facing or if they need some help from the business.

The thing is, you may get very busy with full-time employees, clients, and other stakeholders. When this happens, you may forget to ask freelance consultants if they need help with something. Remember what we discussed before? Treat them like a member of your team—like a human.

How to Ensure That Freelance Consulting Engagements Go Well?

Let’s face it, hiring new people is time-consuming and energy-draining work. Whether you hire an intern or a highly experienced independent management consultant, you’ll have to put in the work. And God forbid, but if you hire the wrong person, you'll have to repeat the process. This means that more money and time will be wasted.

So, is there a better option?

Yes, the best solution, in this case, would be an online consulting platform, such as Consultport

Here at Consultport, we have thousands of pre-vetted consultants in our talent pool. And hiring independent consultants through our platform is really simple. Once you confidentially tell us about your needs, we’ll let you handpick the best consultant from our network. 

And here’s the best part: Once the project starts, we’ll handle all the admin work and ensure everything goes smoothly. After all, you’ve got other business to handle, so why not let Consultport take some tasks off your to-do list? 

So, if you’re looking for an experienced independent consultant, and a trustworthy partner who’ll be with you throughout the project—get in touch with us now.
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