The Simple Tricks to Get the Most out of Independent Consultants
Dear business owners, there’s a lot you can do to make sure that your engagement with an independent consultant is worthwhile.
If your only concern is paying the consultant’s invoices, and you don’t involve yourself in any other aspect of the consulting engagement, such as responding to the consultant’s queries or implementing their recommendations, then there’s not a lot you can do to control the results.
However, if you roll up your sleeves and dig a little deeper, you’ll realize that your actions could substantially affect the project’s results.
Let’s understand how to get the most out of independent consultants.
1. Find a Consultant From the Right Place
If you do this, you’re playing to win from the get-go. A lot of times, businesses go through the traditional route of finding consultants, that is, social media posts or an advertisement on an online job search platform. And sometimes, they ask their friends to recommend a consultant to them—who may or may not be right for their business. So what is the right way to find the best independent consultants? Well, if you reach out to a reliable freelance platform that has access to hundreds of talented and screened consultants, they can easily find the one that’s most suitable for your business.
The process is similar to hiring an employee through a recruitment agency. Consulting platforms do most of the work for you, such as carefully examining your requirements after a confidential chat with you, handpicking the best consultants for your selection, and managing all the admin work related to the hiring process. In the meanwhile, you can focus on other aspects of your business instead of going through hundreds of CVs and portfolios of potential consultants. The online consulting marketplace has the best independent consultants from all around the world. By looking for a consultant on a freelance platform, you can increase your chances of finding the ‘right’ consultant - not the one that appears first on your LinkedIn search bar and is convenient to contact.
2. Understand the Leader-Follower Dynamic
The fundamental reason for hiring a consultant is to have them examine your business situation and offer recommendations. Ideally, the consultant leads for the most part, but sometimes, someone in the business might have to give them some directions. And that’s how it should be.
However, some businesses do exactly what a consultant asks them to do without asking any questions, and in some organizations, senior decision-makers in the company are cynical about almost everything a consultant recommends. Both of these are extreme cases and should be avoided. Every consulting engagement should have a healthy leader-follower dynamic. It’s not about who’s right or wrong, it’s about trusting each other and working together to reach a common goal.
Moreover, businesses need to realize that consultants are not a part of their organizational hierarchy. For this reason, working with consultants is different as compared to working with permanent employees. And the main reason behind that is the shifting leader-follower role. It should be kept in mind all the time to ensure that the consulting engagement is successful.
3. Make Them Feel Included and Offer Support
Consulting is a team sport. Even the best independent consultants won’t be very efficient without proper internal support. Yes, the consultant will be around temporarily for a short-term project, but this doesn’t mean they should be treated as an outsider. You, and your whole team, should treat a consultant as you would treat your permanent employees. Forget about the legal jargon and remember that you’re dealing with humans, after all.
So much for behavior, now let’s talk about the professional support you should offer your consultant. Throughout the consulting engagement, a consultant might send emails or request information. Make sure you reply promptly. And if you’re too busy to do so, ensure that there’s another point of contact in the company that can assist the consultant when needed. Whether you hire a consultant to conduct your company’s SWOT analysis, create a growth strategy, or for any other issue, they won’t be able to work efficiently without the right internal support.
Ask the Right Questions
Here’s what a lot of people think about a consulting engagement: A company has a problem, they hire a consultant, the consultant conducts research and offers recommendations, and everyone lives happily ever after.
In reality, this is not always the case. A company has the complete right to ask questions and have the consultant refine their analysis, and subsequently, their recommendations. Even if you hire the best independent consultants from the most trusted freelance platform, you should ask them questions while the engagement is still on. Remember, the consultant won’t always be around and you should make the most out of the engagement by asking the right questions at the right time. For example, “Why is Facebook’s cost-per-click low during the weekend?” By doing this, you'll be able to make your business self-sufficient before the consultant leaves.
4. Make Sure They Are Aware of the Company’s Organizational Culture
The online consulting marketplace has enabled businesses to hire the best independent consultants from all corners of the globe. These consultants are used to working in different types of environments and can easily mix well with people from different backgrounds. However, before the engagement begins, it’d be worthwhile to educate them on your company’s internal culture. Remember the ‘leader-follower dynamic’ part mentioned above? Well, as a decision-maker in the business, this is your chance to lead and explain certain things to your consultant.
For example, if 11:00 AM means 10:50 AM in your company, then the consultant should be made aware of this so that they can create a habit of showing up a little early for meetings. If it’s a norm to have a group lunch with the whole team every Tuesday, then the consultant must know this and should be invited. You are well-versed with your company’s culture, but your consultant won’t have a clue about it until you tell them.
Getting the most out of a consulting engagement depends upon you as well as the consultant. There’s a lot you can do from your side to control the final outcome. For example, selecting the best consultant from the right consulting platform, knowing when to lead and when to follow, and making the consultant feel like a member of the family. And most importantly, ask questions and learn as much as you possibly can from the consultant.