You are not at the mercy of consultants. As a manager, you may find yourself going beyond your immediate team and outside the organization to hire consultants. Having been on both sides, as client and as consultant, here are some of my insights on making consulting relationships work.
Consultants are a varied species. A first step in managing consultants is to set your preferences. Do you want a small or large firm? How much is cost a factor? What working style must the consultant have to add value to your work? It is often a challenge to get through the marketing hype – not doing so, however, can be fatal. Get a set of questions ready that zero in on what you want. Always check references, beyond an initial screen.
When a consultant comes on board, clarity, articulating expectations and setting performance measures are essential to successful teaming. This is an area where some consultants “dance’. They have their own ideas of what they want to do and consider their value as knowing more that you. Not true. They are as much a member of your team as your in-house team and you need them to collaborate.
Another important factor, from the consulting side of the relationship, is to be treated with respect. Too often (although at times justified), consultants are maligned. If disrespect develops in your relationship, the consultant should not be there. They are not providing what you need. However, if your consultant is being grouped, disrespectfully, in a negative category, that is not fair. Consultants are a varied species and each relationship is one-on-one.
In my article, ORGANIC CONSULTING: A Way To Give Your Clients Maximum Value, I offer one perspective on how consultants and their clients can maximize the value of a consultant’s work.