As someone involved in consulting for over three decades, it may appear somewhat self serving for me to write an article regarding whether someone should hire a consultant. In some ways it may be, but not for the reasons that you might expect.
My intent in writing this article is not to convince anyone to use a consultant, but rather what qualifications one should look for before considering anyone as a consultant. In addition, since all consultants are not equal in knowledge, expertise, or results, I have found that those “consultants” that use the “one size fits all” method are often not consulting, but merely trying to sell something. These individuals masquerading as consultants often smear the image of professional consultants.
A consultant should only be utilized if you have a well thought out and considered reason for speaking to one. What is your intent in looking for a consultant? What are you hoping that a consultant can and will do for you? Therefore, the first step any individual, business or organization should do is formulate their objectives – – that is, what they wish to accomplish. What is the goal? What are the needs? What are the financial implications of either taking action, or maintaining the status quo?
True consultants do not begin with a self serving agenda, or any preconceived notion of what they will recommend. Professional consulting should always begin with an exploration stage. That means that there must be a “getting to know you” beginning, where the consultant predominantly observes and listens, and only comments when asking probing questions that might enhance the understanding.
Every aspect must be reviewed before comment, because different organizations have different cultures, ethos, and missions, as well as varying financial needs and requirements. A consultant must be given the latitude to delve thoroughly in all interrelated area, and not feel pressured to agree with any presently existing attitude or behavior. An individual or organization that is unwilling to be critiqued and even criticized should not hire a consultant, because any consultant that agrees to an engagement without that kind of freedom, is certainly not a professional, and almost invariably will not offer any valuable input. Similarly, any consultant that has a tendency to lead all clients in the same direction, is not honoring the true code of a professional.
Professional consultants would far rather not take on a client than to be hindered in doing the best job possible. Organizations and their leaders must fully understand this premise before deciding whether or not to engage the services of a consultant.
Richard Brody has over 30 years consultative sales, marketing, training, managerial, and operations experience. He has trained sales and marketing people in numerous industries, given hundreds of seminars, appeared as a company spokesperson on over 200 radio and television programs, and regularly blogs on real estate, politics, economics, management, leadership, negotiations, conferences and conventions, etc. Richard has negotiated, arranged and/ or organized hundreds of conferences and conventions. Richard is a Senior Consultant with RGB Consultation Services, an Ecobroker, a Licensed Buyers Agent (LBA) and Licensed Salesperson in NYS, in real estate.