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The “C “word…Consultants- 5 things to do before engaging one

Many businesses, from small to large have either thought about engaging consultants or have actually engaged them. Depending on what you would like them to do for you, there is a consultant out there who could meet your business needs ranging from independent consultants right through to consulting firms.

I have had the pleasure of working internally for a number of organisations in my time who have LOVED consultants and an organisation who was, well, almost ALLERGIC to them.

During these experiences I learnt a lot about consultants, having engaged them to conduct work for me and whilst observing them when engaged by other departments and or small/medium sized organisations. I have seen fantastic ones and I have seen questionable ones.

As in the case of one of my previous employers being allergic to them- okay that was a wee exaggeration- truthfully though, I actually learnt a lot during that experience. Despite the fact no one was allowed to mention the “C” word (true!), it was pretty clear the organisation had formed a fundamental view that consultants cost too much, hung around for too long and didn’t really deliver…on much. Having changed my career from an internal HR professional to an external HR consultant I understand more than ever how important it is to be aware of these perceptions and how important it is to prove otherwise.

Okay, so back to the story, with my employer having been burnt in the past by poor performing consultants, I was nervous when I approached my superior about the desire to “outsource” some work needed (ie; engage an external consultant). Upon delivering my reasons for the identified need to outsource some work, I was met with a number of questions, it was like I was under interrogation, and rightfully so, why on earth would the organisation what to engage a..a…a dare I say it…   CONSULTANT! But being the thorough HR person I am, I too thought about these things (having regard to their fundamental concerns mentioned earlier), and happily shared my considered responses resulting in the request approved! I couldn’t believe it. These questions helped to clearly put in place parameters around ensuring I had found the right one and trust in that the external consultant wasn’t going to be allowed to ‘run loose’ and fail to deliver results, whilst finding reasons to hang around for eons all the while lining their back pockets (these ones will cause an allergy).

  1. Do they know their stuff?

The consultant should be appropriately educated and trained in their area of expertise. Their experience in the field is also paramount in determining if they truly do know what they are talking about.

  1. Do you feel comfortable enough to work with them?

Having rapport with the consultant is important. You need to feel comfortable in their presence where you can still express freely how you think things are going even if they are going well or not.

  1. Do you know what you want them to do for you?

Knowing clearly what it is that you need the consultant/s to do for you is vital. Having a defined pathway or checklist is important to ensure the engagement remains on point, has some milestone checkpoints and delivers on the results you are seeking.

  1. Do you have an end goal or defined deadline?

Further to the above, a clear outcome should be determined up front, no wishy washy stuff. You should expect your consultant to come in, get the job done and then leave you in a better position than where you were before engaging them.

  1. Do they have a proven track record of delivering results?

Ask questions about previous experience. Client testimonials are important.

When you’ve got the right consultant working for you they can have an invaluable contribution to the success of your business- gainful and temporary. On the other hand, if you get it wrong, you too might be banning the “C” word from being uttered in your workplace.

Should you be considering a HR Consultant to work with you on any of your HR business needs, give us a call today. Ask us these questions or any question for that matter, we’re more than happy to answer them to see if we are the right consultants for you- chances are we might be!

Written by Senior HR Guru Angela Olanda

 

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