Does the title “management consultant” make you think of a vague, nondescript role?
This could be true – management consulting opportunities and duties round out a vast area of the spectrum. Consulting is part of any job field, as is management. But the title gives more insight than one might realize. A management consult is an expert who is trained in assisting management teams to improve performance in all types of organizations. Though for-profit business is the most common type of business they work in, management consultants also provide assistance to government and nonprofit organizations. Each consultant will have their own specific field from tech to fashion to restaurant industries where the may flourish, but management consultants across the board are experts who provide advice and services to both struggling and thriving organizations.
Management consultants commonly use up-to-date methods and strategies to improve an organization overall. Businesses can have complex problems from operations to financial costs. Management consultants usually specialize in very specific management related strategies. These experts carry extensive industry insight, problem-solving abilities, and years of experience to be able to improve an organization’s efficiency. Once hired, management consultants conduct a thorough audit using research, analyzing internal data, interviewing employees, and may prepare and present reports on their findings.
Sometimes a management team cannot handle constructive criticism, and sometimes employees do not feel there is a friendly open door policy to communicate issues with them. Often, an entire department may be in such a rut with low company morale that nothing is being accomplished. This is where unbiased, constructive criticism comes into play. Removing the emotional tension that comes into effect when discussing job performance is integral in terms of helping an organization move forward and succeed.
Many people believe that consultants charge for information they may already have themselves. But think of it in terms as a personal trainer–while many of us know workout routines and diets, a trainer gives us a specific workout plan and diet regime for our body type, lifestyle, and health levels. We are not all the same. Nor is any organization. And sometimes we all need a little boost, advice, and accountability.
When organizations feel their employers are on their side, then their job performance spikes, resulting in happier clients. Sometimes, employers can lose sight as to what needs to be accomplished internally to get the executive team on the same page. A sloppy, ineffective and mismanaged executive team with unaligned goals can create chaos in the workplace.
This is why management consulting is so important – when a business is managed improperly or executives aren’t all on the same page, employees tend to feel that. The trickle-down effect of mismanagement begins to negatively influence each team and each individual member in the workplace. Chaos is contagious. Often, upper-level management can be so mired in the day-to-day that individual members of the executive team lose the ability to focus on the internal workings of the company.
Lazy and inefficient management can also cost thousands of dollars if not dealt with accordingly. Ineffective management methodology can be resolved in house through exposure of specific issues and proper correction – most often worked out when goals are established and upper-level management agrees to work as a team toward those shared goals.
These are some common factors that influence why organizations may call in a management consultant, but obviously, there are innumerable reasons. Clearly, a seasoned consultant with years of experience can develop a specific game plan to help any organization.
Therefore, while making a small investment in a consultant might seem costly at the start, the overall return for any organization’s success is far greater.
So, what should one look for in a management consultant?
Now we’ve established that a consultant might be effective, it’s time to talk about separating wheat from chaff in terms of the selection. There’s surely an abundance of highly educated people out there who are well-versed in business and management. How do you vet the right management consultant for any business? After all, finding the best fit for any business can make or break the total experience.
First things first: find a consultant who has a deep and extensive knowledge of the given industry. The right consultant will know the specific target audience, clients, and type of employees. They understand the material and what is being sold or bought, whether we’re talking about services or products. They also need to have a true understanding of new and modern methods of management and training. This is key.
Double check their success rate – the numbers will never lie. It’s important to talk to organizations they have previously worked with and hear about their experiences–were their needs improved and changed for the better, even after the consultant left? Cost reduction is also key. Any management consultant who can’t surface metrics that tell the story about their previous experience may not be worth investing in. As always, the key metric is cash.
Once the right management consultant is vetted and brought in, it’s important for the executive team to furnish that consultant with what they need for success. It’s important that the management consultant be set up to win, not fail, by being allowed to remove obstacles toward success. It’s surprising the number of businesses who spend the investment money on a consultant, yet don’t “get out of their own way” once the consultant is placed.
Trust is key, and the management consultant needs to be given the authority and go-ahead to surface issues and solve them using internal resources, as well as bringing in external when it fits a particular situation.
Managers need to be involved in this process. If a consultant wants to just “talk and not do the work” with you, find another one. Bringing in the right talent across the board is one of the most pivotal components to your success story, so take care to work with a consultant who works toward the goal – and not necessarily just to make the brass happy. Your success depends on it.