The Value of Consultants (Why Consultants? Part I)
I am not a consultant. I am a CEO, and I am an attorney. I am the leader in the organizations I operate. So why do I recommend that companies employ consultants? And what do I expect consultants to do?
Part I: The Value of Consultants
My companies have several key employees. My key employees are my money-makers. They do the work that generates 95% of our company revenue. I also have support employees. I hire support employees to do the work that doesn’t generate revenue. I want to maximize the amount of time my key employees spend generating revenue.
I also use support employees to manage daily employee activity. When an employee asks about their health benefits, I refer the question to a support employee. When an employee is failing to keep the timesheet or sales data up to date, I ask another support employee to follow up with them. All of our processes are managed by support employees.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to run my companies. I think about the products and services we sell and how to improve them. I think about the technology and processes that we use and how to improve them. I think about our marketing strategies and how to improve our marketing. I look at our customer data, our performance data and industry data, and I analyze opportunities. When an employee is confronted with a business issue they can’t solve, they come to me for a solution. In sum, I provide the bulk of the leadership in my companies.
Where I run into trouble is when I want to introduce a significant change to the way we operate our business, because I don’t have the time to make sure that my directions are implemented by individual employees. I frequently tell employees how I want something to be done, watch them do it once or twice, and then discover a month later that they have returned to their previous habits.
The same thing occurs when I consult with the owner of a small business. I can analyze his operations and make recommendations for how he should improve his business, but I frequently come back a month later to find that none of the recommended changes have been implemented.
Implementation is where consultants come in. I have handed employees off to consultants for one-on-one attention. The consultant spends a couple of hours each week making sure of two things: 1) the employee understands the instructions and training provided to him; and 2) the employee is following the instructions and using the training as they conduct their business.
To me, a good consultant is an essential change agent. They operate outside of the culture of our company, so they don’t bring some of the baggage that comes when a peer within our company tries to help another employee make a change. The consultant understands the business principles necessary to improve our operations, and the consultant has the people skills to help my employees make significant changes. A good consultant is the fastest means to effective change within a company.Read the rest of this series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4