Good consultants can make a lot of positive difference to an organization. But finding a right consultant or coach requires careful evaluation. These days, a lot of people are offering their consulting services to businesses. Before finalizing any such association, it is advisable to cross-check certain qualities. It is also advisable to be careful about some obvious potential errors. Sometimes, an association with wrong consultants results in an immense loss to the company, which is sometimes irreversible. It is advisable to avoid such a hazard.
While looking for a consultant or a coach, remember that an entrepreneur’s mind is similar to that of a king’s mind. If you listen to and implement the advice of mediocre people, you will create a mediocre business. For growing a great business, you must associate with the right consultants who have the right competencies for the job. We should be very careful in choosing our consultants.
Following are some of the characteristics of any consultant which should be identified early on:
1. Right Domain Knowledge and Credentials
Consultants must have the domain experience in the area of expertise we are engaging them in.
This experience must be relevant to what we are trying to accomplish. E.g. if you are hiring for marketing consulting, the consultant should have proven experience in marketing, above everything else.
Similarly, she should have an experience of working with the right kind of clients. E.g. an experience of working with small-time traders does not help bigger organizations with different types of challenges.
A consultant must have walked the walk. Only theoretical knowledge won’t count in business practices. Real life application is the most important in business. Find out if they have made mistakes or failed and recovered from any setbacks they encountered in businesses or life.
An experienced consultant must have gone through a range of business situations; hence they must have developed a matured and seasoned attitude to take all this in their stride.
Most of the effective consultants have few decades of experience. It is preferable if they have had some real business experience, either owning it or working at some senior position in a business. Remember, it is not only the number of years, but the quality of that experience also must be checked.
Consultants must have an ability to see and articulate the big picture. They should be able to see the larger part of the business and they should be able to guide the business leaders towards achieving it.
Many individual consultants send their junior assistants to work in the client companies on their behalf. This generally does not work effectively, unless the consulting organization has world-class systems, standards and processes.
2. People-friendly Attitude
Consultants interact with some members of our company, so they must be professional in their approach. Their people skills must be excellent.
Our employees, as well as our consultants, must have the right attitude. And the right attitude is the combination of right thoughts, feelings, and right actions.
Consultants must be emotionally mature to handle various types of people, situations, and challenges. They must not get upset too easily.
They should not bring their arrogance, ego or personal idiosyncrasies to the business. Instead of solving business problems, such behavior may cause newer problems in our company.
An ideal consultant is very patient, but also very persistent and determined.
A consultant must have a high degree of listening skills. They should not be always speaking only. That is why selecting a good speaker as a consultant backfires most of the times because if the person is not mature enough and lacks listening skills, he won’t be able to be effective beyond giving some Gyan all the time.
In a nutshell, a consultant must have a personality with which all our key people must be comfortable to work.
Ask for testimonials from prospective consultants. Also do reference check before hiring a consultant, if possible. The past clients will share their experience, which will help you to evaluate the proposal better. Try to find out whether the consultant has made a positive difference at companies he had worked with.
Search for them on Internet search engines. Look for reviews and positive or negative comments. This will give you a general idea.
Don’t go by the photographs on the person’s own website alone. They may be misleading.
Check their reputation on social media. Social media can be ruthlessly honest. The true response will be available on social media which is difficult to “manage” or manipulate.
If the person has any publications (blogs, books, videos etc.) in public domain, try to check the reviews for the same.