What Do Clients Want from Consultants?

If you’ve ever attended board meetings, you’ll quickly realize that everyone tends to have an opinion on how tasks should be carried out, what the next corporate initiative should be, or on corporate objectives in general.  The list of topics could go on, proving that leadership and management teams are never short on ideas, recommendations, or initiatives to save the day.  However, they often fall short on prioritization, focus, and execution.  

I often hear clients acknowledge that they know what needs to be done to improve their programs, but just can’t get around to completing the tasks.  These same clients are reluctant to hire consultants knowing full well that the “Findings and Proposed Solutions” will simply end up collecting dust on a bookshelf alongside numerous other forgotten proposals.  

My favorite response to this is: “Those who teach can’t do.”  

This applies to several leading consulting firms that staff their ranks with freshly minted MBA’s or executives who have filled advisory roles in most of their careers; giving good sounding advice without ever spending a day on the production floor.  These executives have never dealt with staffing challenges, have never managed diversified and sometimes difficult employees, and have never experienced financial setbacks or even struggled to meet payroll.  

These are some of the conditions, combined with fine education, that makes the difference between a Theoretical consultant that offers you “Findings & Recommendations” and a practical executioner that delivers “Solutions and Results”.   

My advice to clients is simple: if you want ideas and recommendations, talk to all your people.  From the shop floor to the executives, you will be amazed by the wealth of knowledge and inside information you can find. If you want to implement and execute some of these ideas to get results and reap timely benefits, then hiring the right consultant(s) may be your best idea yet. 

While leadership and management are so consumed with their daily jobs, consultants can serve as temporary boosts in horsepower to focus on completing tasks in an efficient, effective, and timely manner. Most successful consulting projects tend to pay for themselves out of re-captured productivity so there is no financial risk to the organization, only gains.   

If you are contemplating whether you need outside help or not, talk to several consultants to see what they can offer.  However, be sure you hire the right one for the unique needs of your company. 

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