By Jennifer D. Kluge
May 20, 2010
I had the pleasure of meeting with an entrepreneur this week wanting to become a business coach/consultant. She was reaching out to see what my experiences have been with consultants. The first thought I had is great, the world doesn’t really need another consultant. I should probably coach this person on not coaching others with over-promised expectations.
As I thought about the past 10 years and the consultants we have worked with, many have failed and only a few stand out. What all the “failures” had in common were that they didn’t take ownership of the project from start to finish. Now I know, it sounds like a “duh” and it should be common sense that a consultant would see the project through to the end. For example, a majority of the consultants put the onus on us to lead the project, schedule the meetings, set the tasks, check in on the status of work, etc. Not what I expected; those consultants always failed. They didn’t manage our expectations and only left us disappointed.
If I had the time to manage the project myself, I would do it myself, hence I would not need to pay a consultant to do if for me. Again, “duh”, but 80 percent of you are doing this now. When was the last time you updated a client on the status of the project, within a week? When was the last time you reached out to a client in between projects, within a month? When was the last time you got the work done for the client without a meeting to talk it to death? Are 80 percent of the deliverables still pending?
I have hired consultants, even flew them out to meet my team. We had a great meeting, great project — good results and never heard from them again. It’s not my job to manage the relationship.
I have hired consultants that are assigned 10 items and only got 2 of them done in the scope of work and timeframe. I was under-whelmed; they are no longer a consultant with us.
I have hired numerous consultants that like to talk and walk. One in particular, took our initial payment and left us high and dry without the scope of work being completed.
The consultants that stood out, held me, the client, accountable. They scheduled the meetings, they did the legwork, they ensured the work kept flowing. And to this day, I still work with them. Why, because they solved my greatest pain. They didn’t leave, they aggressively reach out between projects and help create more work for themselves and relief for me at the same time. To me, working with consultants is about getting the project done, meeting the goals and to continuously challenge my thinking and know-how.
The successful consultants saw it through. They don’t feel like consultants to me, but a valuable member of our team. A consultant is expendable. Which one are you?