A Good Consultant Gives it to You Straight

“When the conversations at the top are focused on fixing everyone else, the conversation is going in the wrong direction.”

A Good Consultant Gives it to You Straight

Sycophant is a word that needs to make a comeback. If everyone around you is agreeing with you and not challenging your thinking, you might be surrounded by sycophants. If everything seems to be functioning well and your team is highly productive and satisfied, then you are doing it right. On the other hand, if you detect that there is more going on, it might be time to have someone give it to you straight. There’s a balance though, and shopping around for the right consultant is critical. Here are some tips to find the right fit for your team.

Straight-Talk, with Positive Intent      When shopping around for a good consultant, listen for the way they talk to you. They need to assess your system and come to the table with workable solutions. They will find weak spots, but do their focus needs to be on improving and finding leverage points to fix the system. At times, this means that there are people who may no longer fit with your organization, but does this consultant talk about handing tools to people, or letting these resources in your company go? The consultant should be giving it to you straight, but in a productive, solutions-focused way.      They should also have an exit plan allowing for others to do the work as they hand off their skills. It’s okay to have them come do a system check-up once in a while, but a straight-talking consultant is not looking for a full-time position with you. It’s understandable that you might want to hire your consultant, but if that is their motivation, they might be thinking of their own careers and not what is best for your company.

Vision         Understand the vision and mission of the consultant or group they work for. In looking for a consultant, you have to understand what your goals for your company are and find a consultant that aligns with your company’s vision. Some consultants will help you with the bottom line, some support compliance, others are ready to train technical skills into your workforce. There are consultants for every aspect of your business and shopping around for a vision is the key.

Technical v. Cultural       If you are looking for a cultural change, be sure you are ready for some inner reflection. When the conversations at the top are focused on fixing everyone else, the conversation is going in the wrong direction. When gossip and discontent prevails among the staff, then the entire organization needs to reorient. While looking for management consulting, or a shift in the system, the change has to be modeled at the top. A good consultant is there to hold everyone accountable, help people cope with the discomfort of change, and hand everyone the skills to move in a new direction. 

     A skilled leader understands that there is a time to find someone to be productively honest. It is natural for leaders to get caught in the mud. Sometimes they help to see balcony view as a reminder of the values that brought them success in the first place.