Fall 2020 Issue

As the Owner or CEO, you have a huge responsibility towards your organization. However, you can’t do everything alone. If the systems and processes you have in place are leaving something to be desired, you might not see where the problem is.

In my own experience as a client, I was always pleasantly surprised by the objective feedback I received. That objective viewpoint, when paired with broad industry experience, can be very enlightening and helpful. Finding the right management consultant can make all the difference.

A management consultant can provide you with this objective, considered perspective, coupled with accurate analysis and suggestions for your business going forward. But, as for any other position, hiring a management consultant can be challenging. If you don’t hire the right person, your problems likely won’t get resolved. Here's what to look for in a management consultant:

1. Deep Understanding of Your Business and Needs
A management consultant has to be able to understand the specific needs of your organization. Depending on your needs, this may require industry experience. There are situations, though, such as overall organization performance improvements, where industry experience is not a requirement. Some of the fundamentals of organization performance are rooted in the nature of human interactions and capability. These are similar across all industries and cultures.

A consultant must also be aware of and sensitive to the size and scope of your business. There is a difference between consulting with larger corporations and small businesses. They might have similar problems, but require different levels of resources to deal with them.

There is a tendency to overcomplicate the service provision to small and medium size businesses by using models that have been proven in the Fortune 1000. This may be overkill for you. A good management consultant will always be aware of what your resources are and should be able to work within that framework.

2. Ability to Identify What You May Be Doing Wrong
If you have tried and failed time and again to identify the issues that prevent your organization from maximizing its potential, you may feel that no management consultant will be able to do it either. Actually, the correct diagnosis of organizational opportunities for improvement using an impartial approach is one of the greatest benefits of hiring a consultant.

You will provide them with all the information that is relevant to your specific concerns. Setting the context for the problem you are trying to solve is very important. But don’t try to identify the solution – you are engaging the consultant to help you get to root cause.

All too often, problem identification is at the symptomatic level – the management consultant will help you get to root cause. Your context will then be supplemented with a reassessment of your current state. This may include interviews or surveys, or both, to gather information in a scientific and objective way.  

With that information, management consultants can figure out where you need to improve and how you might do it. It’s imperative to make sure that the consultant you hire will be conducting a proper analysis of your business.

3. Ability to Suggest More than One Solution
One significant part about having a management consultant to help out is a fresh perspective and having an analysis showing facts that support it. However, helping an organization at the executive level means that there would be various options for tackling the issue at hand. While there may be issues that are universal to organizations, such as the lack of accountability and proper work delegation, they could also be more subtle and allow for different solutions.

A management consultant should be able to suggest various solutions for you to choose from. The project should include, at its conclusion, a facilitated discussion of the report and its recommendations. The purpose of the project should not be to give you a checklist of options.

Rather, you should understand the options, and the pros and cons of each. Through a facilitated discussion with your executive team, the consultant should help you make a decision for change that will best address the problem you have identified.

4. Confidentiality and Reliability
While it may seem that privacy and reliability should come without saying, it isn’t always the case. Since you will be providing a lot of sensitive management-related information to the consultant, you should look for those that will protect the confidentiality of that information.

Additionally, the management consultant you hire should also be reliable and have your business’ best interest at heart. Essentially, the management consultant you engage is the one that makes you feel like you can count on them to be there when you need them.

5. Engage a Professional
In most countries, consulting is not a regulated profession. This means that there is a very low barrier to entry. Anyone who is recently retired, between jobs, or starting out can label themselves as a consultant. If you are engaging a management consultant, and trusting them with the future of your business, be sure you are engaging someone who is: 

  • Committed to the profession of management consulting
  • Is a member of an Institute of Management Consulting
  • Has signed a Code of Professional Conduct and will share it with you

How does a Management Consultant show they are committed to the profession?
The highest level of commitment is that they are a Certified Management Consultant. This shows that the consultant has been through a rigorous process of proving to their peers in an Institute that they have the knowledge, experience, and competencies to be a professional.

The CMC has global reciprocity and standards are monitored by ICMCI, the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes.

Management consultants also now have the option of becoming certified in the use of the ISO 20700 checklist training. This ISO standard, the first in the world for service delivery, lays out the basis for the contracting, delivery and closing of projects.

This standard assures full transparency of projects. Following the ISO 20700 standard ensures you have the proper structure for implementing your consulting project and that the consultant you engage with has the exact same understanding of what you will do, how you will do it, and by when it will be done. 

Being a management consultant is wonderful because you can help clients overcome their organizational issues through growth and partnership. It’s extremely rewarding to work in this field.

Engaging a good consultant can be scary, but there are tools that can help you find a great fit. You should definitely look for the consultants that are able to identify root causes correctly, offer you multiple solutions, facilitate your decision-making, and be confidential and reliable. To help with all of these, look for the mark of a professional.

Dwight had been a management consultant practicing in Canada and around the world for over 20 years. He has volunteered extensively in his career, having served as Chair, UNICEF Canada, as Treasurer and Chair of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI), and a number of other national and international bodies.

Dwight has founded and is President of Effective Managers™, a management consulting firm based in Canada, providing services globally. The firm uses The Resilient Organization Program™ help Owners and CEOs find and fix root cause problems that hinder success.

Dwight can be reached through: www.effectivemanagers.com