Working with Consultants: 4 Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

June 5, 2017

Hiring a professional consultant can drive growth and even save a failing business. It can also be a disaster if not well-executed. Avoid these common pitfalls and get the most out of your consultant relationships: 

1. All Theory—No Substance

Some consultants fail to deliver practical takeaways and instead offer vague theories, industry jargon, or the latest management fads. Under these circumstances, plans are largely unexecutable because they lack strategies to assign adequate resources and to integrate across the company divisions. Be leery of consultants who use too many buzzwords or tend to state the obvious using convoluted terms. Ditch the empty promises by insisting on data-backed research and measurable outcomes.

2. Wrong Fit

A consultant is a member of your team and an extension of you, so make sure he or she complements your company’s vision and culture. Qualified candidates should have a deep understanding of your unique market and industry and should be able to articulate the specific problem you seek to address. 

3. Communications Jam

Even the best consultants are made useless if they can’t communicate properly with you and your staff. Be clear about the role of every consultant and every member of your staff that will be involved in the project. Have a plan that specifically defines how and when you and your consultant(s) will communicate on progress, problems, and permissions. Document everything and schedule periodic status meetings. 

4. No Exit Plan

It’s tempting to hire consultants then let them run the show with little involvement from you or your staff, but the objective of hiring a consultant is to align your company for future success long after the consultant is gone. Stay hands-on every step of the way, create milestones that are described in measurable or concrete terms, and insist that all work is documented so that anyone can take over when the consultant leaves. 

Now that you know how to avoid the pitfalls, learn How to Boost Business Strategy with Consultants.