Leave the Bat-Signal to Gotham City and Hire a Management Consultant

Organizational leaders are accustomed to dealing with challenges, whether it involves increasing profitability, gaining market share, or handling an acquisition, most are equipped with the skills necessary to get the job done. However, as invincible as these leaders appear to be with their infinite energy, ubiquitous confidence, and charismatic presence, they can’t solve everything. So what is an incisive, successful leader to do when s/he recognizes an issue that threatens the stability of the company but is unable to offer any viable solutions? Use the Bat-Signal and hope for the best?

Unless you have an employee whom eerily characterizes the Joker, it’s best to leave a fictitious super hero at the Cineplex and pursue the assistance of an objective professional that can provide executable, concrete advice to resolve any menacing organizational issues. Over the past three decades management consulting has permeated the business world with legitimate management theories, practices, and success stories to ill-fated trendy, inefficient resolutions that can leave an organization in worse shape than it was before they arrived.

Enterprise management consulting firms, boutique consulting firms, and everything in between exist on the market. With so many options it can be a daunting task to decide which firm your company should work with. You may even feel like you need a consultant to help you find a consultant.

Despite the fact that the many options available to you are overwhelming, there are a few simple steps you can take to narrow the field on what types of firms you should interview with and ultimately select.

First, what existing problems are causing your organization distress? Do they relate to strategy or tactical procedures? The size of your company is another issue to consider when reviewing management consultants. Will one particular change effect a specific department or the entire company? Once you have identified the issues and stakeholders involved, it’s time to decide what your expectations are should you hire a consultant.

Expectations are perhaps, the most important area of focus for any management consultant to be aware of when working with a client. If they are not aware of the results the client would like to see at the conclusion of a project, they are performing their work off of a foundation of assumptions instead of known facts.

Before considering which management consultant to hire, it is critical that you as a client know what you want. Carefully decide what improvements you expect to see within a defined timeframe and budget so the consultant can design their consulting plan accordingly. There is nothing worse than companies spending thousands of dollars on a management consultant with nothing to show for it. It is your responsibility as a leader to perform your due diligence.

After you have defined your problem and your expectations, it is time to solicit recommendations and referrals from collegues and other members of your network that have experience working with management consulting firms. If your network does not have any firsthand recommendations on who you should work with, use the Internet to research reputable firms to compile a list to interview.

When researching which consultants may best suit your needs be sure to keep in mind your problem and find consulting firms that meet your needs. For instance, if you’re looking at increasing profitability, it is best to interview firms that specialize in finance and accounting rather than working with a human resource consulting firm. Once you have a few firms in the pipeline to interview, be sure to learn about their management philosophy to see if it aligned with yours. If not, the chances that you will apply any of their recommendations is slim to none. Similarly, remember to share your expectations and the end-result you would like to see with their assistance.

After reviewing your options and selecting a specific management consultant to go with, it is important to keep in mind that your participation in any consulting project is important, in fact, critical to witnessing any long-term success. The commencement of any consulting project is also the beginning of a partnership between you and your consultant. If you have chosen someone whom can identify with the leadership philosophy you posses and has particular experience in your area of need, the execution of their recommendations should result in measurable changes to your company.