Being an effective consultant
A consultant is a person who provides professional or expert advice in a particular field of science or business to either an organisation or individual. Business consultants serve as professional advisors to help companies achieve their goals or streamline operations in a particular area of the business.
Sadly, many companies avoid working with consultants as consulting has a bad reputation, not only in South Africa but worldwide, mainly due to money spent on impractical data, weak recommendations, and poorly implemented strategies.
Working with an effective consultant can however be seen as an investment rather than an expenditure, as effective consultants use their expertise to plan and co-create data driven & people-oriented strategies and support their clients through the planning and execution phases to ensure goals are achieved or even exceeded.
Being an effective consultant means that you:
- Are well informed: You fully understanding your client’s needs and challenges. You have access to and / or collect the necessary data that would guide your planning and decision making.
- Get buy-in: Clients need to see the need and value. Clients need to be on-board as change is a team effort and in the long-term, the strategy is owned by the organization. Ownership can only be assigned if you have buy-in.
- Provide practical solutions and recommendations to existing problems by identifying and diagnosing the root cause. By addressing root cause, you remedy the problem rather than addressing the symptoms. You co-create strategies and long-term solutions that not only remedy current problems but also prevent these problems from presenting itself in future.
- Facilitate client learning: Create a deep understanding of the problem, viable solutions, the journey, desired outcomes, goals, and the strategy itself. When people understand the Why, there is purpose in what needs to be done. The What, Why, Who, When and How creates the deep understanding.
- Assist with implementation. Provide support and measure the impact and effectiveness of strategy components as they are implemented. Review strategies and help the client tweak or adjust the strategy if needed.
Your ultimate goal as a business consultant is to help your clients improve organizational effectiveness in specific areas. The above steps can help you achieve those desired outcomes. An effective consultant leads their client by sharing expert insight, join them on their change journey by walking the walk with them and then follow to provide continuous support as long as it is needed. You not only consult, but partner with your client on their road to success.