Parents often experience this with their children: The child will ask a question, but doubt the correctness of the parent’s answer.
The child will then go ask the same question of a neighbor or another trusted adult and believe them instead. Even though the answers are the same, the child doesn’t see it that way. The difference is in the credibility of the source.
In business, you’ll see the same dynamic. An employee comes up with a good idea, but it fails to gain traction. Then a consultant comes from afar, makes the same proposal, and it is promptly accepted. Still those from outside your business sometimes often do have more clarity. They are not as close to the issues and daily routine of the practice. The combined insights of those you lead and the fresh perspectives of someone from outside the team can together lead to incredible results, which is what you want when you hire a consultant.
But before jumping all in and marveling at the freshness of a consultant’s vision, consider the following questions when you’re looking for the right source of guidance for your practice and your team.
What is their track record?
Anytime there is a spike in unemployment, the consulting profession sees an increase in its ranks. Those who have gained wisdom in their role, but not necessarily excelled in performance—or simply been caught by a stroke of bad luck, may endeavor to put out a shingle and claim to be a consultant.
But when you’re hiring a consultant, you don’t want to be his or her first rodeo. Unless you’re receiving a sharply reduced rate for being the beta customer, check the background and history of the consultants you’re looking to hire. Who have they worked with before? What were their results? Ask them to tell you about a time when they worked with a client whose needs were similar to yours.
Certainly, hiring a consultant for your practice may be the beginning of a successful consulting business journey, and working with a consultant who is new in the field is not always a bad idea. But knowing their history in the business and determining how much you value past experience will help you make a more valuable decision.
What is their knowledge base?
When hiring a consultant for your practice to improve your business or assess your team, it is tempting to hire one with similar experience in your industry. Tempting as it may be, this is not always best nor necessary.
One benefit of working with someone who consults professionally could be that person’s multi-industry back- ground. Perhaps an approach from a hospital client could provide you with an innovative chiropractic standard.
Perhaps a model from the retail world could resolve an issue that no other chiropractor has thought of or brought to market.
Consultants assess, address, and try to resolve problems. Often it is best to uncover their grasp of the genuine issue at hand, versus being skeptical of their work in other industries. Confirm the consultant’s view of the issue before insisting he or she have intimate experience in your industry and understand all the terminology. Experience in the first might get you the result you’re looking for, and experience in the second will just make your conversations shorter.
What do they see?
One of the initial benefits of hiring someone new to your team is gaining insight from all the things they can see that no one else can. You and your team are often unable to see the forest for the trees.
The same is true in consulting. Those first visits to your practice are invaluable because a consultant can see things that have become invisible to everyone else who works there.
The consultant can spot daily habits and even the stacks of paper nobody notices anymore. They won’t make excuses for this patient or that one, and they won’t overlook problems with the waiting-room furniture. Because everything they view is new to their eyes, they see it in the same way a new patient does.
They can also see things the way a new employee does (but might be afraid to point out). A consultant might also see what you’re missing that’s keeping your business from growing. And if you’ve hired the right one, they’ll know what needs to be done and will be willing to work with you to make it happen.
Consulting is a profession in which the provider and the client work jointly to achieve the desired results. Unlike coaches, consultants gather data, address issues, and create solutions they help to implement.
If you or the members of your practice are looking to hire a consultant, investigate their history of work performance and determine the value of their history in one or more industries. Then, schedule a meeting and ask them to tell you what they see relevant to your needs. These three pieces of data will help you make a confident, sound, and reasonable decision when it comes to hiring your ideal consultant.
Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development coach, consultant, and professional speaker. As CEO of training firm, Contagious Companies, Inc., she and her team work with chiropractic practices, healthcare, retail, hospitality and government industry leaders to develop their leadership skills. She can be contacted at 866-382-0121, or through contagiouscompanies.com.