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5 Wrong Reasons to Hire a Consultant

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Published:
August 14, 2020
Reading Time:
9 minutes
Leo Saini
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

It’s very easy to find independent consultants these days. There are a lot of credible online consulting marketplaces that can connect you with hundreds of top management consultants and staff your project within 48 hours - no kidding.

Usually, businesses hire consultants to fill in a skill gap, train its employees, or while implementing new processes in the company. These are undoubtedly some right reasons to hire a consultant.

But what’s your reason behind hiring a consultant? You can’t hire them just because they’re cute. Well, you could, but that’s not the best reason to hire one. And that’s not it - there are several other ‘wrong’ reasons to hire consultants which we’ll discuss in this blog.

The Most Common

Reason 1: You Think That a Consultant Is a Genie and You Have the Lamp

A major reason why companies hire independent consultants is that they are professional problem solvers. It’s true, a top consultant will most likely solve your problem, but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. As a business owner, even you have a certain responsibility to work alongside the consultant and actually implement their recommendations.

Oftentimes, when companies are looking for independent consultants for the first time, they might think that all they need to do is hire a consultant and the rest will take care of itself. Well, it hardly ever works that way. In reality, you, your team, and the consultant have to work closely together. Having a consultant on board to help you navigate through unknown waters is definitely helpful, but always remember that, ultimately, you’re the owner of the boat.

And if you find a consultant who’s talking about taking all the risk on their shoulders, then that’s a red flag, too. It’s far better to set realistic expectations upfront so that you can maintain a positive relationship with the consultant. Your consultant is not a genie who can make all your wishes come true. So when you hire one, brainstorm how both of you can work together as a team and reach your destination.

My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions. - Peter Drucker

What Else?

Reason 2: You Have Already Made up Your Mind

Let’s consider an example to understand this point well. Suppose a couple of senior executives in a company want to expand the business into Australia, but the CEO disagrees. The CEO then hires a consultant and tells them to gather some data and somehow reach the conclusion that Australia is not a good market to expand into. The consultant drafts a manipulated analysis and proves that Australia, indeed, is a bad market. Now everybody in the company agrees with the CEO because a so-called ‘external expert’ has validated the decision.

Now ask yourself: Is this a moral way to behave in an organization? Sometimes, high-ranking officials in a company hire independent consultants and tell them to shape facts in a specific way to obtain desired results. Of course, data can be manipulated to derive a predetermined conclusion. This means that if you pay a consultant to prove that a new CRM software can increase sales, they can do it. And if you pay them to prove that the same CRM software is outdated and overpriced, they can do it, too. A company might easily be able to find independent consultants who would do such things. However, just remember that it’s not an ethical reason to hire a consultant.

Reason 3: You Expect a Consultant to Share Trade Secrets of Their Previous Clients

Let’s begin this point with some inappropriate questions:

“So what was the annual revenue of your previous client?”

“Where did they source their raw materials from?”

“Why did Chris leave the company?”

A business owner who asks these questions to a consultant probably has no idea how uncomfortable they’re making them. It’s a fact that a consultant will surely acquire a lot of confidential information while working with a company. But that information is protected by a non-disclosure agreement. Anyway, who’s going to get caught leaking a company’s trade secrets, right? Well, it’s not just about that. If you hire independent consultants who share confidential information about their previous clients with you, remember that they can also leak your company’s private information to others.

On the other hand, rest assured that you'll be able to find independent consultants who will use their experience with previous clients to provide the best results for your business. After all, a consultant’s experience with other companies is what makes them a top consultant. Just don’t expect them to reveal specific details about other companies they have worked for. A good consultant will never do that.

Reason 4: You See Consultants as Robots Who Can Work 24/7

When you hire full-time employees, their hours of work are fixed - usually, from 9 AM to 5 PM Monday to Friday with a 30-minute lunch break. However, when you hire independent consultants, it’s unlikely that their statement of work would contain fixed hours of work (unless they’re charging by the hour). That means, contractually, they can work as many hours as they can. But if you’re looking for independent consultants just because you can make them work harder than your permanent employees, your strategy might backfire sometime during your engagement.

Consultants should be treated as your employees - even if they’re outsiders working on a temporary project. It’s true that independent consultants are famous for working longer hours than other professionals. Nonetheless, a little empathy goes a long way. Let them have a break if you feel like they’re stressed out because of work. Let go of the belief that a business owner is meant to squeeze as much work from a consultant as possible.

All you should care about is the results - and they can be achieved in a 40-hour workweek. The bottom line is: it’s not about long hours, it’s about a consultant’s experience, efficiency, and passion for their work.

Last But Not Least

Reason 5: You Don’t Trust Your Own Team

There’s a difference between ‘talking at someone’ and ‘talking to someone’. If you’re hiring a consultant to talk at your team, it’s not going to be good for your team’s overall self-esteem. There’s nothing wrong with coaching and upskilling your team, but a good employer will never undermine their employees by not trusting them. If the act of hiring a consultant makes your employees question their capability, it’s probably not the best idea to ignore the situation.

hire independent consultants, 5 Wrong Reasons to Hire a Consultant

Let your team know why exactly you are hiring a consultant. Requiring temporary manpower for a short-term project or needing an expert opinion on something are good reasons to hire independent consultants. However, implying that your employees are too young, old, or inexperienced to handle the job internally is not a good reason. Lead your team and motivate them to make decisions confidently, instead of hiring a consultant to show your employees how incompetent they are.

So What’s Your Reason?

After having read all of this, I hope you have understood the wrong reasons to hire a consultant now. To ensure that you make the most out of your relationship with your consultant, keep the aforementioned ‘wrong’ reasons in mind. Your motive behind hiring a consultant will have a major impact on the final outcome. Times have changed and consultants are very easily accessible these days through online freelance platforms. So finding a top consultant isn’t really difficult - it’s brainstorming the right reason to hire one that takes time.