As a management consultant, it is important to understand the boundaries of your role and the expectations of your clients. It is essential to avoid participating in cultural, political, or religious discussions while consulting, as this can be seen as presumptuous. Additionally, it is important to provide clients with specific timelines and to understand their needs before offering solutions. Furthermore, it is essential to establish a formal agreement that protects both parties and to use problem-solving techniques and persuasive logic when making recommendations.
Finally, it is important to understand the wide range of activities that are included in management consulting and to emphasize process skills when recruiting and developing staff. When consulting, it is important to remember that the goal is not to teach managers how to manage. Instead, the consultant should focus on helping members identify learning needs and suggest or help design opportunities for learning about work planning methods, workgroup assignments, goal-setting processes, and so on. It may be wise not to cite executive learning as an explicit goal. To avoid making common mistakes, here are five proven ways for new consultants:
- Offer contracts to clients - only three out of fifteen consultants I recently asked had one in place.
- Understand that quality contracts are established to protect both parties.
- Listen to the client's specific problems and explain what value you can bring to solving them.
- Provide clients with specific timelines for gathering information.
- Translate your expertise into a voice that is easily understandable by your target audience.
Additionally, maintaining an inexpensive office and showing your client what you're worth through ROI metrics can help demonstrate your value. Finally, when recommending actions, it is important to understand what actions are likely to be implemented and where people are prepared to do things differently. This will help ensure that the consultant does not usurp the manager's work.