Depending on the level of efficiency and quality of your previous work experiences, you might have already worked with a mangement consultant at some point in your career or you might be at a loss to consider how a consultant could possibly impact your team. Whatever end of the spectrum you fall on, let's take a second to consider why a management consultant might be necessary in an organization and what can be expected from their participation and influence.
First, why would an organization consider bringing in an outside consultant?
Typically, the answer is as easy as understanding that the organization has recognized an internal problem that they do not know how to fix with the help of others. While their indentified "problems" are not always necessarily what is causing the organzational issues, some examples of common problems that organizations think they have are:
- labor inefficiencies
- poor team dymanics
- poor management effectiveness
A big piece to acknowledge and recognize about a management consultant is that while they will obviously be aware of what "problems" have been identified by the organization, a good consultant will spend the first part of their time assisting the organization in analyzing the current operation and drawing their own conclusions about what problems need to be addressed to improve organization effectiveness.
This is the first part of what you can expect to see if you organization brings in a management consultant. Each will have different methods of gathering data, but all will use some combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Depending on the size of the organization and team, this data gathering stage can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months.
Once they have gathered enough data, the consultant will present their best estimation of the actual problems occuring in an organization and their best plan to pursue change moving forward. If the organization agrees with what the consultant has presented it is common for one of two things to take place; either the organization will work to move forward with the plan on their own or the consultant will remain on to execute the plan with the team. The former option is highly advised as it is often ideal to have an outside party available for the team to work with. This will keep the team from falling back to any bad patterns or habits they might have formed.
If participating in the change process, you can expect for a good consultant to involve the whole team in working towards change so everyone is actively "doing" and not just being "talked at" with new changes and a new plan of action. Getting the team involvement in this early stage is ideal for overall buy-in and is called participative change management.
This is a good overview of what the purpose of a management consultant could be and what you can expect as an individual in an organization who hires a management consultant. It is always important to remember that the consultant has the best intentions for the team and organization in mind so being a participant and positive force for change looks very good for functional members within an organization.