So many to choose from and all claim they are experts and professionals. They are value added, innovative, results-focused and business partners. Not an uncommon thing to hear as more and more businesses see the need to utilize outside experts, Consultants or Coaches will help improve an organization’s performance, productivity and ultimately profitability.
Let us be honest, there are a lot of people out there that call themselves Consultants and Coaches. Some actually are. Many others are seeking part-time work between jobs or believe that their most recent certificate of training or college degree actually qualifies them to be one. In my over 30 years of executive management experience, I have seen many individuals claim to be consultants or coaches in areas they have no real hands on experience in or even legitimate expertise gained through the workplace. You need to know how to chose the right one for you.
So what do you do to separate the wheat from the chaff? When considering a Consultant you should ask yourself the following questions;
How experienced are they?
Have they worked in the area they are consulting in?
What did they do?
What are their academic credentials; How did they learn what they know?
Undergraduate, Graduate, Doctorate
Seminars, workshops, certificate programs
What certifications do they hold?
Are these single seminar certifications or must they be renewed by examination or continuing professional education?
Where do those certifications come from?
How relevant is that Certification to your need?
Can they promise results or do they just deliver some kind of training?
How do they engage with you after the project?
What kind of results can they provide and will they commit to those?
Are they simply someone who will take on a project for you or can they improve your processes with a bottom line impact?
Of course, the answers to those questions will also depend upon the type of consultant you are seeking. If, for example, you are looking for a Business Growth Consultant, you should seek someone who has:
Significant hands on experience in the areas of expertise you need, preferably with Business Ownership experience as well.
A Baccalaureate or higher degree, or in the absence of those, significantly more experience than those in the first criteria.
Evidence of a value added results focused outcome that goes beyond simply completing a project. Have they contributed to the organizations financial health and can they articulate that in dollars and cents.
Do they truly understand business, can they demonstrate that?
Their products and services are customized to their customers and not simply a one size fits all product they purchased from a third party.
A record, as a Consultant, of maintaining contact with customers to ensure that the product or services they have delivered are achieving the desired result and if not that they have worked with the client to correct that.
In short, you want an expert. You want professionals within the functional area that you are seeking assistance in. You wouldn’t hire a plumber to diagnose a vascular health problem so why would you hire someone without the proven expertise you seek?
The obvious answer is you would not.
This is also true when Business Owners hire Coaches. Some Coaches are very good at what they do. Some woke up one morning and decided they were a Coach. One of the most challenging areas with some Coaches is how is success measured. If all the Coach has is words to the effect that you will feel better about yourself or your business and they cannot demonstrate that through a systematic measurement of the financial and production health of your business, you should look for someone else.
When Hiring a Business Coach you want to be certain you know the answers to the following:
What experience do they have at Business growth and development?
How do they define and measure success?
What processes within your business do the address and how?
What type of approach or system do they use?
Is their outcome emotional or can they prove a return on your investment in monetary terms (increased profit, reduction in waste, improved sales, etc)?
Does the Coach simply hold you accountable or do they give you hard measurable results?
They are your dollars and the results you get are both the ones you demand and pay for. Ensuring that you have someone with both the functional expertise and business focus to help you grow your business is crucial. Otherwise, you can just hire anyone who claims to be a Consultant or a Coach.