May 16, 2011

USING CONSULTANTS | Developing and Introducing Reward Management Processes

A responsible firm of management consultants will work in partnership with clients and stick to its brief, but it is natural for people with enquiring minds - and if consultants don't have those, they are in the wrong business - to identify new problems and to offer solutions to them. It is up to you to make sure that these really do add value and that no extra time is spent on the assignment unless you agree that it is worthwhile and unless the costs are also agreed.
You should expect consultants to complete their programme within their own estimate of time and costs. They could take longer if they come up against unforeseen snags and this is a joint problem if the delay has adverse effects on your business. But unless you have caused delays or misled the consultants in your brief, it is their responsibility to overcome the problems and to carry the burden of any extra costs they may have incurred.
Ensure that working arrangements with consultants are agreed at the outset. There should be regular progress or 'milestone' meetings when you can check how the assignment is going and deal with any problems as they arise. You should expect the consultants to discuss their preliminary findings with you and to present their interim conclusions and initial recommendations. It is in everyone's interest that alternative proposals should be evaluated jointly and that the feasibility of the implementation programme should be reviewed.
The final report and presentation (where these are involved) should include a convincing analysis of the situation and any problems that have been identified. Recommendations should be derived logically from this analysis and they should include an assessment of costs and benefits and a plan for implementation which sets out precisely who does what and when to achieve specific outcomes.
Working effectively with consultants is about building good working relationships, based on confidence and trust. Often this boils down to 'chemistry' - whether you believe and observe that the consultants who work with you are in sympathy with your organization and understanding what change it is able to achieve.
The best consultants rapidly build partnerships with their clients so that they can test the validity of what they are doing at several levels - from technical experts to the HR director, and as far as the chief executive and board when major change appears necessary. Their concern will be the overall 'health' of the organization and enabling it, and the people within it, to achieve their potential. In the reward area this will mean that technical excellence must be matched by an understanding of the business and HR strategy implications of proposed changes or improvements. Strong process consulting skills are almost always required. Reward consultants increasingly need to be able to:
  • have highly developed interviewing skills, especially at the diagnostic stage of strategy/policy development work;
  • be able to run effective focus groups with staff of all kinds/levels;
  • be able to present their diagnosis and recommendations to audiences of many kinds;
  • recognize when the presenting issue is more about, for example, performance management than reward, and have skills in that area too;
  • undertake thorough 'technology transfer' to ensure that any solutions they help develop are fully understood and owned by their clients;
  • work in partnership with internal or other consultant project teams working, for example, on major change initiatives.


Adina Mauch said...

Consultants provide information on different aspects of how to run a business efficiently. They can be a factor to the success and growth of a business with their invaluable insights. Owners certainly get an edge when they hire these knowledgeable and experienced professionals.

Adina Mauch

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