At the end of 2019, we discussed a few red flags to watch out for when selecting an outside consultant. While these strategies can help avoid a bad relationship before it begins, there’s always a chance a contractor can start to slip after they’ve been brought onboard.
We’ll want to be sure to measure them against our expectations throughout the lifespan of the relationship to make sure they live up to their commitments.

Ongoing Evaluation

As things move forward, here are a few items to check to make sure things stay on track.

Work Quality

  • Is work really getting done? Despite seeming obvious, this common red flag that gets ignored too often. Why? Because it is easier to excuse poor performance than it is to admit we brought on bad talent. Be honest: Does the consultant come to the table with excuses or results? Do ‘extenuating circumstances” get between them and their goals too often? Looking at clocked hours, does the output match?
  • Are they driving action? Do you get the impression your consultant is just punching a clock for billable hours? Do they excel at making suggestions for other team members to follow-up on? If any of these things are happening, then they aren’t acting as the agents of change that you need.
  • Have they adapted to your environment? Your team’s SOP may have needed work, hence bringing a consultant onboard. However, if you find SOP shifting just to cater to a consultant’s tastes instead of actual improvements, then productivity could be taking a step backwards? Check your KPIs to see if they’re improving or lagging after implementing a consultant’s SOPs, tools, and technologies.

Team Relationship Building

  • Do they have a bad attitude? The personality traits that lend themselves to being an independent, action-oriented, success-focused consultant can often be aggravating for other team members. Did you hire a jerk? Is your team’s environment suffering as a result?
  • Are they constantly looking for that next SOW? How much time does your consultant spend focused on doing a good job versus schmoozing to land their next SOW?  Good work speaks for itself. If a consultant can’t cut it, they may shift to focusing on selling empty promises to stay afloat.
  • Are they a “Yes” or “No” Person? Consultants shouldn’t shrug off team member opinions or solutions, and neither should they simply stick to saying yes to everything the team offers up. A good consultant needs to recognize the value of the team they were brought into while being independent enough to lead down a different path when the situation calls for it.

Having a Gut Check Discussion

On one hand, you can always find a new consultant if yours isn’t working out – but do you really want to burn more time and energy bringing in a replacement resource? Some relationships are simply too far gone to repair, but before you throw in the towel, make sure to have a gut check discussion with your contractor.
If they’re lagging, be open and upfront that the relationship is in jeopardy – review the results of these questions with them and work together to get back on track.

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Brian Seipel

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