It’s your company. You know how you want it to operate. You have a vision and a goal, supported by a management style that you have built over decades. And it has served you well—until lately. You’ve noticed some weak areas in your company’s operations, and it appears that the performance of your team just isn’t up to your standards. Your solution? You’re going to fix the problem yourself, tell people how you want the business to run and why they should do it your way. Not the best idea you may have had for three simple reasons:
- You may know a lot about the goods or services your company provides, but that doesn’t necessarily make you an expert in people management.
- You may be too close to the problem to be able to view it objectively, or just as critically, be unwilling make needed changes from the top down to improve productivity.
- Your people may have a better understanding of where challenges are but don’t feel comfortable sharing it with management.
The fact is, making major changes in an operation is not a DIY undertaking. A more effective approach is to use an outside or external consultant—someone trained to identify areas of conflict that are impeding communication as well as untapped strengths that, once identified and utilized, would be a catalyst for growth and productivity. Most importantly, the consultant can establish a “zone of trust” where team members can provide honest input without fear of retribution.
A Zone of Trust
Picture this: The boss opens a company-wide meeting asking for ways management can improve operation only to be greeted by deafening silence. Or maybe the HR department sends out a memo to employees requesting their feedback on company policies, only to have zero response. Why won’t anyone talk? Because no one has created an environment built on trust, where participants feel comfortable expressing their concerns and problems. The fear is that any perceived negative feedback, even if it is expressed to immediate supervisors, will make its way up to the head office, leading to a potentially unpleasant response. On the other hand, an outside consultant begins the process by establishing a zone of trust, where employees can express their concerns openly and honestly without worrying about the fallout. Creating this air of openness will lead to a frank and open discussion of perceived problem areas and potential solutions. This allows the consultant to combine all the input to gain a more comprehensive view of overall dynamics.
No Ego Issue
Another advantage of bringing in an outsider is that it eliminates the ego issue. Just like most parents object to having their parenting
skills questioned, most owners and management level people don’t like to have their decisions challenged. They also find it difficult to see the situation from any viewpoint other than their own, and almost impossible to identify where their decisions, reactions and behaviors might be contributing factors. But the outside expert brings an objective perspective to the situation, able to view it from both a 10,000-foot perspective as well as up right up close. This allows him to identify strengths and weaknesses in the overall operation and the individuals involved. The consultant isn’t dealing with an ego issue or control problem, and has no personal stake other than to help participants develop their potential, thereby creating a better functioning team.
An Organized Process
The third benefit lies in the consultant’s expertise, which includes the ability to help management and team members evaluate their roles in both creating the problem and identifying possible solutions, ultimately establishing a teamwork approach. This isn’t a scattershot approach to the situation, but rather an organized exploration of the situation. The Harvard Business Review article,
“Consulting Is More Than Giving Advice,” identifies the key stages, from diagnosing the problem and making recommendations based on the diagnosis to implementing the solutions and teaching the team how to apply what they have learned to resolve future issues. The consultant can also work with management members on down to strengthen their communication skills so needed information is shared in a way that is productive, rather than punitive. Leadership skills involve more than ordering employees to “do what I’m telling you to do.” It requires the willingness to admit that, even though you are the one at the top, you may not always be the most knowledgeable about specific areas, and the confidence in your people to present workable solutions that can and should be considered. Bringing in an external consultant can be an eye-opening experience for all involved. The objective insights and recommendations the consultant provides will strengthen your company’s operations and create a stronger sense of team engagement.
Discover what Transformation Point can do for you and your company. Take advantage of a unique opportunity to have a one-hour telephone consultation with Transformation Point founder and CEO Kevin L. King, when he’ll help you better define your challenges and provide ideas on how to address them. Call 888-202-3411 today or schedule a consultation today!