It happens to Anyone…Any Time… Anywhere… For any Reason
Written by Robert D. Sollars
Most people in business, including consultants, will tell you that there are times when you need an outside objective assessment of…an issue, from training, sales, IT technical support, business strategies, and a myriad of other issues.
Unfortunately, security is one of those things that you never think about hiring a consultant for…until it’s too late. Usually, it takes an incident of some kind, break-in, violence, fraud, or computer hacking, which would turn out badly, to even think about contacting one. In some cases, it may just be too late to have a solution or save you from bankruptcy…or death due to workplace violence.
“It’s a waste of money to call a consultant, especially the security of all things before we need one!” I have heard this nearly word-for-word from more than a few business owners & managers in my career. But hiring a consultant can save your proverbial bacon in more ways than one, by giving you the expert advice you need before an incident or event occurs, which undoubtedly will cost you many more financial resources, much more than simply hiring one, to remedy and find a solution for.
So, if you’re hesitant to contact one or have the foresight to do it for advice before an incident, what do you look for? Sometimes that is not always an easy question to answer, but here are a few things to consider, and this is by no means an all-inclusive list.
This should be the major aspect you look at before hiring one. Are they objective in their approach or are they tainted by companies they’ve worked for or the dogma of whatever industry you’re in?
A consultant that you know is objective, is the one that will walk away from you and your issue if they don’t feel they can adequately fulfill the contract. They’ll tell you upfront and in a direct succinct manner that your idea stinks and you need to do what they say…without being arrogant about it. In other words, explain why what you want isn’t acceptable.
Prejudices, discriminatory behavior, or anything along those lines can’t and shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone, much less a consultant trying to solve your problem.
- Listening Skills
For whatever job and skillset you hire them for, the consultant needs to be able to listen to you and consequently break down your problem (s) in a few choice sentences. If they can’t do that then you may not have the right person for your company.
Additionally, the consultant should be able to break through the clutter and discover the actual issue in what you are asking them to accomplish. This may be uncomfortable for you & your staff to hear, but…the consultant is the expert to break through the clutter and discover the real bottom-line issue at fault.
While this is related to listening, it is a separate component of its own. The consultant needs to be able to communicate with you on a level of knowledge, intelligence, and practical level with ideas and feedback. If they can’t communicate what they think to you, then they may not be able to assist you. It doesn’t matter if they stutter, lisp, or have another speech impediment. If they tell you quickly and efficiently what they are doing and why they are doing it…
They must have the expertise to be able to handle your issues, no matter what they are claiming and throwing out to everyone. If they tell you that they can’t do the job because they don’t know how… that is the sign of an honest and reliable consultant. If they can hire the right help or point you in the direction to go.
Regular or advanced degrees, Certifications, years in the field, and presentations given are no indication that they can work well for you & your situation. While all those things are important, it’s just as important to have someone you can work with efficiently & effectively both in the office and in the field.
- Personal Discussion
How long are they going to talk to you on the first meeting? This can be an indication of whether you want them or not. If they take up the time of your initial meeting with meaningless minutia, then probably not. Likewise, if they start talking about sheep and goats, a South African friend does this to engage the audience and client, and then keeps on then, well…
Are they asking pertinent and probing questions? Do they get the problem? Are they taking notes and thinking of ways to solve the issue while the meeting is going on? Ask yourself, and them, these questions in the first meeting.
It is unfortunate, but many times the size of a consultant’s report is the basis on whether they did a good job or not. The size of the report means absolutely nothing, except they spent an inordinate amount of time writing it for one purpose – to pump up your response as well their payment and reputation.
I have written reports like I write everything I do. Succinct, concise, & blunt. No verbose or flowery language or security jargon. And if I did use jargon, I defined it in the report. I made the report simple, sweet, and easily understandable to anyone who would read it.
Did it offend some people who read such a simplistic report? Yes, but in the end, they appreciated how easy it was to read and implement. One client had my report of 10 pages or so. They hired another consultant who wrote the same exact ideas I did but in much more verbose language…their report was 90 pages long. The major difference was my company did it for free and they paid $5,000 for the consultant’s report.
Are they truly independent or are they trying to sell you a product that they represent and get a commission on? There are consultants out there who will try hard to sell you products of one type or another. An independent consultant will only recommend general products and services specifically if asked.
In this instance, you must beware of those who try to sell from only one company. They say they are independent consultants, but they are trying to sell you on one product or service instead of giving you options.
This should not be the final consideration factor for hiring a consultant. Most consultants who are truly independent and not affiliated with services or products will usually be more than willing to work out a payment system. So, if their price seems a bit high and you want to hire them ASK. It never hurts to ask and if they won’t negotiate… then move on if you wish.
Hiring a consultant is a big step for any company to accomplish. They can cost thousands of dollars or as few as a couple of hundred, depending on the chore you’re hiring them for. Just don’t get blinded by the flashy reputation or promotional methods/items they present to you. Cut through the glitter and ensure that they are right for you and your company. Not all will be a good fit.
Would Sollars Violence Prevention Training & Consulting be a good fit for you & your company to help prevent violence within the organization or another issue? I dunno, but call me and we’ll discuss it this month or next year, your choice (another way I work to accommodate you & your company) to see if I will fit in with your organization.
I May be Blind, but my Vision is Crystal Clear
Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution
Copyright 2020 Robert D. Sollars