The right fit can make or break your change initiative
If you’ve been thinking that Change Management Consultants are flakes who spend all their time talking about ‘feelings’ and not enough time demonstrating a commitment to the bottom line, you’re not alone. But the truth is that the right change management expertise can make all the difference to a change initiative: They can help improve ROI, speed the pace of change, help you retain your top performers, and prevent the project from going off-track.
Here’s what you need to consider in order choose the right consultant for your change initiative:
Experience: What changes have they implemented as part of an organization? What changes have they experienced as an employee? As a manager? As a leader? Someone who has experienced change from a variety of perspectives is going to bring more understanding to your initiative.
Their role in the changes: Change consultants can have experience in the technical, logistical or people components of change. Be sure you know what component(s) you need, and look for someone with the right experience.
Buzzwords vs results: The best consultants are good at straightforward communications and outlining clear expectations. If you’re hearing a lot of terms like ‘change agent’ and ‘transformation catalyst’, call someone else. The same goes for talk about models or methodologies. I see a lot of requests for change consultants that work with one specific methodology. That might seem like the right approach but when you have a hammer, all problems look like a nail. An effective change management consultant will be familiar with many different models and methodologies so they can choose the best one (or better yet, combination) for your unique situation.
Approach: Effective change management consultants ask good business questions and are looking to understand how all the pieces fit together before outlining a plan. If they say they can just jump in and start delivering results, no questions asked, they may not have the skills you need. To this point, make sure that you are helping your potential consultant understand all aspects of the change, not just the “HR” parts. A good change management consultant will want to understand the business in addition to the people. Both are essential for change success.
Who will actually be doing the work? A senior consultant may be the one creating and overseeing the change plan, but delegating the actual work to specialists or juniors. That’s fine – but make sure you know who’s on the team and how they’ll be working together.
How many people will the consultant be bringing in? An outside consultant may be able to bring clear vision and specialists to the table, but in order for a change to be successful, your internal employees should be fully engaged in the process. Leaving change entirely to external consultants can mean the change leaves when they do.
Pragmatism: Good change management isn’t about holding hands and singing folk songs with employees – it’s about making smart business changes that ultimately lead to a better bottom line. A successful change management consultant is one who knows that managing the people piece will drive business success. [the individual needs to demonstrate that they understand the business and can balance the people side of things. If they can only talk about the people side it will not help in the long run.]
What is their success rate? Don’t be afraid to ask. If they can’t tell you it’s higher than 98%, don’t hire them. It’s that simple.
Ask about their biggest failure – and how they turned it around. Anyone who tells you they haven’t had a failure is lying – and anyone who can’t tell you how they fixed a big failure isn’t ready to lead your change initiative.
Does their process include a ‘Lessons Learned’ component? It should. Successful change management generates valuable knowledge and insight about the organization, and it’s important that this knowledge is articulated, documented, and transferred to the organization. Otherwise all that knowledge just walks out the door along with the consultant at the end of the project.