Hiring a Change Management Expert vs. Training In-House

When faced with organizational change, a common question faced is whether it is better to hire a change management expert or to train existing staff.

Both options are viable, but each has its pros and cons.

Below, we’ll explore why change management is so crucial in the modern economy, then evaluate the advantages of outsourcing versus insourcing.

Why Change Management Is So Important In Today’s Changing World

More and more, business leaders are beginning to understand the value of organizational change management.

Change management, the discipline devoted to coordinating and implementing organizational change initiatives, can make an enormous difference in the outcomes of those efforts.

Among other things, effective management can:

  • Boost the chances of an initiative’s success
  • Lower costs and shorten project timelines
  • Reduce the potential for errors and costly mistakes
  • Increase the overall ROI of a project
  • Raise employee productivity
  • Decrease employee resistance

Reasons such as these compel many companies to invest in formal change management, though that investment can come in several different forms.

One of the most common is to hire a change management expert or consultant.

The Advantages of Hiring a Change Management Expert

A change management consultant provides services as an outside contractor, lending their experience on an as-needed basis.

This approach is useful for several reasons:

  • Enterprises can acquire expertise without having to hire a change manager or develop an enterprise change management unit
  • Consultants may have more change management experience and skills than in-house change managers
  • Hiring a consultant can allow companies to launch change initiatives more quickly and more safely than if they attempted the projects alone
  • Consultants can also assist or train existing staff through change programs or through the building of an enterprise change function

It is also useful to note that hiring an expert and training in-house staff can be conducted simultaneously – they are not mutually exclusive.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to do both at the same time.

The Benefits of Training In-House Managers

There are several reasons to consider training internal employees on change management principles and best practices.

For instance:

  • Over the long term, in-house change management training can remove the need for hiring outside experts
  • A company with a high level of change management maturity will be more capable of implementing change programs
  • Training employees on change management helps to foster a flexible, change-ready culture
  • In-house employees are more familiar with the organization and the industry, which often makes it easier to implement any business initiative, including change projects

In today’s climate, continuous organizational change has become the norm – after all, we are in the midst of a technology-driven revolution. And, as of this writing, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, which is accelerating digital transformation and change across every corner of the globe.

Ultimately, as organizations scale, in-house training will outperform consultants, so every company should consider investing in change management training.

That being said, consultants and outside experts do have their place, and it can be useful to involve them at any time, as mentioned above.

Considerations and Drawbacks

We have seen the advantages to both outsourced and in-house change management expertise, but each option also has its own downsides.

For instance, here are a few drawbacks to hiring an outside expert:

  • Consultants are temporary and they must be re-hired to manage any subsequent projects
  • Outside experts are less familiar with a company and culture, which can make communication more difficult and negatively impact the outcomes of a project
  • Depending on where the consultants are sourced from, costs can add up and even become more expensive than hiring in-house change managers

Also, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when providing change management training to existing workers:

  • Training and development plans for employees does not create expertise or experience overnight, so the results of early projects may not meet expectations
  • Alone, training is often not enough to help companies build a mature change management function
  • Since those choosing the training lack experience in change management, it can be difficult to choose the right methodology or approach to change management

Since both consulting and in-house training have their pros and cons, it is best to work backwards from one’s own needs.

An organization that wants to become more change ready, for example, would do well to invest more heavily in change management training. On the other hand, a company that needs immediate access to change expertise – or who wants advice on how to build a change management function – would do well to invest in outside consultants.

Final Thoughts

Companies that have low levels of change management maturity will likely need to invest in both, at least until they have acquired enough in-house expertise to independently implement change.

Another option is to hire experienced change managers, either instead of or in addition to providing in-house training.

Hiring an experienced change manager, after all, can provide immediate and long-term access to a qualified expert. That experienced change manager, in turn, can help with many of the core activities needed to successfully implement change, build an enterprise change management function, and more.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.