The Pros and Cons of Hiring an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant

What are the benefits to hiring an organizational effectiveness consultant?

In this article, we’ll look explore this topic in detail, including:

  • When to hire – and when not to hire – an organizational effectiveness consultant
  • What effectiveness consultants do
  • What to look for in consultants
  • Alternatives to hiring a consultant

An organizational effectiveness consultant can certainly benefit an organization … but consultants may not always be the best solution to your business problem.

Should You Hire an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant?

To begin, it pays to evaluate the underlying problems driving you to consider hiring a consultant.

For instance, consider:

  • The business problem and your objectives. Clearly articulate and document the business problem that needs solved. 
  • Projected budget, costs, and benefits. From the start, develop a budget, project potential costs, and clarify the benefits you hope to receive.
  • The advantages of hiring a consultant versus alternative solutions. Every solution to a business problem comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Using the information covered below, weigh the benefits of hiring a consultant against the benefits of other solutions.

There is, of course, no single correct answer. 

Instead, each organization should evaluate its own circumstances to determine when – or whether – a consultant is right for their situation.

What to Look for in an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant

An organizational effectiveness consultant can come in many forms. 

Typically, organizational consultants – or consultancies – will specialize in certain areas, such as change management, digital transformation, and so forth.

Here are a few areas to evaluate when selecting organizational effectiveness consultants:

  • Specialty. Does their specialty match your specific needs? Naturally, candidates should specifically offer services that target your organization’s problems.
  • Methods and approaches. What method or framework do they use? How sophisticated is it? What is that approach based on? Some approaches are grounded in decades of academic theory, while others are proprietary and original. The important question is whether the consultant’s values, principles, and approach are a “good fit” with your own organization’s operational style.
  • Track record. Finally, what is the consultant’s history and track record? Research past clients, the company’s history, specific team members, and other details to determine credibility, trustworthiness, and success rates.

Because finding the appropriate consultant is so crucial, covering these steps is crucial.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Consultant

What are the benefits and drawbacks to hiring an outside consultant to improve organizational performance?

Some benefits of hiring a consultant include:

  • Specialized knowledge and expertise. As mentioned, consultants are often experts in a specific industry or market. Hiring an expert in a certain SaaS platform, for example, can offer instant access to a high level of expertise – not to mention sophisticated, well-developed business solutions.
  • Affordability. For some companies or projects, budget can be a concern. If a business is undergoing a large-scale digital adoption project that impacts multiple business functions, then consultancy fees can be quite high. 
  • Fresh ideas and approaches. Another benefit of hiring consultants is new perspectives and fresh ideas. Companies can often become bubbles and echo chambers – consultants can offer new perspectives and ideas that help businesses innovate and revitalize their mindsets.
  • A track record and experience. Experienced consultants often bring significant expertise to the table. While in-house professionals may be able to perform the same job, outside experts can bring in higher levels of knowledge, delivering better results and more sophisticated solutions.

These are just a few of the ways that an outside consultant can improve organizational effectiveness.

In many cases, outside consultants are the best – or even the only – way to gain access to high-level expertise and knowledge.

However, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider, such as:

  • A lack of knowledge about your business. Many consultants specialize in a specific industry or area, as mentioned above. However, if the consultants aren’t specialists in your industry, they will likely lack knowledge about your business, products, audience, or market. 
  • Quality problems. As mentioned above, it is important to check the track record of every consultant you hire. Testimonials and case studies can offer insights into a consultant’s track record, demonstrating how they approach projects and solve problems. 
  • Communication issues. Since consultants don’t work in your business, they can easily be left out of important communication loops. To prevent communication problems, it is important to ensure that consultants are included in all relevant communication circles.
  • Misaligned values, cultures, or visions. If the consultant’s business philosophy differs from your organization’s culture, then they may propose misaligned solutions. Proposing lean business process to a business that dislikes lean, for instance, would be a waste of everyone’s time and resources.

These are a few potential drawbacks that can come from hiring the wrong consultant.

However, if you carefully evaluate candidates beforehand, then consultants can add significant value across the entire business.

Alternatives to Hiring Consultants

Hiring an organizational effectiveness consultant is certainly not the only way to improve business performance.

There are other solutions, depending on the nature of the problem.

For instance:

  • Project management inefficiencies could be solved by adopting new project management software
  • Customer complaints could be solved through a communications campaign, surveys, and staff retraining
  • Employee performance problems could be solved through digital adoption platforms and renewed employee training efforts

Naturally, the costs and benefits of every solution should be carefully weighed before making a decision.

In many cases, the right solution will be a combination of different approaches – such as consultants, in-house change management, digital software adoption, and so forth.

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.