Not everyone cut out to be a consultant - consultant´s TOP 5 FEATURES.

publication date 09.11.2008

How to select the consultant

A consultant is very often “a front-line fighter“; although they can prepare for 90% of the negotiating situations, there is always the unexpected 10%. In this article you will find what the qualities of a good consultant should be like.

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A consultant is very often “a front-line fighter“; although they can prepare for 90% of the negotiating situations, there is always the unexpected 10%. On a consultancy day somebody suddenly gets up and says: “What you have said holds, but not in our production“, or “We have already tried that“, or “You know what, you can´t strike a deal with them, so no way we are going to make it.“

In situations such as this one, the first ability of a consultant will show up – finding a reaction that will make people interested to continue working on a viable way out not closing the whole day with “It won´t go.“

TOP 5 features

  • Empathy - ability to recognize well not only the situation of the company, but also of the people. If the consultant looks for a way of their further development, the way is always dependent on people, that is why it is crucial to look for ways fit for particular people.
  • Experience of many years - you cannot do without it in this branch. I even dare say it is detrimental to the branches such as consultancy, auditing and certification if this work is being done by school graduates, which is unfortunately the case in the Czech Republic. A consultant should build up something first: a more or less successful business. What clients need most is the experience gained by somebody else in their particular branch. People hire consultants to steer clear of future mistakes and not to learn about theories.
  • Good communicator - communication is a poweful tool how to get information, how to find different kinds of people. Without it, the consultant would rely only on data from information systems and on whatever people are willing to disclose. That, unfortunately, can lead to wrong conclusions and proposals.
  • Creativity - every company is in a way unique. Problems that look the same are resolved differently in different companies. Firms are staffed by different people following their original ways in life. It is exactly here where the consultant´s greatest reward is to be found: a chance to create new solutions, to find new „customized“ routes for the client to follow.
  • Being judicious - an experienced consultant is well aware that all they do must be judged as related to the complexity of the entire company (at best even to the market environment where the company operates). A change in one process will have effect on the other ones and, therefore, on a different part of the company. We should bear this on mind. Being judicious is a feature that separates the relevant from the marginal. The right direction is always a quality product, satisfied customers and employees, a clean environment and safety of us humans. And then it does not matter if this direction is being carried through by a production team, a firm or just a project team.

In short, a consultant should be a strong personality. If they are not, they cannot but routinely perform their work and are hardly going to persuade the client into introducing the necessary changes. 

A consultant´s ideal qualification is having good knowledge of more fields, management systems and marketing together with public relations, for instance, or modelling of sociotechnological systems and neurology or psychology, etc. A consultant with experience in two fields is more aware of the complexity of practical impacts of their proposals, while seaching for the solution to their client´s problems in more levels than one. Thus, the client gets a more complex solution and saves money they would have otherwise paid for another consultant or possibly a team from a consulting company.

What speaks best for a consultant´s qualities

  • testimonials from the third persons, and especially successful projects
  • larger spectrum of specializations in which a consultant practises
  • years of experience in the respective fields and position
  • length of cooperation with clients
  • knowledge of methods and laws being applied in the particular business branch

Consultancy and consultants on the Internet

Finding a quality consultant, even one the client´s team will be able to relate to, is not an easy task. Having just a professional with whom the client does not want to communicate, even though he or she can be of great help, is useless. Personal recommendation works best here as well as in many other branches. However, this method of finding a consultant dramatically constrains the search area. It is the Internet which is offering you the best possibilities, but you have to be cautious about testimonials and information on a particular consultant, as they may not always be relevant and reliable. It is, nevertheless, well possible to have the consultant document the above-specified points. A face-to-face meeting will then tell us whether the particular consultant is the one for us. 

These days the Internet provides us with greater possibilities than people are able to utilize. In the Czech Republic, catalogues listing consultants with their addresses are still more widespread than a consultancy portal of real quality. On the OwnWay.eu portal you can choose a consultant listed by the branch and the combination of branches, by the methods they use (can apply in practise), philosophy, international standards, regions and references. Descriptions of the individual methods, what they are used for, what results can the client achieve with them, that all is part of a good consultancy portal. A consultancy portal should open discussions of the needed subjects, inspire attendants to state their opinions, while offering a multiple-specialization consultancy clinic to the general public. Such service conditions are too hard to fulfil even for the National Register of Consultants whose establishment is now being discussed. The project, financed by the EU, has brought a one-time massive testing of consultants, yet no one has been paying attention to consultants now for a long time. Time and again, clients have to rely on references they manage to acquire themselves.

Jiří Střelec

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Jiří Střelec Jiří Střelec

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