Friday, April 29, 2016

The Conundrum of Consultants

So today we had a consultant on-site.

We get consultants from time to time.  This one seemed to be a good one:  knew the material, had plenty of experience, spoke the language, had a plan.

The individual in question also went through our current program:  strengths, weaknesses, changes we will need to make.  And therein lies the issue.

After the suggestions, the "you will need to do this", the "this is what my experience indicates", there were nods around the room, agreement.  Senior Management present of course indicated that this was the course that we would need to take, immediately and with all effort.

The frustrating part, of course, is that a great deal of this has been previously suggested.  And ignored.

Suggested by internal employees of course. By us, those charged with trying implement such things a a basis.

What is it about organizations that completely value the same advice if it comes from an external person than an internal person?  Presented with the same facts, the same rationalizations, the same justifications, the one at the task day in and day out is ignored and put down, while outsider - for whom one is paying a considerably larger sum of money - is taken as almost god-like in their advice.

It eludes me, this willingness to pay more for advice and guidance that already exists.  Are companies so lacking in trust in their employees that they must validate those opinions outside?  Or is that employees are only expected to be able to X, while consultants do Y?

I am not completely sure.  But I am reminded of two things:

1)  To treat employees as if their experience is irrelevant and useless is to suggest to them they have no value where they are.

2)  To bring in consultants and see what they do and how they are treated is to suggest to employees that there may be other options.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that we only value what we pay for. We have no value for what is "free". Blessings, Julia

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I think you are right Julia, although I fail to understand how paying someone for their experience and expertise makes it less "free" than paying someone from the outside. Problem is, we only miss things when they are gone...

Thanks for stopping by!

PeteForester1 said...

I've been wrestling with these same thoughts, and have said much the same about where I work to my wife and coworkers. I've come to the conclusion that having 37 years of experience in what I do, and ten years with the company don't mean anything. Having five years of experience, two years with the company, and a DEGREE, well... that changes everything...

I've seen the wheel reinvented so many times I could be a wheelright. Of course, if point out that the wheel is being reinvented... well... I'm branded "complainer," and "not a team player..."

I guess that's why an artist's work isn't valuable until the artist is dead...

kymber said...

TB - i think what i enjoy (sarcasm) more is when they bring in outside expert research people and spend a year interviewing every single employee and then pass on a report to the head-honchos...who then share it with the employees. and the employees are very happy that their suggestions have been heard and reported - woohoo.

but then they hire CONSULTANTS to come in for a year who then produce almost the exact same report! arghghghghghg!

sending love! your friend,
kymber

Act II said...

I've been on the "consultant" end of education, when an accreditation team comes into a school situation in order to evaluate the school for its re-accreditation. I've learned (not that I'd thought otherwise going in) exactly what you're describing: the smartest thing I can usually do (barring some obvious cultural issue) is to listen to what the teachers and staff are seeing, and put that into my recommendations. My job is to help the "company", and who's going to know how to do that best? The ones whose livelihoods are dependent on that "company" succeeding.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

It is strange to me Pete. I do no understand applying the knowledge in house to fix issues or improve issues - or, if it is a manner of training, to train in house employees so that they can maintain and further develop the solutions.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Wow. That is a level I have never personally reached before. I do, however, enjoy the surveys that come out to find out how delightful the workplace is - and then when the results are received, the whole question of the survey quietly goes away....

Much love friend! - TB

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

And that is the odd part. Of course many consultants are hired for specialized pieces of knowledge; I get that. What confuses me is when they go out and get someone when they have the knowledge in-house. You are quite right, of course: most people do not want their company to intentionally fail and have a vested interest in making sure that it succeeds. Why anyone would not start there first is truly beyond me.