In the pursuit of personal and professional growth, many have turned to consultants. What is a consultant?
A consultant is a noun. The simple definition – a person who provides expert advice professionally. So, let’s deconstruct that and dive further into the question, consultant – what is it?
A consultant is a person.
People need people. We all have our people but not all our people are helping us move towards our vision or live out our values. Synonymous with consultant is the mentor. As we noted previously in The Daily Positive, “Professional athletes have coaches and trainers even though they are at the very height of their professional skills, earning, and influence. Seeking the assistance of someone who can assist you to tug, carry, or chart your way through the murky waters of personal development can be a very positive and fulfilling addition to your professional adventure.” The perspective of another person can be a helpful thing. Forbes outlines that for a person to be successful as a consultant they need to be – different, strong and committed.
A consultant is a person who provides expert advice.
There is an odd paradox in most organizations where those in a position of leadership (PIAPOL), if they are willing to recognize that they need to improve they often overlook the resources within their own teams. I remember working with a church in California and hearing, a consultant is anyone that doesn’t work in your own organization. Expressing the sentiment that leaders and organizations will often turn outward before they turn inward for ideas. Scott Adams, the famed creator of the comic Dilbert puts it this way, “Consultants have credibility because they are not dumb enough to work at your company.” Expert advice should be born of expert experience rather than just expertly worded or presented information.
A consultant is a person who provides expert advice professionally.
To the cynic, a mentor is anyone who convinces another person that they should be paid for their opinions. Frequently consulting firms are hired based upon their branding, name recognition, rather than individualized skills or perspectives relevant to the organization that they are assisting. I recall early in my career working with a company in Oregon that had hired a consulting firm. A young man fresh out of school came and ran a weeks worth of interviews and metrics only to share with us a few generic recommendations. The bill did not match the attention, recommendations or follow through from the firm or the expert we were assigned. A consultant should be a person, but that should not be the only qualification. A business coach should have unique skills to bring to the table and should have expert advice earned through experience in helping organizations achieve their goals.
Like a skilled personal trainer who assists clients to reach their health goals, a business consultant will be skilled in drawing out the vision of the person they are working with, outlining a progressive plan to identify, build upon and reach their goals. It’s fun to watch someone like Gordon Ramsey who is an entertaining character but has crafted a persona of getting in, getting the best out of a team and then getting out, as he does in his newest show 24 Hours to Hell and Back. The consultant works with the client, coming alongside them and progressively working themselves out of a job. A good mentor, coach or consultant will be mindful to ensure there are developing the will, the skill and the chill of their client rather than making them dependent.
A quality consultant relationship will help you connect with resources, collaborate on ideas and conquer your goals.
IZ Ventures - more than business coaching and consulting, we help you connect, collaborate and conquer.
In the progression of building a team, by the time you reach the on-boarding phase you have done much of the initial heavy lifting. Where in years past candidates would seek out your organization looking for an opportunity for employment, the tables have now turned and most companies are actively engaging in proactive recruiting measures.
According to Fit Small Business, a 2017 study from Hire Well noted that, “52% of hiring managers claim that passive candidate recruitment has been less effective.” When your corporate and/or local listing are competing not only with a void in the labor market of available candidates but also the likes of professional recruiters on sites such as LinkedIn, your traditional methods of recruitment are going to lose their effectiveness. Employers that are looking to add talent to their organization are going to have to adopt the posture of hunters who understand their target and are adapting to the surroundings which would include a shortage of prey.
One quick tip is to expedite the screen process through simple means such as texting candidates as introduced in our article, Text For Hire.
If you have new employees to on-board into your organization than you have at least been able to chip away and some fragment of the quantity issue. You have increased your headcount, even if that is only one employee, which is something many companies are struggling to do. This deserves at least a golf clap. Now we want to begin the quality aspect of team additions, we want to create an entry experience that excites them to engage in the organization’s mission. In their book, Insuring Tomorrow, Tony Canas and Carly Burnham work to bridge many of the gaps between organizations and millennial employees. Tony and Carly have some practical tips for the first day and orientation throughout their book in addition to reversing a myth about millennials and criticism, “They’re absolutely comfortable with getting constructive feedback, but worry much more if they get no feedback, which is what is truly demotivating for a Millennial (p 58).”
When on-boarding new team members, those in positions of leadership should correct bad habits and details early. As the Hall of Fame UCLA basketball coach John Wooden states, “A coach is someone who can give correction without creating resentment.” If your hiring process has enabled you to attract candidates that connect with your organizational mission and values then this tone of coaching should already have been outlined. The right additions want to know how to do things the right way and how to excel in their roles within the team. Honest feedback is good feedback when progressing towards a goal. If there is push back on the feedback given, leaders will need to determine whether there was a miscommunication, an inability or an unwillingness as outlined in our article Conflict. Each response requires a different approach and will result in a different outcome.
All of our processes should be geared towards creating clarity as a lack of clarity is the prime catalyst for the corrosive effects of confusion and explosive tension of negative conflict. As we establish clarity in our vision, our values and our systems then we can develop consistency in our processes as well as accountability in our organization. Every phase is important and clear communication is essential from recruitment, to on-boarding and on through employee development. Be clear about your values and consistent in your approach and the process will create team members who are engaged and able to assist with building accountability throughout the organization.
// References // 1) Fit Small Business; 2) Insuring Tomorrow
I didn’t start making any real money until I got into remediation work, does that mean that my wife is a mold digger?
Would anyone other than a property restoration professional think this was funny? How did you get into water damage mitigation and microbial growth (the four letter word – mold) remediation or bio hazard (crime scene) clean up? I answered job posting in the local newspaper, when that was still a thing, for carpet cleaning at a time when the job market was thin and I wanted any job that would 1) get me away from my current employment and 2) allow me some flexibility to go to night school. In my initial interview I expressed that I was studying for a degree in criminal justice and the owner of the local franchise restoration company told me, “You would be great for our mold division.” Not having any idea what that was, I
replied, “Why yes. Yes I would.”
I have had many people over the years ask, what is a mold remediation division? It may be difficult for many to imagine but there was a time when insurance companies were paying on mold claims and there was plenty of work. Our organization had a good section of the local market, something that many franchises are no longer allowed to do, and our team was knocking out projects. In my professional pursuits doors were not opening in the path that I anticipated heading down while doors were opening in this new profession that only months before I did not know even existed. Sometimes we can be slow to recognize the clear turns that our journey is taking, but thankfully I was able to see a real opportunity to grow thanks to good leadership and support from my family.
I always tell new recruits – if you are honest, hard working and willing to learn, we can teach you to be productive in our industry (see article Hiring, 3 Character Keys). How do I know this? Because this is exactly what I brought to the table and was fortunate enough to have good leaders who were willing to teach me the skills necessary to succeed as well as provide opportunities for me to grow in the property restoration profession. Good leaders are a blessing to their organizations and their employees, if you are in leadership you have the privilege and the responsibility to keep those torches burning – whether you were provided with good examples by good leaders or if you had to carve your own path.
The reality of the superstar and their impact on teams whether in the business, professional sport or youth competition realms is a dynamic that all leaders need to understand. Celebrity and sports (as well as business) is a common modern narrative and it is arguable whether an individual can successfully navigate an elevated status of both their personal brand while maintaining their professional excellence over an extended period. The Beckham Experiment by Grant Wahl (2009) reads as a what-not-to-do when you’ve acquired an international mega star the likes of David Beckham. While David was not the first star that American soccer brought into the fold to attempt to elevate the environment but he certainly was the one whom many thought would be the bearer of the awakening of Major League Soccer (MLS). Most readers will recognize the Beckham name but likely share a lack of knowledge for his skill as a player nor the early history of professional soccer in the United States, to this Franklin Foer notes about this book, “David Beckham is more than a gifted player. He is a multinational conglomerate. And in Grant Wahl’s extraordinary telling, his sojourn in Los Angeles makes for a gripping tale about the business of sports and the growth pangs of American soccer.”
Team owners and management groups drool at the potential for positive financial as well as performance enhancements by bringing a celebrity figure to the team. There is a mythical formula in business, professional sports and even in youth competition that theorizes the missing component is that one player who will take us over the top – and of course that one player is always somewhere other than from within the current program so that one player is cyclical pursuit by struggling organizations. For the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Beckham move brought the spotlight for a time and yet the wide angle view of the behind the scenes story serves as a modern day Aesop’s Fable for any leadership team when working with star athletes or employees. If you were compiling a list of what you should not do, the list might include rushing an injury, mismanaging personalities, surrendering control and poor communication, which not too coincidentally are all plot points in the account of Beckham and the Galaxy.
Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We. – Phil Jackson
Of particular significance to the soccer community affecting team dynamics and the nature of the game was how the Galaxy management handled the captaincy of the club. With what appears to be total disregards for the process of the honor of donning the team captain’s arm band, rather than allow nature to take its course, one that likely would have arrived at the desired result, those in leadership positions attempted to force the issue. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, the team captain in soccer is a cherished position which recognizes a player who emulates the team values, sets a tone for the group and serves as a key intermediary between the coaches and players. Alexi Lalas, a former player and American national team star now serving as the general manager of the Galaxy noted, “In a professional sports environment you’d be surprised to know the gravity with which it’s [captains armband] seen and how important it ends up being.” Given David Beckham’s prestige as a player as well as a star, if David came to camp and played as expected it would have been a natural progression for him to be named captain voluntarily by the players as well as the standing captain, the young Landon Donovan who was an up and coming star in his own right.
Instead there was a table side meeting wherein the suits of the organization in all their wisdom decided they would prime the pump for Beckham’s reception within the LA Galaxy by awkwardly asking Landon to hand over the captain’s armband before the international celebrity had even set foot on the pitch. As the story goes, David either was not the leader that the Galaxy expected or perhaps so much of the star’s life was manufactured behind the scenes as it was being done in Los Angeles. As noted by Wahl, “It was one thing to take part in team events, but it was another thing to lead, to act like a captain, to rally the players during tough times and represent the greater good of the team—with the coach, with the front office—even when it might not have been in the personal interest of the captain himself.” There came to be a recognition that David was a good teammate who knew how to joke around as well as when to turn in on to be serious and/or competitive, yet when the team needed a boost or the captain to take the lead, Beckham did not take the prompts to intervene as a captain. So, Captain Galaxy, as some referred to David, was known to be a good teammate yet a bad captain. David was placed in a role that he had not earned and perhaps was not the right fit for which was one of the many examples of the bumbling of the Beckham Experiment. This process sold a lot of tickets for many clubs which were struggling for revenue within the MLS but ultimately did little to propel the Galaxy’s success internally nor externally.
Someone once told me the definition of Hell: The last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become. - Anonymous
Internally the Los Angeles team enjoyed the elevated status on road trips as they stayed in more elegant hotels than they had prior to David’s arrival and were received as rock stars whenever they went out on the town following games but were split as a locker room with regards to how the team dynamics developed with Beckham on the American pitch. The right players in the right roles executed within the clear vision of the team was absent. A team needs clarity from top to bottom in order to execute a plan with any chance of attaining success. Externally the Los Angeles organization made money on their experiment even though they could not put a consistent winning effort together in the three seasons that Beckham was associated with the team. The dawn of the Bruce Arena era demonstrated a glimpse of how to effectively hold a mega star accountable to the mission of the team even if their coaching group was unable to keep the elaborate experiment that they inherited on its tracks. Leadership, identity, clarity and accountability were all essential ingredients for success that came after the Beckham experiment was over. The responsibility for these failures should not be solely applied to David as the organization as a whole failed to plan clearly, execute consistently or create accountability within the system that would allow the Galaxy to optimize the opportunity.
Every team that hinges their turn around and success on the acquisition of a star player soon finds that most problems are not solved by a single individual. With The Beckham Experiment and the LA Galaxy there is so much more that rests in the column of what could have been than in the account of what transpired for the good of the team. For a team to be successful it needs to operate on clear vision, values and principles that are carried out from top to bottom. Superstars need a solid structure around them as much as any other player does, it is only with a strong organizational framework that all parties will have the greatest chance for success. Managers need to manage. Coaches need to coach. While stars get some fringe benefits as well as some special treatment, at the end of the day all players need to play regardless of how famous they are. When everyone understands their roles and focuses on being the best they can be in that role, even if that means sacrificing personal glory for team achievement, within this combined effort is the recipe for sustained success.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - More than coaching and consulting, we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer. #MTWSL
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