It’s easy to get lost in acronyms: MBA, CMC, ACC, CLC, PCC, CEC, HBBA, PMP. You’d be forgiven for feeling like consultants just threw a few letters together and created their own designations! When looking for a consultant for your organization, it is important to look beyond the letters and see what the individual can bring to the table. Credentials are important, in that they indicate education and dedication, but you must also balance your needs against the services and skills which the consultant can offer.
What Do You Need?
- Advice. If a consultant is to fill the role of advice-giver, then experience and knowledge should be at the top of the priority list. He/she must have that “bank” from which to draw in order to provide you with targeted, sound advice.
- Organization and analysis. Other times, it is not advice that is needed as much as it is a clarifying of your own ideas and thoughts. In this case, you need a process consultant, or someone who asks great questions and can pull knowledge from you. This person will then organize the collected information and give it back to you in a way that provides new insights. It is important that the consultant have strong skills in organizing, analyzing, and listening. Being curious is also a must!
- Coaching. With a coach, the single most important factor is fit. More critical than industry knowledge, than specific credentials, or even extensive experience, is the ability to forge relationships with coachees. If this coach is not a good fit for you, then you’ll never have success or see the results you want. The ability to listen and to have empathy is crucial; likeability is a definite plus as well!
Any consultant that you invite into your organization, regardless of the specific function, must be able to listen, communicate effectively, and be committed to your success. Credentials, experience, and education may get them in the door; but it will be their style, fit, and skill set that keeps them there.