More and more organizations are asking me to help them convert their internal resources—consultants, trainers, facilitators, HR professionals change agents—into “real” consultants. That is, they want to be able to compete with people like me on the outside within their company.
More power to them. I’m happy to help.
The keys to effective internal consulting include the following:
• Being seen as a peer of the line buyer. You can’t be “the HR guy,” or the “trainer.” You have to be able to talk business issues and relate on a peer level. (That means you begin by asking what the department’s strategy is, and not whether your contact is an INTJ.)
• Being proactive. You can’t sit by the phone like the mythical Maytag repair people. You must actively develop and present ideas which the line people may not have asked for or thought about, but which can demonstrably improve their operation.
• Forsaking problem solving for innovation. Anyone can resolve a customer problem, but not many people can anticipate future customer need. Don’t pride yourself on “correcting” difficulties. Instead, focus on creating new and higher standards of performance.
• Blowing your own horn. You must market internally. Let people know of your capabilities. Use internal references to introduce you to new “buyers” and new areas. If you don’t blow your own horn, there is no music.
• Becoming a transcendent authority. To what degree are you respected in the profession? Do you speak at conferences, publish, mentor, lead retreats? Don’t be content knowing your field or knowing your organization. External consultants have the great advantage of understanding a variety of organizations and experience world-class techniques. You must reach out to replicate that.
The future will have great rewards for true agents of change, whether internal or external. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of work for us all.
© Alan Weiss 2002 All rights reserved.
Alan Weiss, Ph.D., CMC is the author of 20 books, including the seminal Million Dollar Consulting (McGraw-Hill, third edition: 2002) and his newest, Organization Consulting (John Wiley & Sons: December 2002) which deals with consulting for internal change agents. You can reach him at Alan@summitconsulting.com. Visit his web site, http://www.summitconsulting.com to subscribe to his free monthly newsletter, Balancing Act: Blending Life, Work, and Relationships.
Bond. James Bond. Agent of Change
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