I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 27 years with a top tier company, one of the leading FORTUNE 500 corporations. I owe my entire experience and consulting business today to that big School. We spent significant time and efforts to develop business and people to serve the mission confined in us. We worked with service providers, outside agencies and consultants, not anticipating that one day I will be on the other side of the fence attempting at selling services to those that are still in there. In this article, I speak for myself and on behalf of many consultants in my network, who I continuously discuss with to share our vision of things.
Medium-sized and small corporations optimize better the use of outside consultants than big corporations. They contract experienced consultants and capitalize on their experience, to develop their business and teams. Big-sized corporations always show the overconfidence in claiming that they have all the resources in house, and do not need additional external resources, whether training of teams, coaching of executives or developing the business! The question I ask myself is whether they really do. Well, I do not think so, since I come from within. If they are lucky enough to work in big corporations, this does not put them at an advantage in terms of intelligence or efficiency. They are not better than those professionals working in medium-sized or small corporations. It is a matter of competency and leadership.
The problem we see today, is that huge gap of management expertise and lack of courage in the decision making process. Besides the “exigency” for results by their senior management, many are focused on protecting their jobs and positions within the organization, losing the focus on developing themselves or their teams, or calling on consultants to support their missions. Fair enough, we have nothing against it. Nevertheless, I would like to give out a couple of pieces of advice so that they get prepared for the day when there will be no more salary at the end of the month, nor an annual bonus!
Below are some tips on how you can avoid surprises and get ready for the future.
1) Sit back away from your steering wheel, and start looking at what is happening around you
Forget that you will finish your career in your current company, those days are obsolete. Start reflecting on what you would do if tomorrow your company thanks you for your services. If you could only pick one direction you want to go there, and create a vision for it, what would you choose to do after you quit the company you are working in and decide to go on your own?
2) Start building your network, outside the company you are working in.
This is an easy one. You are lucky today with LinkedIn and the other social media but be intelligent in using it to promote your experience and your benefit; not just looking for another job. Just identify the attributes you possess and sell them out as if you have your own business (a matter of mindset).
3) Be open and receptive to consultants, and strengthen the link with them, they have something for you and your team
Consultants, trainers, try to do their job and sell their experience, so it is time to put arrogance on the side and stop the IKIA syndrome (I know it all). Give them the chance to prove what they can offer you, your business and your teams. Learn from them. Each competent consultant brings to the table years of experience and tries to relay that to others. You need to bridge the gap and benefit from their leadership skills. Do not be scared of them. They are not there to take your place, or show that they know better than you do. The formula is simple, they are there to help you do a better job and create a win-win situation. Of course, profits will follow.
4) Treat Consultants/service providers the way you would want to be treated, if you were in their shoes
USAA’s Golden Rule of Customer Service was “Treat the customer the way you would want to be treated if you were the customer.” B/Gen. Robert McDermott
So next time a service provider/consultant knocks on your door to sell you something, have the courtesy to receive him, listen to what he has, communicate with him, and answer his mail, since one day you would be on the other side of the fence and you do not want people to treat you differently!