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Thinking hiring a consultant during a crisis is risky? In this article, Salo’s Lindsay Schneider busts four common myths about hiring consultants when a crisis strikes.
Crises are nothing new for career consultants. After all, organizations often bring in consultants when they have big, hairy, complicated problems to solve and little time to solve them. Challenging situations aren’t anomalies for consultants—diving into challenging work is pretty much the consultant’s whole job description.
Myths about hiring consultants during a crisis
If there’s a crisis in your organization, a consultant might be the secret weapon you need. However, there are common assumptions that might hold you back. Let’s take a minute to address common concerns about hiring consultants during a crisis. (For extra effect, we’ll bust each myth with real examples of Salo consultants helping to tackle the uber-crisis: Coronavirus.)
It’ll be too hard/time-consuming to onboard a consultant
Consultants are experts in getting up-to-speed fast. Every new consulting gig requires jumping into unfamiliar territory and hitting the ground running.
Example: In a recent Salo engagement, an organization’s senior accountant left abruptly right before stay-at-home orders began. There was no documentation and the organization’s other employees had minimal insights into the work. With two days’ notice, our consultant was able to dive into the role and figure out the situation quickly—all while working at home. The accounting function was back up and running in a matter of days. He’s now documenting the process and responsibilities so a new permanent senior accountant can start strong – and perhaps even virtually.
We can’t afford a consultant right now
There are consulting engagements for all kinds of budgets. Consulting engagements can be tailored to an organization’s needs and budget.
Example: We currently have a consultant that’s working at several different organizations for a few hours a week. Like many of our consultants, she has several areas of expertise, and she enjoys working on diverse projects. Her client organizations like to get her expertise in a smaller engagement. We also have consultants that are working on short-term engagements (e.g., a few weeks). And, of course, sometimes the cost of paying an expert advisor can be far cheaper (not to mention faster and less stressful) than letting your team tackle a new-to-them problem on their own.
Consultants only do the sexy projects
Consultants can fill day-to-day roles, too. It’s just fine if an organization prefers to have internal resources tackle the hard stuff.
Example: For example, when a client’s HR staff got pulled into coronavirus emergency response work, they hired Salo consultants to take care of all the routine HR tasks that still needed to be done. This is allowing the internal team to focus exclusively on the crisis at hand. Similarly, on the accounting/finance side sometimes it makes sense for internal team members to tackle a system implementation because they will be the system’s primary users, they’re most familiar with the general ledger, etc. In that case, consultants can cover the day-to-day tasks.
Consultants won’t go “above and beyond” for an organization like an employee
Consultants are driven to help clients succeed (not to mention that consultants want repeat clients, so they have an extra incentive to go the extra mile). Sometimes that means doing work they never expected when they were hired.
Example: A few months ago, one of our finance consultants was hired to fill a gap until a new hire arrived. Then coronavirus hit. The organization (a manufacturer) wasn’t prepared for remote work-much less conducting virtual job interviews or remote training. So, the consultant helped the organization get familiar with virtual meeting tools and developed standard operating procedures for virtual interactions. She topped off her engagement by training the incoming controller 100% virtually.