Cultural fit is a hot new “buzz term” that typically refers to whether a potential hire will fit in with a company’s collective culture. It centers around the idea that a company’s employees tend to share similar core beliefs, values, and backgrounds. Within the consultant-employee relationship, however, cultural fit takes on a different meaning. In this scenario it’s more about the yin and yang of the relationship. It’s about how consultants and employees complement each other throughout a project.
What’s the Problem?
Consultants are brought in to solve a problem. They listen closely to their client’s concerns, but at the same time they look at underlying issues that may be playing a role. Sometimes employees can be too close to a problem to identify it accurately, or may not reveal relevant issues for fear of being blamed. Good consultants don’t jump in and take over, or waste time with finger pointing, but instead draw employees into the diagnostic process. They rally teams to work together to solve the problem. As a result, when corrective actions are recommended, they’re more readily accepted because everyone is already on the same page.
Open a Window
While similar values and interests among company staff make for a unified workforce, it’s not the best situation for solving difficult challenges. Homogenous groups often produce ideas that lack creativity. It’s like a family, all comfy and complacent in their cozy little house. Introducing a consultant into the mix is like opening a window to let in fresh air. Consultants approach issues from new angles and introduce different ideas that lead to stronger solutions to benefit the company.
The Heart of a Champion
Employees intimately understand how their company works. Consultants bring an expertise to the party that company staff lacks. An effective way to bring them together? Enter the champion. A champion is an employee who acts as a liaison and internal ally. The champion must understand the consultant’s goals and have full C-suite support. He or she provides the consultant with precious insight into company workings and potential trouble spots. When a solution (with all those challenging changes) is introduced, the champion can smooth the transition process, sparking enthusiasm and increasing acceptance among staff members.
We’re All in This Together
The real key to a successful consultant-employee relationship is maintaining continuous, open communication. This reduces employee anxiety because they know what to expect every step of the way. And it makes the consultant more effective because there’s no need for guesswork or mind reading. Bottom line, both consultants and employees are working toward a common goal: they both want to solve the company’s problem and make it a success.