“I was nervous about bringing in sparks because I thought I was supposed to have answers. Or that their difference or the fact that they made my colleagues uncomfortable would reflect poorly on me. But what I came to realize is that while their difference can cause discomfort, it is often necessary.” – Beth Comstock, Imagine it Forward
A spark creates change. They identify problem areas and work alongside you and your colleagues to push boundaries.
You don’t have to wait for a problem to arise before searching for a spark, though. Yes, a spark can come in to help fix a sticky situation, but a business that’s seemingly getting by just fine can also benefit from bringing in a consultant – they can help you grow your business even more.
Every industry has been impacted by the COVID crisis in one way or another. Small businesses may be especially vulnerable because they are so busy surviving, there’s no bandwidth to reimagine work right now. If you want to propel your business forward in these uncertain times, consider working with someone from the outside.
But Will They Judge Me?
Feeling anxious about what an outsider might think? Don’t! An outside perspective allows you to see your business through a different set of eyes. Consultants identify problem areas and highlight potential opportunities for improvement. The day-to-day grind can put you in the weeds, unable to think clearly. Bringing in another opinion gives you the opportunity to start fresh.
I Know It’s Important – But How Do I Sell My Boss?
You may not have the authority or budget to bring in an outsider, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t suggest this to management. Think about how your company can grow by using a consultant, not just you personally. If you can show your boss that she will look better, she might be more inclined to sign off on the idea. Look at a consultant’s services as another resource to propel your company even further!
Not sure how to tie it to your company’s goals? Start with the why.
State why you think outside help is needed. The COVID crisis alone is a strong reason to start to explore outside opinions. But if you need more, pull up some lower than usual sales numbers or suggest a program that has grown a bit stale. By highlighting some areas of the business that are lacking, you’ll bring attention to the specifics where growth is possible. This opens the door to communication and creates a transparent work environment. Remember, this isn’t personal – you are helping the company grow which will make both you and your boss look great!
But What About My Co-Workers?
People often worry a consultant will make their coworkers uncomfortable but don’t stress about this. The best consultants are very comfortable with discomfort! Consultants can have those uncomfortable conversations you’re not sure how to approach. It’s also a good way to break the ice and normalize talking through any ideas, thoughts, or issues, anyone has within the business. Once the door to straightforward communication is propped open, there will no longer be a stigma surrounding talking through issues at your workplace.
Think your colleagues will never change? Don’t be so sure. People on the outside grab attention and interest — change may be easier than you think! Plus, you are on the inside, making sure follow up is happening. If you tend to the spark, it will continue to burn even after they leave.
You might be wary of having your business and colleagues put on display but discomfort is where the most growth happens. A spark will create change that will ultimately benefit the culture within your business, your office policies, and inner-office relationships.
Not Sure How a Spark Can Help? Here are some projects consultants have been successful spearheading:
- Creating and following through with a business or marketing plan
- Redefining or improving existing management strategies
- Implementing HR strategies, working with existing employees as well as recruiting new talent for your business
Don’t forget, the consultants you hire are working with you, not against you. They want your business to succeed.
Bringing someone in with no bias or preconceived notion of the inner workings of your business allows for a professional to give their genuine thoughts and opinions. This can be very influential for decision making within your business “…people pay attention to sparks, especially when they make them think or say the unexpected.” It’s important for any business to get feedback on how it’s being perceived from the outside. Also, added perk—an outsider doesn’t have to abide by office politics!
Won’t A Spark Want to Re-Define Everything?
Sometimes a consultant might throw out some ideas that seem crazy or unattainable. It’s okay if you don’t use the final idea – remember you are in charge. At a minimum, they will push you to move things forward. Progress will be made in some form or another, which is the ultimate goal.
So What Are You Waiting For?
No matter what it is that your business is lacking, or if your business is doing well but you could use a second opinion, bring in a spark and start a fire!