ployees into cross-functional teams and gave them
three months to come up with proposals for reducing
costs and developing the business. Her strategy gave
everyone a chance to offer input, and it generated
many useful ideas.
By involving employees at all levels, the consultant drummed up universal support for the leader’s
ideas. That’s no easy feat, since we all know major
changes often provoke anxiety and suspicion. But
the consultant was skilled at bringing all of the
stakeholders into the conversation and ensuring everyone felt heard throughout the transition.
TURNING CLIENTS’ IDEAS INTO REALITY
People hire consultants because they have notions of
where they want to go, but they’re unsure how to get
there. Consultants ensure that clients not only reach
their targets, but they also thrive in the process. Our
roles vary based on our clients’ needs — we can be
strategists, confidants, mediators, and coaches. But
our ultimate goals are always to provide clear paths
forward so our clients can achieve their goals.
HERE’S HOW CONSULTANTS CAN ENSURE WE’RE
APPROACHING OUR CLIENTS’ NEEDS APPROPRIATELY EVERY TIME:
1. Collaborate with internal team members. Internal
consultants may not have objective perspectives
on the company’s problems, but they have intimate
knowledge of key dynamics and concerns. They’ll
have valuable insights on how to initiate changes
sensitively and in a way that’s palatable to employees across the organization. Make sure you connect
with them early and often.
Talk with associates at different levels of the
company as well. The C-suite takes one view of a
problem, but the marketing or sales or administrative teams will have their own unique perspectives.
Schedule time with members from all departments,
and invite them to share their thoughts and concerns.
When possible, involve a range of employees in
your implementation strategies so they’ll become
change advocates to their peers.
2. Assert your role. Once you’ve signed on to help a
client, you become part of the team. You may not be
an employee, but you are just as invested in the or-
ganization’s success as anyone else. Make yourself
visible within the office, and get to know the people
around you. This helps create trust between you and
employees, which is essential to bringing ideas to
fruition. They need to see you’re on their side.
Let people know exactly what your role is within
the organization. If you’re there to mediate conflicts
during transition, explain how people can approach
you with a dispute. If you’re serving as a strategist,
tell employees when you’re available to hear ideas
or sit in on brainstorming strategies.
3. Create personalized plans for every client. Maybe
you’ve been a consultant for years and think you’ve
seen every client problem in the book. That’s still no
reason to take a lax attitude toward your client strategies. Every company presents unique problems and
personalities, so come to each prepared for a fresh
start. Draw on your previous experiences, of course.
But make sure you’re tailoring that knowledge to
every client’s circumstances and needs.
For example, a client may have employees with
varying degrees of tech savvy. Millennials might be
eager to adopt new digital tools, while older team
members might need more training and assurance
on those systems. Identify the nuances within the
organization, and then develop a plan that addresses
them in relevant ways.
Change isn’t easy, but it’s certainly not impossible—especially with the right consultant. We have
the opportunity to shape companies and make them
better, more dynamic organizations. By establishing
the right relationship with the businesses we serve,
we have the power to help them completely transform from the inside out.
Business leaders rely on us to help them steer
their companies, and that’s a pretty incredible position to hold. How many other business professionals
get to spend their days turning abstract concepts into
Sona Jepsen is the global head of sales enablement at
Fidelity National Information Services (FIS). Her team
empowers FIS’s global sales teams with sales content,
strategic insights, and world-class learning
and development opportunities.