Your business is growing. It’s evolving and changing, and in many ways you feel great about that. But with each operational change and every new staff member, there are more holidays to cover, more sicknesses and absences to manage and more people issues to handle. At some point in this ocean of ‘to-do’s’, you may realise you could use some trusted support, and that’s where a dedicated HR presence can help. But what can they really help with? How many people justifies external support? With so many different choices out there, how do you choose the right HR consultant for you, your business and your team?
First Step – Honest Diagnosis
As a first step, think about what your current business challenges are. Is it retaining your good people? Is it finding the right people? Is it customer service levels? Perhaps it’s decisions your team are making that you’re unhappy about? It’s important to take an honest look at your business and identify the conversations you’ve been having too many of, or that you’ve been avoiding and you’ll start to understand where you could use support. Whatever the challenges, or business size, a good consultant will explore your needs without any of the judgment you are heaping on yourself, long before they get anywhere near suggesting solutions.
Choose Values, As Well As Technical Expertise
We see this often. The focus when recruiting new people goes more into technical skill, experience and networks they have. But the biggest challenges business owners face usually relate to behaviour and differences in personal values. So when you think about current people capability, spend some time thinking about the characteristics of people that work well in your business and the culture you’ve created. You can then apply that thinking to the choice you make about the external consultants you choose to work with so you get a good match.
Ask For Recommendations
There is nothing quite as reassuring as a personal recommendation. In the age of digital selling, it’s easy for people to make claims about what they can deliver. But they might not be as good as they claim to be and if you’re getting in touch because it’s not your area of expertise, there’s a higher risk that you’ll receive a surprise down the line. So personal recommendations, especially in trusted professions, by people you trust and who know you, are usually a strong basis for finding a good fit. At Organic P&O Solutions, our new business is generated 100% from referrals and recommendations. So, talk to your business connections and trusted friends and ask them who they could recommend. You can also use your LinkedIn network and clients.
Delegate (To A Point)
Engage the team members who are going to work with your external suppliers by all means, but remember you’re looking at support for expertise that isn’t currently in the business. So, while other opinions may be valuable, stay close to recommendations and opinions to make sure you are exploring relevant options.
Qualifications, experience and technical expertise can all be verified. It’s the nature of the solutions on offer and the way the consultant works that are also important for you to think about. Which means don’t delegate the research entirely to someone else. Junior people can’t think like you do as a business owner, not yet anyway! So be there to ask the strategic, searching questions about how the consultancy can meet your business goals now and for as long as you need them to.
Ask Quality Questions
When you’re talking to potential consultants, ask them how they work. Get specific examples. Consider the frequency and level of advice you feel you will need for the current headcount in your business now and for the future. Ask for examples about how they work with other clients, and how that has worked out. What results have they delivered? Most importantly, ask them how they will get to know you, your team and your business so they can deliver the right service for you. It’s also important to find out what they can deliver operationally in terms of capacity too, so you can plan for those future needs you’ve identified.
There’s a lot to think about when deciding who you’ll use to help you with your team. It’s never one-size fits all when you are dealing with people and we know from our experience at Organic P&O Solutions that we are really right for some businesses and not for others. That’s why we refer to partners where we think the service on offer might be a better fit.