Great consultants bring immense value to our businesses:
- They bring outside perspectives and best practices they learn through their engagements with other organizations.
- They educate us on technology, trends, and data we need to know to stay current and relevant.
- They perform tasks that we don’t like, and they do it better and more efficiently because it’s their core competency.
- They deliver what we need, even when it differs from what we thought we wanted.
- They tell us the truth.
- They provide on-demand bandwidth during surge times.
- They enable us to push our strategic goals forward without getting pulled down into the weeds.
- They serve as trusted advisors, free of conflicts of interest, who see our businesses from a different point of view, and aren’t afraid to tell us the truth.
Of course all consulting relationships start out from a place of trust and an alignment of desired outcomes. Both parties are 100% in, and committed to measurable transformation.
Whether it’s business process re-engineering, accounting, HR, IT, legal, marketing, sales, or any other function, the experts that dedicate their entire business model to a specific area of expertise are instrumental in helping business owners build their strongest companies.
But many good things must come to an end. Not all consulting relationships will – or should – last a business lifetime.
How can a business owner know when it’s time to end the relationship? Here are 4 non-negotiable circumstances when you should consider moving on:
- You’re no longer a priority.
A good friend has a saying that applies in all aspects of life, including business: “Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated.”
When your relationship reaches a point where you feel ignored, not understood, or “tolerated rather than celebrated,” it’s time to move on.
One of my clients is getting ready to part ways with a long-time consultant. She’s not honoring his requests for weekly reports, doesn’t want to follow his process to complete their work, and lacks enthusiasm for their work together. I reminded him that he is paying her well to perform a job. He’s become accustomed to accepting mediocre service, because she knows his company.
He’s sacrificing high value in exchange for comfort & familiarity – a trade no business owner should ever make.
- You’ve outgrown them or are going in a different direction.
Your consultant may have done a great job in getting you from Point A to Point B, but are they equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experience to get you to your next level of growth? There is a big difference between growing a company with 1-10 employees and growing a company with 50-100 employees.
It’s important to continuously reassess the alignment of your consultant’s capabilities with where you are and where you are going, and ask yourself, “Would I hire this person today to help me with my current requirements?”
- They aren’t evolving and developing.
One of the important benefits of retaining a consultant is to mine their knowledge, experience, and network.
If your consultant is not investing in their own development, not constantly looking for ways to add value to their clients, and not expanding their own network which they can bring to you, then you’re unable to fully leverage an important investment.
Your consultant’s commitment to personal growth will directly impact the effectiveness and success of your engagement.
- They engage in unethical behavior, including breaching confidentiality.
Once a consultant breaches confidentiality, or engages in unethical behavior with your organization, the trust will be broken and irreparable.
Again, you may feel compelled to keep them engaged because you’ve invested a lot in the relationship and they know your business. However, a business relationship without trust is doomed to fail. It’s better to cut the cord, and bring in a new consultant that honors ethics and trust.
Great consultants can help a company make quantum leaps in its growth. They can be essential resources to help leaders reach their personal potential. Both parties should be equally committed to engagement excellence.
When everyone is aligned, the sky is the limit for learning and growth.
This article originally appeared on Inc.