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My View From The Other Side – Consulting to Business HR

Source | LinkedIn : By Neisha Lobo

After almost a decade in HR consulting, my move back into a corporate HR role has provided me with some valuable lessons on the interplay between HR consulting and business HR – something I will definitely take back with me if I ever get bitten by the consulting bug again.

I must state at the outset that I’ve found both roles equally challenging, fun and fulfilling – although very distinct.

Here are my insights from the other side of the table, some of which folks in consulting may find useful:

  1. When my problem is made to fit  ‘THE Solution’ – I’m still in the midst of thinking what the real underlying issues could be, but even before I get to defining the problem statement, a brief conversation with a consulting firm and I already have  a detailed proposal – ‘THE solution’ and just what I need. Clearly my problem needs to fit one of their solution offerings! I have great appreciation when a consultant is honest enough to admit that he/she needs to think the issues through and come back with a solution (and even greater appreciation when that solution is summarized on a single page!)
  2. Joint exploration versus ‘We Know It All’ – It’s true that one typically hires a consulting firm for its expertise, but the impact of that expertise lies in it being contextualized to the organization being consulted. What I’ve seen works well is when both the consulting firm and the organization invest in co-creating the solution, rather than one operating from a position of superiority and ‘we know it all’.
  3.  Understand my reality – While it may be a single project engagement for the consulting firm, it is most certainly one of many initiatives being driven in the organization. I’m not sure how many consultants would have a view on how their project fits in the overall scheme of things for the organization. The sequencing and pacing of an engagement is critical to its success.
  4. Appreciate that the view from this side of the table could be wider– in my business HR role I have the privilege of talking to and exploring the offerings of some of the leading consulting firms in a given solution area. As a result, I have a fairly good view of what’s available out there and what makes one firm or offering stand out from the other. It may be worthwhile for a consulting firm to seek this feedback from organizations, and improve their offerings accordingly.

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