Advisors vs Consultants – can you tell the difference?

Wade into the world of consultancy, advisers, coaches, mentors & interims you will likely find yourself a little confused. Fear not, it’s not you, it’s the confusing state of the independent industry.

You’ll hear talk of the “Big 4”, Transformation, Fintech, Turnaround, Pivoting, Resilience, Talent Strategy to name but a few. 

Advisors vs Consultants – can you tell the difference? – StrategyFred

Advisors and consultants are talked about in the same breath, painted as the same to so many, yet are really very different. Greatly misunderstood by employees alike, but let’s get some clarity.

The biggest difference between advisors and consultants is that advisors help you think about and plan your future needs (e.g. guide you to see the need for a new business structure or business system) whilst consultants will analyse and help you implement changes you have likely already identified (e.g. work out which business system suits you best and implement it) . 

Consultants tend to be specific in functional areas and great in the detail (e.g. sales or operations) and advisors more general across multiple disciplines, perhaps less so involved with the nitty gritty specifics. Consultants tend to focus on changes in the business, advisors operate at a more strategic leadership level and changes to the business.

Consultants tend to be short term and project based, advisors tend to form a longer term partnership with the business and the leadership team.

So, both are valuable, both have their place, and both are different. Lets not confuse advisors and consultants with coaches, who are different again. Coaches can work with individuals and teams without having any understanding of your business, whereas both advisors and consultants will require either an understanding of your business or your needs. Advisors will have a breadth of experience which will help guide you on your journey in business and can act as leaders within your business when needed. Consultants will provide expertise to make specific changes to your business.

So, if you are looking at your business and wondering what changes you need to make, you will benefit from an advisor. If you already know the changes you wish to make, and need an expert to make the changes, you likely need a consultant. If you are wrestling with your own motivation and pathway in life, you likely need a coach.

At Creative in TiME, we are business advisors with a twist of coaching. TiME is your most precious resource, we help you make the most of it. We will work with you at a senior level to look at your future plans and advise and support you in identifying the changes you need to make and how you can make them. We love helping you reach your goals and work in partnership with you to achieve this.

Risks vs Issues explained!

Through my career going back to my project and programme management days through to executive management I always enjoyed pointing out the difference between a risk and an issue, and was often bemused at how many six figure “business experts” could not discern one from another. 

So, I thought I would share, in my own humble opinion, my views…..

Lets start with the basics:

  • A RISK is something that may, or may not happen but hasn’t yet happened.
  • An ISSUE is something that HAS happened and is having or has had an impact.

So let’s make a really easy example to create a view:

If you are driving a car and you see a pot hole in the road ahead, the pot hole is in the future, it hasn’t “happened” to you or your car yet. There is a RISK that you will hit the pothole which may have an impact on either you, your car or your load. (E.g. IF I hit that Pot hole in the road THEN I may spill my nice cup of coffee that Fred Warner made me!)

The pot hole won’t hit you, you will hit it! If you have your eyes open and on the road, you can assess that there is a risk of hitting said pot hole and decide on which course of action to take: Avoid, Mitigate, Reduce, Accept (the typical methods). To AVOID it you could steer round the pothole, To MITIGATE it you could pick your coffee cup up to avoid it spilling. To REDUCE it you could slow down before hitting it and drive slowly over it. To ACCEPT it, you think, “whatever” and carry on as you are and take the consequences. (You may even blend your RISK approach and do several of the above)

Now, lets say that for whatever reason you have hit the pot hole and it HAS had an impact on you, your car or your load (or coffee in this case):

Lets say your were thinking about something else, didn’t discern the risk, hit the pot hole, (which came as a huge surprise even though your son or daughter in the passenger seat saw it, pointed at it, and you ignored them – just like employees so often do) and as a consequence the coffee has spilt all over your lap (and you are now shouting at your son or daughter for distracting you and telling them its their fault – maybe like you do with your employees?)

You are grateful there is no long lasting damage to the car, although repeating the same mistake over and over will create excessive wear that will lead to shortened suspension life (avoid getting techy here and talking about MTBF and Failure Modes).

Hitting the pothole has resulted in an ISSUE of coffee spilt all over your lap. They are not one and the same thing. One RISK (pot hole) led to another ISSUE (coffee spillage). One RISK can result in many ISSUES, all impacting each other like a spiders web of dependents.

Another set of circumstances could have been many ISSUEs coming from the one IMPACT, so maybe you hit the pot hole, spilt your coffee, suffered a tyre blow out and the shock of the hot coffee on your lap distracts your attention from the road, you swerved, crashed into a tree, and, well, you can let your imagination do the rest!

Understanding what a RISK is and how it can result in many, many ISSUES, all of which could have been managed effectively in the first place, is really the crux of risk management. Sometimes it is easy to say you can over think RISK, but you’d be amazed at how this can work.

Get your team together, play a few scenarios out that you can think of, get their creative juices flowing, and let the team go, you’ll be amazed what they come up with. THEN, most importantly, make decisions. Which RISKS do you accept (e.g. The world ending is not a plausible risk for most business to manage), and which do you take up and do something about? Maybe you change how you resource, manage your cashflow, the order or sequence of events to come. Maybe you put in checks and balances in place. Maybe you think you can cope with the worst outcomes and time is of essence. If you have considered your RISKS, you will be in a stronger position and should find yourself dealing with so many less ISSUES.

I achieved a lot of varying business deliverables to the satisfaction of the stakeholders in the past, some through pressure & blood sweat and tears, but I would say mostly through RISK and ISSUE management, far more than the quality of my planning or my detailed tracking of where we were at, and far more than shouting at anyone to work harder. (How many times to staff feel the pressure because of delays at a senior level in making decisions in the first place!)

In my leadership roles I always pictured myself as the key RISK player. It’s as though the team are in a car driving down the road, the team leaders are at the steering wheel, the team are making the car operate/ work (engine, suspension, steering, air con, etc) and it is my role to be up ahead of the car to ensure the road ahead is as clear as possible for the team to follow me where I want them to go.

If ISSUES arose due to them being unavoidable, then myself and the team will have to stop the car, mop up the issues and get the car moving again, with me up ahead road sweeping as before!

So, I suppose you could say that leading RISK and reducing RISK is like being a road sweeper!!

All opinions my own!

Fred Warner

#RISK #ISSUES #Management #Programme #Project #Team

Hiring Great People, 5 mistakes to avoid

Hiring great people eh, if we hire great people we’ll have a great business and all will be well!! If only it were that easy, everyone would hire great people and all would be well in the world.

There are so many aspects of the chemistry and formulae required in getting great people that a great person in one business may not fit at all in another business. We are all different, from our cultural preferences, to the leadership styles we like, so much of what makes great employees depends on the employer as opposed to the employee who so often leave,  get released or become career stagnant because they were the “wrong” person. Have you got clear roles & responsibilities?Are you being honest about the culture within the business? Do you even know the culture in your business? Are there really prospects? Is the role achievable or a pipe dream of yours? Have you considered how long it will take to get the role up to scratch if it is a new role?

Hiring great people, though, is so tough difficult and time consuming, it can cripple a day to day job for a line manager, and if it doesn’t work out the line manager has to go through the pain all over again.

Add to the hiring difficulties the constraints placed on the line manager by the wider business. So often you are forced to create a job spec which is almost impossible to fill, trying to find a needle in a hay stack, people with multi skilled backgrounds, great at everything, or trying to get high calibre staff on low salaries, often risking less experience against higher salaried alternatives. Wages are high, so getting it wrong can be very costly.

So, here, in my own humble opinion, are FIVE of the biggest mistakes to avoid in hiring great people, without telling you how many of them I’ve made 😉

  1.  Job roles that you can’t or won’t actually deliver on: Have a job spec you can actually and really deliver on as an employer: Have you all (as in the line manager with the support of the stakeholders) agreed what is actually going to be required of the new role, what responsibilities and accountabilities they will hold? Can you deliver on this role to the new recruit? How many people move to jobs with responsibilities or accountabilities promised but aren’t really delivered (maybe a micro manager up above, maybe unclear R&R meaning others feel this is also their job)? Will they actually get to make decisions? Get it clear internally on what the job spec says, what you are looking for and be honest!! If you cannot promise freedom on budgets then say so, if you expect more team management than leadership, say so. 
  2. Don’t try to shoe-horn too much into one role: Life is a constant compromise, smaller business have the advantage of agility and the disadvantage of needing multi skilled and flexible people (who are harder to find than single skilled in-flexible people).  This may be a frustration born out of constraints of affordability, which are real, however, rather than shoe horning everything into one role and expecting someone to deliver it, if you are taking the time to bring new skills into the business it is time to reflect. What are the greatest priorities? What skills would make the single biggest difference? Focus on these areas when recruiting, the candidates you see may not have all the skills, but make sure when you choose someone they DO have the priority skills as opposed to hiring someone who has all the skills without being strong in your priority areas.
  3. If in any DOUBT – DO NOT offer the job: From personal experience this is often a very easy one to fall foul of, especially when you are tired of recruiting, you have recruiters desperate for their fee and are pushing for a decision to offer as opposed to ensuring you have the right person for the role. Maybe you’ve been searching so long you just want to move on and close this down. Getting it wrong is normally more costly than waiting for the right person, so, if in doubt, do NOT offer.
  4. Don’t resist changing the role for the right person: Another area that can really hamper you is finding someone with just the right skills you need to help your business, but they also have other skills that would work for you, or these other skills mean they command a higher salary. If you find the right person for the company, review the R&R internally to see if you can accommodate their skills, if you can, re-write the job spec, offer them the job and inform everyone of the changes coming. In a growing business this is really key.
  5. Be totally honest with potential employees: This shouldn’t really be the last on the list, rather the first. It sounds so easy to say, yet are you really missing out a number of key components that would influence someone’s decision to join you? When a new employee joins, both you and them are making a significant investment of your time and effort into each other. If there are things they would have liked to know, they will find out in time and may not only hold you in disregard for it, but also then move on leaving you no better off. Have you got a really difficult and picky Finance department, is the leadership style of the business dictatorial or alternatively procrastinating? Is their overlap and conflict at a management level that affects employees day to day as they watch leaders battle it out, undermining each other as they seek to gain favour and influence? Is there a reason someone would not join you? If so, you should tell them, but also seek to resolve it. 

So, in summary, recruitment is really tough and time consuming to get the right people! In my own experience, I’d say I’ve got less than 50% success rate on hiring people that turned out great, which is hard to admit! How about you?

#Recruitment #Leadership #Talent #Hiring #People #Employee #Employer #Agencies