Much of what we do in compensation is logical and systematic. Once you know the steps for a process or a report, why would you spend money on a consultant? Just get the work done and move on. After all, isn't this stuff in your job description?
Odds are, it is. Whether we're talking job pricings, salary structures, gender/minority analysis or you name it, it's all in our job description somewhere. And yet, in my experience, hiring a consultant doesn't mean you're shirking your job. In fact, if you do it well, working with a consultant often demonstrates your ability to lead by making an investment that will provide returns for many years without having to reopen your wallet.
Here's the case for investing in consulting assistance that I made to a colleague recently:
Become as sophisticated as the consultant's best clients. You may have worked for two or three companies. Your consultant will have worked for dozens. Each one had a problem to solve that you do, too. Work on a new or vexing project on your own, and you might as well be unfolding a paper map and uncapping a highlighter. Invest in a consultant and you get a GPS that shows you the two or three best routes, and enables you to avoid dead ends and accidents.
Meet hard deadlines. Most of our work is very time consuming. Especially if you are a small shop, odds are you will get interrupted by a zillion other things and probably should. Consultants not only have more experience than you do in creating realistic project plans, they also contract with you to meet specific deadlines.
Learn a lot. Consider this. Even if you know how to cook, the Barefoot Contessa offers tested techniques and recipes that you may never discover on your own. In compensation, the best consultants consider themselves teachers, showing you how everything is done and prepping you to do it yourself, so you can build on the results of your current project without further help from them.
Make your attorney happier. Can you even imagine that? Here are a couple of reasons. When employee legal challenges occur and work becomes discoverable by a court, consultants' work tends to be far more documented than in-house work. When it comes to questions of equity, guidance by a third party (who has no skin in the game) often has more street cred than your company's self-assessment. From an experience standpoint, consultants have typically worked with attorneys on these issues in the past, so they know how to address formal requirements. In addition, some consultants provide expert testimony. Having been on the "hot seat," they can help you avoid practices or documentation that can be easily challenged.
Unsubscribe when you're ready. Most consulting work is once and done. You decide if you want to invite them back.
Margaret O'Hanlon, CCP brings deep expertise to discussions on employee pay, performance management, career paths and communications at the Café. Her firm, re:Think Consulting, provides services that include market pay information, base salary structures, incentive plan design, career paths and new plan implementation. Margaret is a Board member of the Bay Area Compensation Association (BACA). Earlier, she was a Principal at Willis Towers Watson. Margaret coauthored the popular ebook, Everything You Do (in Compensation) Is Communications, which can be found @ https://gumroad.com/l/everythingiscommunication.