Patrick Keady

10 reasons to dislike consultants


I thought I’d have a little fun at the expense of my fellow Consultants and address NHS client’s frustration with them.


10 : they do not communicate clearly and concisely

Consultants love speaking jargon and hearing themselves talk.  All professions have it.  Healthcare professionals use it too as a substitute for thinking, and they all use it in a way that makes them appear to be superior.  While, they can appear silly when speaking jargon.  Consultants may be the worst of all professions in using jargon and it’s not necessary for them to communicate that way.  They’re really not communicating, and they’re not really thinking.


9 : they don’t keep clients informed

Consultants often keep their clients in the dark. Failing to constantly communicate, is foolish from the Consultant’s professional standpoint and it is counter-intuitive too.


8 : they are constantly over-consulting

Consultants often have a one-size-fits-all approach.  Just as the fixed-price contractor has no financial incentive to keep the price down once hired for the job, so the Consultant who charges by the day has little incentive to keep down the number of days that they charge for.  This can result in unnecessary consulting.


7 : they have poor listening skills

While Consultants love hearing themselves talk, they are not always very good at listening.  Clients want their consultants to listen carefully to their concerns and address them appropriately.  Clients don’t want to be interrupted. It is essential that the Consultant is always ready and able to listen to the client’s description of his or her goals and needs.  The exceptional Consultant looks beyond the words to delve into the facts, circumstances and other aspects that define the situation.  The exceptional Consultant applies his or her experience and the wisdom derived from that experience.


6 : inexperienced consultants are doing most of the work

This is the reality at most Consulting companies, particularly the larger ones. Consulting companies try to leverage, to create the highest possible ratio of associates to partners.  The higher the ratio, the more money the partners make.  For most clients, this generally means paying for the training of young associates.


5 : they spend too much time on insignificant issues

Consultants are notorious for failing to prioritize issues.  This is especially true in smaller contracts worth less than £250k.  Consultants should know when to leave well enough alone, especially given how expensive Consultants can be.


4 : they don’t care about the client

Too few Consultants are passionate about what they do. This translates to indifference toward clients.  For many of them, they don’t look forward to going to work.  While there are some passionate superstars at each Consulting company, many are burned-out.  That’s why I work as a freelance consultant and interim manager, to form a team of passionate, hard-working network of associates who love what they do and love helping clients.


3 : their fees are out of this world

The traditional consulting business model is broken.  Consulting fees have rocketed over the last ten years, with Consultants at some larger firms billing up to £2000 a day and Consultants are medium-sized companies charging more than £1200 a day.  These outrageous charges are driven by overheads such as expensive office space with lavish artwork and dramatic views; lots of  support staff, receptionists; and high-paid associates.


2 : they are not responsive

While we are all busy, that can be just an excuse for not promptly return a client’s phone call or replying to their emails.  While clients may have differing definitions of promptly, it seems to me that less than one business day is a good starting point. Clients crave immediacy, just as I do.


1 : they are sticks in the mud

Consultants are often viewed as sticks in the mud because of their failure to set a positive tone and their annoying habit of finding reasons why a particular assignment can’t end or why an idea won’t work.  Putting it another way, good Consultants are able to identify significant potential problems.  While great Consultants provide effective, efficient and economical solutions to those problems.


Over to you

While this list criticises my industry, I hope it helps challenge Consultants and their clients to improve the value of the services we offer.  And, please be assured that I put this list together in the spirit of having a little fun.  What experiences have you had with Consultants?  Feel free to share in the comments section.

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