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Monday, 03 March 2014 00:00

10 Questions to Ask Your [Prospective] Change Management Consultant

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I was a little surprised to discover that one of my most popular blog posts in the past few months has been my piece on '10 Tips for Choosing the Right Change Management Consultant'.  I've heard from several people who said that it had helped them clarify what they were looking for.

One person in the UK said that she's been able to narrow down the list of consultants to 3, but has been asked by her leadership team to 'interview' them to assess which one will be the best fit for their project.  She asks:  "What interview questions should I use?"

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My advice was to approach it the way you'd approach any BBI (Behavioral Based Interview), with open-ended questions designed to identify strengths, weaknesses, skills and attitude.

Here are the 10 questions I think she should ask:

1.  What is your approach to change management?

This is a bit of a trick question:  You want your change management consultant to have a good understanding of the various theoretical approaches out there, but as I've said before, different projects will require different approaches or a combination of approaches.  A consultant who says they follow X approach every time probably isn't going to be flexible enough.

2.  Do you do the work yourself?

Is the person sitting in front of you merely the selling face of the organization, who will send in junior interns as soon as you're paid the first retainer?  There is no wrong answer here - just know what you think would work best for you.  You may llike that young, enthusiastic individuals will be joining your team for the project.  Or you may think that this change really needs seasoned individuals.  Know what you want before you ask the question.  And if the answer isn't what you want, ask how to get what you need.

3.  What does your team look like?

Depending on the scope of the change, and the nature of the organization, specialist team members may be required to take on different tasks (documentation, communication, training, etc.).  You're looking for an answer that makes it clear the consultant recognizes the need for specialists and can bring them in as required.  Another way to ask this question is:  What kind of specialists do you think this project needs?

4.  We've historically had X problem.  How will you deal with that?  

You're looking for an answer like "I've encountered similar challenges in the past.  Here's the approach I've taken in those situations..."  A consultant who dismisses the issues or says "History isn't important - we're moving forward!" isn't going to be a productive fit in the long term.

5.  How will input and insight be gathered?  How will you collect criticism?

With the first question, you're looking for a structured approach that includes representatives from across the organization - a consultant who focuses only on gathering input from 'management' will run into trouble getting junior and mid-level workers to buy into the change.  With the second question, the best respons is one that acknowledges that criticism will happen regardless of how great the change process is - and acknowledges that criticism can provide valuable insights.

6.  What is your approach to communication?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Communication is absolutely crucial to a successful change management project.  A good change management consultant should be able to speak knowledgeably about communication strategies both at the outset of a change and throughout the process, and should recognize the need for frequent, honest communication via a variety of media.

7.  How will knowledge transfer be handled?

It can seem easy to bring in a change management SWAT team who takes care of everything - but then the changes often leave when the SWAT team does.  You want a change management consultant who works with your team throughout the process, to ensure your employees are fully engaged in the process and understand all the details.  An answer like "We have training sessions during the last week of the process..." isn't enough.

8.  Tell us about a successful change management project you led.

This is classic BBI questioning, designed to get at the example which most easily comes to mind.  The answer will give you good insight into the way the consultant works best.

9.  Tell us about a failure - and what happened.

No change management project goes seamlessly - there are always challenges along the way.  This question will help you understand the problem-solving skills and responsiveness of the consultant - and whether they'll fall down at the first hurdle.  You're looking to find out how the consultant managed to turn that failure into a success - either with the client or with future clients.

10.  What does success looks like to you?

Some people resist change management consultants, thinking they're too much like HR types who are more concerned with 'process' than with 'bottom line'.  Asking what success looks like will help you identify whether the person you're talking to is really focused on business results.

 

 

Read 20392 times Last modified on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 15:42

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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