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Seeking the right business consultant
November 5, 2012 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Our company is successful. We (the three founders) are realizing that we need to add more structure and middle management. And we're looking for the right consultant to help us do that.

We have a great company and we love what we do. It's grown to a size where we, the founders, spend more time dealing with small details and managing lower level employees than focusing on the big picture vision stuff, so we've realized we need to add more middle management and structure to the company.

We tried working with a business consultant last year to help us in this transition and it wasn't a great experience: she didn't "get" us/our quirkiness/the things that make us special and mostly seemed to want to offer us advice as to how we could become bigger/more successful, without helping us figure out the structure/management stuff.

We're not a very small company but we're not a big company either. I think this also has hampered our search for the right consultant: it seems they either cater to mom-and-pop operations or huge companies.

We'd like to find a consultant in the Seattle area, though we're open to Skype/phone/email sessions with the right person if they're outside of our area.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
MeMail me. I'm not consulting these days, but I've done that type of thing with quirky companies.
posted by 26.2 at 8:45 AM on November 5, 2012


I'll be looking for help in that exact field. We're two founders looking to add middle management. iI anyone can provide any insight on how to best do that, we'd be grateful.
posted by ruelle at 9:38 AM on November 5, 2012


It's grown to a size where we, the founders, spend more time dealing with small details and managing lower level employees than focusing on the big picture vision stuff, so we've realized we need to add more middle management and structure to the company.
Have you spent much time thinking about why you need to spend so much time managing low-level employees? Are you hiring the wrong people, or just not putting much effort into ensuring that you can trust them to operate with more independence? Are you recognizing employees who are able to work independently, and empowering them to mentor others?

If your employees believe in the overall vision / mission of your company, and are basically competent at their jobs, it can be very helpful to allow them to make small mistakes on their own. This will work well if your company culture is both open to making small mistakes and eager to correct those mistakes quickly, in a way that is non-punitive. Teach your organization how to learn, and you will be amazed at what it can do for you.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:45 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since there are other people in the same boat. I'll give a general overview.

There are a couple factors at play here. First, you do need to have a clear understanding of where you want to take the company. Organization design flows from strategy. What geography, customer segments, etc. That doesn't mean you need to be planning growth in size. All three of you need to understand and agree on the plan forward.

Next, your looking at issues of how the three of you want to handle operational control. If you want to have an organizational structure that frees you of some details you need to trust other people to do that work. Oftentimes what we really want is someone to do detailed work either in our exact style or we want to second guess/override every decision. That way lies madness. If you're going to second guess people you need to have more detailed or more accurate information than they do. That's probably the number one problem I see when growing companies try to bring in operational managers. The owners/partners didn't understand how to let go of operational decisions. The partners end up frustrated and the operation managers quit.

The consultant should help you figure out the structure, the people/skills you need AND how to do the transition. But the real work is the transition.
posted by 26.2 at 11:11 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seconding 26.2

I do this exact work for a living. Barring any "personality" issues (which you did not mention in your description) 26.2's advice is dead on. There is a process to this type of org change and scaling phase. All of the principals need to be committed to the change and be on the same page about goals. Each change can then be considered in the context of the total strategy connecting the current state to the eventual goal.

I am in LA (so I do not know local folks to help you). This middle ground style of consulting is extremely tough to find. These people frequently get hired in. The ones that don't are so busy that they don't have to market themselves.

MeMail me if you want to chat more or speak on the phone. This type of change can unlock a company if executed properly.

Good luck!
posted by milqman at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2012


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