Companies are relying on independent workers like never before. Whether driven by new requirements or a need for on demand professionals at the expert level, the ‘gig economy’ has propelled short-term work into the spotlight. A study by EY found that 56% of companies used contract professionals to complete projects that were beyond the expertise of their existing workforce, and 55% cited cost considerations for this decision.
Why industry networks are limited
Tight industry networks are the usual source of external consultants, given that they typically share similar values, behaviours, perspectives, and even skill sets with managers. For tasks and projects that require a business-as-usual approach this can be fine. However, this approach misses out on the benefits that professionals from outside the network can bring.
At one large firm where I served on the internal strategy team, almost half of the senior executives had worked at the same two companies previously, and when they needed consultants they used former colleagues. While they worked well together and had a shared understanding of success, these consultants weren’t able to change the culture or challenge existing ways of doing things. Rarely did these consultants contribute ideas that were fundamentally different from those of existing employees.
How to get fresh perspective
Independent consultants who come from untapped networks don’t face these limitations, and treat their outside experience as an asset. They bring fresh thinking and an innovative perspective to behaviour change and project implementation, finding solutions where others may stumble.
As outsiders, independent consultants are also more likely to get honest feedback on how things are going. For example, staff may confess limiting dynamics or criticism that they wouldn’t disclose to a member of the executive team. This can help independent consultants be more effective navigating challenges.
During one strategy programme I led following a company buyout, staff were eager to discuss ethical and behavioural concerns they had about fellow colleagues and even management. Few felt comfortable going directly to the investors to voice concerns, but as an independent consultant I represented a safer communication channel. Issues that had been bubbling under the surface for years were finally acknowledged and addressed.
Where to find better talent
Tapping into new networks of consultants is made possible by platforms like Talmix, which aggregates talent and oversees the project application process. With a workforce specialised in strategy, consulting, major change programmes and much more, Talmix is an effective way to match independent business talent to company needs. The rigorous application and resume submission process helps consultants screen themselves to ensure they are a good fit, and to demonstrate that they are experienced, knowledgeable, and committed to success. By the time an executive reviews applications, a selected number of qualified candidates are screened and prequalified. While Talmix’s platform contains over 27,000 independent consultants, the screening and application process favours a good match over a high number of applications.
Like any other new joiners, adding independent consultants to your workforce can bring challenges. However, this specialised workforce is accustomed to working in new environments, and is ideal for the special assignments of a change programme. Cost-effective on their own, independent consultants also focus on using time and other resources efficiently. Companies, in turn, enjoy the rewards of a new strategy or change programme faster, which can mean the difference between success and failure.
To discover more about how independent consultants can help implement change in your business and get in touch with Talmix today.
“Is the gig economy a fleeting fad, or an enduring legacy?” EY.com
About the Author
Kia has over 15 years in corporate and small business strategy, working closely with CEOs, business owners, investors, government agencies, and NGOs around the world on high-impact growth projects. With a focus on customer-centric strategy and innovative growth, Kia has published thought pieces on the role of disruptive technology in the future, and recently authored the strategy book Flashpoint 100: Radical Business Growth in 100 Days. Kia holds a BA in consumer psychology from Yale University and an MBA from Insead.More Content by Kia Davis