Consultants today are hired by major corporations, small businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits. Often, the reason for hiring a consultant is a temporary and very specific need for specialized skills or expertise. When they’re hired for a specific period of time or for a special project, consultants are also a cheaper alternative to hiring a full-time—or even part-time—employee.
Employees might sometimes consider a consultant to mean major corporate restructuring and downsizing; they might think that they’re getting an Office Space shake-up. But that’s not always—not even most often—the reason or results of hiring a consultant. Using consultants to supplement and support the staff for strategic planning or project management is much more common. Sometimes, a consultant’s help may even involve only a couple conversations or one day’s work. Consultants can help theaters of any size or type, because all theaters, no matter how large or small—and like any other business—face challenges in both management and production every day.
What are the benefits of hiring a consultant? Here are just a few.
Consultants can offer a new perspective. A fresh and objective point of view—from someone who’s already dealt with similar issues—can lead to creative solutions that anyone too close to a situation might not have considered or be too involved to suggest. Consultants can review anything from season programming to staffing to marketing and fundraising plans to offer feedback that adds ideas and presents all of the consequences—potentially positive and negative—that a decision might cause.
Consultants can motivate and inspire. When consultants offer feedback to a theater, they’re not only giving their own objective opinion, but can motivate a theater’s board and staff to work harder and think more creatively too—the board and staff should even be inspired to work and communicate better on their own. Even consultants working on new programs or initiatives can help boost staff morale throughout an organization.
Consultants can be quick and thorough. Often, a consultant can complete a project more quickly and more thoroughly than a staff member. This isn’t because the staff member isn’t capable or valuable—it’s simply because the consultant can focus full efforts on the project while the staffer probably has a workspace covered with other issues to deal with.
Consultants can handle unfamiliar situations. Because theaters and other arts organizations depend so heavily on creative staff, they’re often organized without all of the management expertise they need to sustain them over the long run. Even theaters with skilled managers can benefit from consultants when they face new issues such as unfamiliar contracts or agreements, board and staff development, long-range planning, or transitions.
Consultants add to the workforce. Consultants might be hired for a special project, for review, input or motivation, or even as interim or temporary management during a transition. In any situation, consultants add to your workforce and allow everyone to best focus on their own jobs.
So, why hire a consultant? Maybe you need some specialized experience, want a fresh outlook, or just have too much work to handle. Whatever the reason, working with a consultant can have advantages you might not have even thought of.