While consultants serve an important purpose, some organisations overuse them, while under-utilising the expertise within their own ranks. With the best will in the world, it is difficult for even highly experienced consultants to develop a truly deep, intricate and intimate knowledge of a business in a reasonable time frame. The investment may be put to better use skilling up and resourcing intrapreneurs who then keep that knowledge, experience and expertise in-house to add to the corporate knowledge base.
Use the skills already within your workforce.
Favoring consultant-driven change over intrapreneur-led change may even disempower and disengage employees who may get the impression that management does not have confidence in their capabilities. Add to that the fact that opportunities for new learning and experimenting are lost for intrapreneurial employees and there is a good case to be made for importing expertise very selectively and, where possible, deploying and augmenting the skills already in-house.
A Case Study
One large government department recently wanted to reform their recruitment practices. Rather than going to a consulting firm to facilitate that, a couple of keen, intrapreneurial HR managers put their hands up to do it as a project in-house. Over a period of a few months, they collaboratively worked out a new recruitment process that was significantly different from their traditional practices. They wanted to make sure that the new processes would meet the needs of the organisation not just for the present but also the future.
The problem was that recruitment had become a ‘tick and flick’ process. A role was advertised when it became vacant without consideration for current and future needs and capability gaps in the team to meet delivery obligations. Advertising of the position tended to be generic in nature and failed to stand out and promote the benefits of working with the department. The assessment process generally followed the standard application – interview – referee check process, where often the interview formed the basis of the selection decision. Then once the person was selected, the onboarding process was inadequate, which adversely impacted new comers, sometimes even resulting in new recruits leaving soon after being hired. There was also a tendency to recruit from existing employees because “they knew the business” and “will stay longer term”. The downside of this was that the department was potentially limiting the introduction of fresh ideas and new capabilities to the workforce.
The two HR managers reengineered and revitalised the process by ensuring that any role descriptions that came vacant were redesigned to reflect the future needs of the department which they identified through various surveys. They introduced assessment of behaviours and attitudes, tested for team fit, leadership skills and professed abilities. People who would be on the interview panel were involved in the process even before the position was advertised so they could help inform the advertising content. The panel members could even make recommendations if strong applicants were potentially suited to other roles within the department. What’s more, they facilitated contact with the appropriate people.
Once the job was awarded, the interview panel worked with the role manager to assist with the on-boarding process.
To help prepare relevant people for the new recruitment processes, the two managers created a short video series called Creative Recruitment which was visually engaging and rather humorous. They also introduced a range of other initiatives designed to promote the benefits of working for that particular government department – especially in regional and remote areas.
The point is that these two managers deeply understood both the issues and the context and designed a highly tailored solution for their organisation using their exceptional in-situ knowledge. Plus, they had ‘skin in the game’ because they would have to live with the outcomes.
Using your intrapreneurs builds your corporate knowledge base
It pays to look within your ranks first for people who are hungry to develop their skills and are prepared to invest the time and effort in acquiring them – either for their own personal satisfaction or for the leverage it will bring their career progression. The role of the consultant then can become one of mentoring the intrapreneur through the implementation of their project rather than doing it for them, all the while building the corporate knowledge base.
Admittedly this may take a little longer but it is worth the pay-off.