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Recognising Your Internal Expertise

Don't Lose Your Watch

~ By Duncan Haughey

Blue and silver sports wristwatch

Does your organisation know what it knows? Have you come across a situation where your organisation appears to favour expertise from consultants more than its employees? As the joke says, a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time, and then keeps your watch.

In my experience, this is not unusual and is both baffling and frustrating to the experts in your organisation. So why do knowledge and expertise play better from consultancies and consultants?

Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt. Employees that have been in the organisation a long time, building up a mine of expert knowledge, may find their superiors stop recognising their contribution. Consultants promise something new and unusual. However, your employees might be able to deliver the same or better at a lower cost.

Keeping your employees happy and engaged through recognition (not just reward) is important. Part of this recognition is using their skills and expertise. Dr Bob Nelson, co-founder of Recognition Professionals International, summed up the result from a lack of recognition for employees when observing, that people may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.

Having said that, consultants do have their part to play. They bring a fresh approach and perspective to a project. So before handing your project over to a consultancy, it's worth thinking about how you will both work together.

Working with Consultancies

Consultancies often stick to what they know, and not what the client knows and does well. This approach can lead to an increase in different systems and processes along with associated running costs. Many consultancies don't like the constraints of existing guidelines, processes and systems.

When working with consultancies, consider the areas of expertise you have in-house, and what areas the consultancy needs to provide. How will these work harmoniously?

It's important to set clear goals, guidelines and boundaries with consultancies from the outset. This advice may sound glib, but often gets neglected in preference to getting on with the work. For example, you may wish to manage the project and have consultancy resources working for your project manager. Alternatively, you may want the consultancy to take on the project management for you. Whichever it is, make sure there are clear and agreed on roles and responsibilities from the start.


Don't neglect your employees; they have a wealth of knowledge and ideas for new innovative products, improved services, strategies for saving money and much more. Successful organisations mine this information and put it to good use. Next time you're thinking of engaging a consultancy, think again, your employees may have the answers you seek.


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