“Oh, I hadn’t thought about that.”

Have you ever found a solution to a nagging problem after talking it over with someone else? Ever had someone else’s point of view be just what you needed to solve a situation? Have you been better able to reach a goal after proclaiming the goal to a friend or spouse? Working through challenges with another individual enables us to see different points of view. Having someone we trust hold us accountable to our goals increases our likelihood of success. Hiring a productivity consultant can bring many important benefits, including new perspectives and increased accountability. The payoff is increased productivity. And, who couldn’t use more of that?

What Exactly Is a Productivity Consultant?

The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) explains that productivity consultants “support evaluation, decision-making, and action around time, energy, and resources, helping clients achieve desired outcomes regarding goals, effectiveness, and priorities.” Trained professionals are committed to leading individuals to the accomplishment of their goals. NAPO goes on: “They can offer you judgement-free assistance by breaking down overwhelming tasks, managing your time, decluttering your living and work spaces, and putting systems in place to help you be more productive and eliminate distractions.”

As a recent article in The HR Digest discussed, many successful business owners are wildly hungry for success. They will do “whatever it takes” to get the job done. However, oftentimes, their time is better spent on vision and strategy than on task-related activities. In the case of a start-up, leadership is better served getting the proverbial plane off the ground, not evaluating what hangar to park it in. Enter the productivity consultant.

Productivity consulting can take several forms. For example, the consultant might bring to light previously unseen assets available to accomplish a stated goal, improving efficiency. Or, they might vet out how two objectives are competing and deterring the overall success of an organization, becoming the starting point for needed change. Or, the consultant might take the client though a hard look at a track record of erratic or divergent business paths, enabling the leader to focus in on, and then stay on track for, success in an overall strategic vision.

Productivity Consultant Likened To a Trainer

When clients contact me I explain that hiring a productivity consultant is like hiring a personal trainer. Most of us know how to workout and use the weights and machines at the gym, but a trainer can hold us accountable. They will keep us on track and focused on the goal, overcoming excuses, distractions and slumps. People may pause at hiring a productivity consultant, reasoning they can research the applications themselves, or they can sort the paperwork on their own, or they can find a process or two to change.  However, what I do is keep them consistently accountable to their stated goals. Additionally, I’m going to be a neutral observer coming in to identify solutions they may not have thought of.  

The Benefits of Another Point of View

In each example outlined above, the productivity consultant is bringing to the table is a different point of view. Close knit organizations are especially at risk for diminished new or “novel” thinking. You might call it the downside to a stable, cohesive management team. The consultant can be the answer to the “We do it that way because we’ve always done it that way” phenomenon. Productivity consultants are neutral observers; they are not married to previously hard-fought battles. The consultants don’t have organizational territory they want to protect. They are seeing processes and procedures with fresh eyes.

The perspectives gained are as diverse as the situations are out there today in business. Through Organization and Productivity Consulting I’ve helped companies automate time-consuming tasks, freeing up valuable resources. I’ve also helped professionals break free from non-productive thinking cycles or ruts. A friend of mine worked with an executive consultant provided through his company for a period of six months as he transitioned from one functional area of executive leadership to another. He had inherited a new set of business objectives. And, he was directing a new group of employees. His new employees had been his collaborators. And, they had long-standing systems in place. He found the consulting to be invaluable.

The Value of Accountability

Webster defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” At its heart, accountability is a prerequisite for productivity. Leaders are able to hold employees accountability as part of their management. Consultants are able to hold leaders accountable. In fact, they can hold individuals at any level of the organization accountable to their goals.

Productivity consultants are trained to listen and analyze strategically in order to bring to light clear goals and values. Next, the consultant will track the progress of the individual’s work along their path to success. The accountability to goal completion drives the success.

What It’s Like Working With a Productivity Consultant

Productivity consultants work with clients in several different ways. The approach taken is always situation dependent. The first step in working with any consultant is to set out your goals and the expectations of the business engagement. This will naturally lead you and your consultant to the ideal ways of working together. Many consultants engage through a series of in-person and online sessions. Some, like me, will also meet with members from different levels within an organization to gain a wide view of the organization and management nuances impacting the professional. Others find a handful of sessions gives them what they need. Still others determine a long-term coaching-like relationship brings valuable, progressive improvement with ongoing accountability.

How Might Productivity Consulting Benefit You?

Do you have a process or organizational flow you’d like to see improved? Are there areas within your business where you have to cut costs but don’t see clearly how to make it happen? Have you thought hard and collaborated with your best, but still cannot find a satisfactory solution to a nagging issue? A productivity consultant may be just what you need to shed light on the current situation, provide new perspective and assist you in devising plans that will boost productivity and foster success.

Sara Genrich is a Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop.  She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.

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