Management consultants are professional advisors who are sometimes contracted to assess the current effectiveness of the management team of a specific company or other organization. The goal of the consultant is to assist the client in maximizing the use of skills and abilities currently present in the team, while identifying other abilities and talents that would help to enhance the effectiveness of the managers. In some cases, management consultants may be called in when there is a need for a temporary expansion of the existing management team and it would not be feasible to hire a permanent employee.
Developing or enhancing leadership skills is often at the core of what management consultants offer their clients. In the most basic form, the consultant will assess the collective skills of the current management team and make practical suggestions on how to reorganize the team in order to get the full benefit of those skill sets. At the same time, management consultants may recommend the merging of existing management positions or the creation of new ones in order to more efficiently manage the company. The idea is to help the client use current resources to best advantage, while also identifying and securing any other resources that may be required to allow the management team to successfully lead the company.
Along with evaluating and improving the management team, management consultants are sometimes called upon to contract with a client to step in and actually be a part of the team for a specified period of time. This is often the case when temporary situations either create a vacancy on the team or there is a short-term project that the existing team cannot spare sufficient time and attention to and still manage their other areas of responsibility. Generally, management consultants who offer this type of service will contract to devote a fixed number of hours per workweek to the client for a fixed number of months or years.
Management consultants may choose to focus on specific types of management needs in particular industries, such as retail, telecommunications, or other fields. Other consultants may possess a broader view of management development and offer their services to clients in a wide range of fields. It is not unusual for management consulting firms to employ consultants with both a broad range of skills that translate well into many client situations as well as consultants who are especially well versed in the management needs within specific industries.