Are Business Owners ‘Intimidated’ or ‘Scared’ of Using Professional Consultants?

On the basis of a referal I was called in by a small (current turnover USD 12 mill) advertising agency, a few weeks ago to put in place a process & structure and assist them with recruitment and business planning. The company had just been awarded a huge contract. One that provides sustainable, long term (2years) revenue potential for the company to:

  1. jump to being a ‘mid-sized’ business organisation as well as
  2. move fully into the digital & social media segment (from the current traditional communication segment they have been in for the past decade).

The above two points were put on paper as key business objectives for the year.

As I started my initial days meeting the existing staff, understanding the current process & structure as well as assisting in managing in-coming work (more a flood of small communication based jobs), I noticed:

  • an acute amount of micro-managing (to the extent that the operations team is literally not having time to sit down and re-group/pause/or even breathe)
  • a continuous barrage of ‘directions’ to all staff (from the two owners)
  • jumping at the small jobs/activities (that the operational client teams are calling or sending out) but not looking at the bigger picture or any attempts at giving their client a strategic picture or plan.

So three weeks into this scenario, I decided to have a chat (with the owners) to understand if there was any possibilities of:
1) Getting them to “feel that the problem is them” i.e. their workstyle– micromanaging (as that’s what they are used to doing)
2) Getting them to understand that “ordering” is an archaic management style but allowing for responsibility brings more ‘ownership’ from the team
3) Getting them to clearly state if they can trust the operating team and not breathe down their necks.

Unfortunately the discussion, instead of being a practical, calm and positivly oriented veered off into being a very emotional one. The discussion left me quizzing myself on my role and if, in any way, my suggestions were intimidating or scaring the owners.

So I put this question on Linked In, (click the link here to see the discussion) to seek some advice and tips and to share it here on Benefit Point. It would be great to have comments and tips also here as I’m still in the midst of managing this project.