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(Contributed by Debbie Pasha – Debbie is a Manager & Co-owner of The MBMI Companies, LLC and manages local political campaigns and civic affairs projects in the U.S. for the Maximized Brand Marketing division.)                                        

The MBMI Companies are privileged in that our enterprises provide support and guidance to a vast number of interests. One of our favorites is the work we do with political organizations.

Tuesday night’s Democrat Party Presidential Debates on CNN gave us a chance to sit around the table over pizza and beer and poke some fun at the talking heads. It also provided us with a thought starter that we want to share with you.

Is your business better off employing a strong local manager or a great consultant?

We admit that we are a bit biased because our business involves a team of some of America’s best broadcast, hotel, restaurant, local political and safety consultants. But from 40,000 feet, here is the way we see it:

Most of the companies with which we work cannot afford to employ both a great local management team and a strong consulting team. It is simple economics for the most part, but it also goes deeper.

Economics aside because those are self-evident, let’s discuss the real world result possibilities of a political campaign that chooses to hire a great consultant and a strong campaign manager.

First, they’re going to disagree on the hierarchy of importance regarding projects. The local campaign manager will see local issue response, team mentoring, daily tasks like putting out campaign signs and neighborhood canvassing, as the priority items.

A seasoned consultant will be more concerned about massaging donor lists, maintaining image to cash flow, the advertising pool burn rate and overall organizational strength as the issues that matter most.

While seemingly complimentary activities from both parties, one will eventually take the backseat to the other, and with those choices come animosity, organizational failures and task drops.  None of these is helpful to a successful campaign. Nor are they desirable results for business.

This does not mean that a strong manager cannot co-exist with a great consultant, though. It simply means that objectives, power barriers, and sense of importance is instilled in both positions. Whether a company works with our broadcast consultants, content teams, advertising and product marketing specialists, researchers, security or political experts, or some combination thereof, we’re excited about showing you how you can enjoy the best of both worlds for the benefit of your organization.

While the depth of the undertaking is significant, in business or politics, working as a team is more important today than ever before.

To help you decide your best course of action, we offer 5 Steps to Successful Co-Existence of Consultant and Manager:

  1. Manager and Consultant Design Plans Together – Once the decision is made to bring aboard a consultant, immediately blend both quarterbacks. Task the duo with creating the organizational structure or a plan to work within the one that currently exists.
  2. Set Rules – It’s YOUR organization and it is appropriate for you to set the parameters that will guide the consultant and manager in their dealings with each other…because you may be the one who has to decide who to fire down the line. The rules should clearly define the role of each person and how you expect one to interact with the other.
  3. “Co-Bosses” Are Off-Limits.  When Gerry Ford wanted to be Ronald Reagan’s “Co-President,” the benches almost cleared. People in your organization need to know which boss’s needs are the priorities.  If a worker answers to two bosses, that message could be muddied. In the initial design planning, make sure that it is clear to whom each person will answer as a primary report.  This also means that both the consultant and local manager must constantly remind and clarify their roles. It also means that there will be no power grabs or back biting.
  4. Set Performance Objectives. Weak organizations are those that exist in a vacuum or in the absence of actual vision of what a win looks like.  Make sure that your organization avoids such an issue by creating performance thresholds that the manager or consultant may easily convey to their charges.
  5. Hold Frequent Meetings Together with Both Parties. This is the old ‘trust but verify.’ Every issue is more easily discussed and power struggles are more easily avoided when there is expected accountability at the hands of the ‘Big Boss’ on a regular basis. 

Let’s agree that every business and campaign needs all the objective and positive input it can gather.  Now let us help you put it in order for your next winning venture.  Your team will be more responsive and generate greater results. Like the old saying, “Two heads are better than one providing one of those heads is from The MBMI Companies.”