As a consultant, it’s my job to give the advice that people don’t want to hear. When I am advising a company, they’ve brought me in for my outside perspective. Consultants spend a lot of time making sure that they are giving the advice that businesses need to do the right thing.  When it comes to businesses having to make tough decisions, a consultant needs to be there to remind them that you have to manage the business for the business. You are not managing the business for the people.

For example, you’ve missed your budget numbers. Maybe you need to make some hard decisions to make up for this money. It’s time to start laying off and trimming staff.  When you have to make those decisions, a lot of people get emotional.  People will go into these decisions with the mentality that someone has been there for twenty years so they should probably stay. Again, you have to manage the business for the business –you are not managing the business for the people. What is the right decision? It’s the one that benefits the business the most. It’s not personal; it’s business.

If it sounds heartless to you, that’s because it is heartless. The point is that it’s the right thing for a business. Think about promoting a specific person. Anytime you talk about promotions it should be based on the business and not the person. Don’t promote and make a spot for someone just because they’ve been there for a certain amount of time and they want to move up and make more money. Are they invaluable to the business? Are you promoting them because you want to utilize their skills in a better way or because you want to keep them at the company for the amazing benefits they bring? That’s another story.  If you are promoting a person just to appease them, you are doing it wrong.

Maybe you need to bring in some big, expensive talent. There may be times that you have to consider your business from the perspective of having to downsize in order to grow.  If you want to grow and need new talent to do so, you may have to make room in the budget to afford the more expensive talent by laying off existing employees. This is obviously a decision you should carefully weigh and consider. At the end of the day, you have to make the decision that most benefits the business.

These decisions are not the easy ones. When it comes to tough calls in business, you have to put the business first. It’s hard not to get emotional when dealing with people. This is especially true when you’ve developed a relationship with these people and have gotten to know them over the years. As ruthless as it sounds though, it’s just business.