Flawless Consulting

Flawless Consulting petter block. awesome summary by ebookhike

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Author: Peter Block 

The key is inside(Work without fear)

Flawless Consulting:A consultant is a person whose task is to change the situation for the better, without having the authority to directly change. This is the main difficulty of counseling. The consultant can make recommendations to solve the problem, but cannot order the client to use them. 

And yet the consultant can influence the client and achieve the goal. It is able to increase its usefulness, increase the rate of application of recommendations and be a conduit for positive changes in the business. Flawless consulting is a technique that allows you to use the possibilities of consulting to the maximum and helps to manifest the professionalism that exists in everyone. 

The consultant has a powerful tool at his disposal, which is precisely under his control – this is his own behavior and strategies for involving the client. Peter Block reveals step by step how to manage your behavior and use what you know, feel or experience to make every consultation as effective as possible. And this is something that is available to everyone, Peter Block is sure. 

The key to excellent counseling is within you. You can’t just be yourself and still be a successful consultant. Authenticity is what is needed for flawless consulting.

Strive for perfection

You are an excellent consultant if you:

  • an expert in their field;
  • be sincere in expressing your feelings, thoughts, and needs;
  • focused on fulfilling the requirements of each stage of consulting;
  • strive for the client to learn how to solve problems like the one with which he turned to you.

Three Skills for Excellent Consulting

Technical skills – project management, marketing, finance, systems analysis, human resources, etc. are needed to be competent in the issue under discussion and understand what the client is talking about. 

Interpersonal Skills – Self-confidence, ability to be supportive, listen, argue constructively and work in a team. 

Consulting skills – understanding the requirements of each stage of consulting and the ability to go through them (conclude agreements, hold meetings, collect and analyze data, etc.).

Build relationships with the client

There are four interpersonal aspects of building a relationship between a consultant and a client that are important to pay attention to responsibility, feelings, trust, and the consultant’s own needs. 

1. Responsibility. Share responsibility with the client. Don’t act like a surrogate manager – don’t take direct responsibility. In most cases, this is what the client expects, so your goal is to demonstrate that the solution to the problem is shared between you 50/50. Only by sharing responsibility with you, the client can learn to solve similar problems in the future on their own. 

If you undertake to determine which positions will disappear and which will remain, you gain power, but you are doing the manager’s job, not yours. 

Flawless Consulting

2. Feelings. Be aware of your feelings and be aware of the extent to which the client is able to be aware of theirs. What you feel when you interact with a customer is likely to be felt by people in the organization. 

3. Trust. Avoid the image of an expert and a person to beware of. The more distrust is expressed openly, the more likely you are to build a trusting relationship.

Ask directly if the client believes that you will maintain confidentiality and are not here to judge them and seize power.

4. Your own needs. You have the right to have your own needs met. Even in a consultant-client relationship. These may be, for example, access to people and information, support for the manager when meeting people and encountering resistance, time schedules, the ability to use innovations. 

Be sincere

Sincerity is what ensures the client’s trust and your influence. Clients are people, and they make the decision to start working on a project, choose a consultant, follow his recommendations, guided, among other things, by feelings. Can you be trusted? Do you treat the position and personality of the client with respect?

Be direct about what you feel, think, or need. If you don’t speak up, the client won’t know what you’re worried about.

The client says that he has important things to do, and no matter how much he wants to, he cannot devote much time to you, and sends him to the secretary for all possible help. In addition, he emphasizes that his people have a lot of work and you should not take their time. The consultant feels unimportant and small, as if his job is an insignificant matter. In this situation, it is sincere to indicate that the client treats the project as a minor matter, and you would like him to consider it important. Insincere – trying to increase your importance by pointing out the importance of the project, its prospects, etc.

Flawless Consulting

Conduct yourself according to your beliefs. Everyone has beliefs and assumptions about what makes an organization effective. In any case, they affect your work. Be aware of them and don’t let your behavior contradict them. 

You recommend to the client to expand the circle of people involved in decision-making, while you yourself tightly control your consulting projects and do not involve clients in joint work. How much credibility will your recommendations inspire if you don’t follow them yourself?

Work with resistance

No matter how clearly and logically the consultant presents his ideas, no matter how they meet the interests of clients, practice shows that clients still resist accepting the experience and following the consultant’s advice. But the client is not resisting you. The nature of the client’s resistance is emotional. The faces of resistance can be different – the origins are the same. This is a natural reaction to the difficulties experienced by the client.

Eight signs of customer resistance:

  1. Demands more and more information and details – or, conversely, overwhelms the consultant with details that are not relevant to the problem. 
  2. He refers to being busy and demonstrates a lot of things to do, answering calls and interrupting every person who looks in the door. 
  3. Emphasizes that the organization lives in the real world and faces real problems. 
  4. Continues to talk about his confusion and incomprehension after several explanations. 
  5. Constantly theorizes on the topic “Why is everything so” instead of discussing actions.
  6. Suddenly belittles the seriousness of the problem or even claims that it has been exhausted. One way or another, the problem is no more, and the services of a consultant are not needed. 
  7. He is silent and does not show any reaction – or agrees on everything, saving his remarks.
  8. Directly comes: allows insulting words, shouts.

How to deal with resistance

Don’t take it personally. When you take resistance personally, you firstly start fighting it, and secondly, you fight the wrong dragon. If you are prone to self-criticism, postpone the analysis of what you did wrong until the time when you are not near the client. 

When you are unable to stop taking the client’s words and actions personally, you cannot work through that resistance. But do not overdo it: admit and correct the mistakes that you really made.

Make the resistance explicit. The job of the counselor is to help the client express their fears and concerns directly and completely. When fears and worries are expressed, tension usually subsides.

Go through all the stages 

Any consulting project includes five stages: 

  • conclusion of an agreement; 
  • data collection and analysis; 
  • feedback and decided to act; 
  • involvement and implementation (the main stage, but its success is laid in the previous stages);
  • completion (either extension or repetition). 

Each stage has its own requirements, without which it is impossible to move on. Otherwise, unfinished business will pop up again and again, depriving you of rest.

Negotiate and Negotiate

The agreement is not a legal contract, but an agreement between you and the client about what you expect from each other and how you intend to work together.

The strength of the agreement depends on the existence of mutual benefits. Remember that you have the right to have your needs met and don’t underestimate them. Break your wishes into two groups. The main wishes are a mandatory minimum, without which it is better not to take on a project. 

Abandon the project if there is not at least 50% confidence in the success of the project. Aspirational needs are things that you think can make a project more effective, but you know you can do well without.

An agreement meeting is a demonstration of your working style. And you can answer customer questions about your approach in this way. How the agreement meeting goes shows how the consulting project will develop. Be mindful of the difficulties you face.

You cannot enter into an agreement with someone who is not present at the meeting. Your clients are the people who set project goals, approve project activities, and receive reports on your work. You should at least try to meet with each of them, even if they are the highest-level leaders. This will help you to know their goals and attitude towards what you have planned right away, and not somewhere in the middle of the project.

Make three- and even four-party agreements. If you are an internal (in-house) consultant and you need to meet the client’s requirements and at the same time follow the priorities of your consulting group, include your manager in the process of negotiating the agreement. 

If you are working with a client whose manager has booked a consultation, the latter should also be included in the agreement. 

Once again, the main thing is to be sincere

When making suggestions, be realistic. You can only promise real improvements if the client takes 50% responsibility.

If you promise to get the device up and running in three days and there will be no problems with it after that, you are promising something that you cannot control.

Flawless Consulting

You can only promise to bring the device to working condition within a certain period of time. Further maintenance of its performance depends on the client, which is worth paying attention to.

Flawless Consulting

Watch for energy and reps. If during a meeting to make an agreement, the energy drops, you get annoyed or yawn and explain something for the third time, it means that you are stuck and the process of making an agreement is bogged down. Recognize that you are at a dead-end, follow the pattern and work with resistance. 

Once an agreement is reached, ask for feedback. Find out if the client really wants the project to take place, and how satisfied he is with the agreements reached. This will allow you to be immediately aware of further difficulties if the client is acting under duress. It will also force the client to take responsibility for starting a project without fully supporting it.

Renew the agreement as many times as needed. A project, like everything in the world, is subject to change: a new manager has been added, a budget has been cut, research points to new problems, or a client has begun to treat you differently. If you feel that your role has changed, discuss it with the client. Ideally, immediately, but better late than never. 

Looking for the real problem

Create your perception of the problem. The difficulties that the client describes are not yet a real problem. Most likely, he could not solve it, because he could not see the whole picture. As you collect and analyze data, look for what has gone unnoticed. 

At a large tech company, first-line executives decided that turnover was due to low wages and the high cost of housing in the area. Therefore, the payment system was adjusted and a department was created to help with the search for housing at reasonable prices. But a year and a half later, the problem not only did not disappear, but even intensified. Then internal consultants were involved in solving the problem.

A survey of first-line managers and young workers showed other reasons: a lack of attention, support and feedback from direct management. All the training of new employees was reduced to the study of lengthy job descriptions. And department heads simply didn’t have enough time for new hires because of the pressure from above to stick to the plan. As a result, the young staff simply did not understand their prospects in this company. When these issues were resolved, staff turnover decreased.

Flawless Consulting

Be a doctor whose treatment is based on lifestyle changes, don’t write a prescription for every complaint. As a rule, what remains unnoticed is how the problem was handled before: people’s attitudes, leadership style, the organizational and managerial climate in general. Identify hidden conflicts related to trust and transparency and point them out to the client. The key is to do it in a supportive, not a critical, manner. It is enough to provide a clear and simple picture of what is happening, without special recommendations.

Analyze the style in which the client works with you. This is a good clue what to investigate when determining how the problem has been managed

Explore any problem on three levels: perception of the problem itself, perception of the contribution of others to the problem, and perception of personal contribution to the problem. 

Focus on what the client can realistically change. Don’t do research for the sake of research. Do research for change. 

Trust your intuition. Don’t be afraid to choose research areas that you feel comfortable working with and rely on your vision. There is no single right way. You’ll know if there’s anything else to pay attention to just by continuing to listen. 

Formulate recommendations and give feedback

Decide for yourself what is important to voice to the client. Start from your understanding of the problem and be guided by the principles:

  • it is important for the organization;
  • this is really worth working on;
  • The client can change this.

Don’t forget support. If you have data that confirms what the client has been doing so far, include it in the report. 

But don’t collude by ignoring sensitive issues. Go for a confrontation if necessary. If the consultant avoids information that creates tension, then why does the client need a consultant?

Remember that a feedback meeting is not a trial. And you are not a judge, not a prosecutor, not a jury, and not a defendant. You are the ultimate witness. You are just talking about what you observed.

But don’t forget that you are in control of the meeting. Your goal is to engage the participants in the discussion, get them to take responsibility for the situation, achieve commitment to the decision and encourage them to act. 

10 steps in a feedback meeting:

  1. Reformulate the original agreement. 
  2. Formulate the agenda for the meeting. 
  3. Present the research data. 
  4. Ask the client about his reaction to the data.
  5. Ask the client about his reaction to the recommendations. 
  6. In the middle of the meeting, ask the client if they are getting what they expected. 
  7. Make a decision to move on. 
  8. Check customer concerns. 
  9. Ask yourself if you got everything you expected. 
  10. Provide support. 

Involve in implementation

The implementation of change is based on the consent of those who govern, and not on the desire and capabilities of those who govern. Let go of the illusion that implementation is a rational process that can be clearly planned out in steps. You cannot plan how other people will act. Even the decisiveness of the leader will not be enough. Therefore, your task is to involve people in the implementation and create conditions for them.

Implementation meetings should serve as an example of declared changes. By how the meeting goes, people determine the plausibility of the proposed strategy. If the meeting does not initially involve the activity of the audience – those who will implement the changes – what kind of activity can we talk about during the implementation itself? In order for people to do everything possible for implementation, they must perceive this project as their own. And in order to perceive it as their own, they need a sense of real participation and influence on what is happening. Build meetings so that people can feel it.

Top 10 Thoughts

1. An important part of consulting is the relationship with the client. They require the consultant’s conscious attention as much as the problem to be solved.

2. Relationships are built on the basis of cooperation and sharing of responsibility. This maximally mobilizes the resources of both parties and allows the client to learn how to solve such problems on their own.

3. Relationships can be managed through your own behavior. Be sincere and live up to your beliefs. This will reduce customer resistance, increase trust, and provide you with influence.

4. The client’s resistance is only an indirect expression of his fears and worries. Don’t take it personally and help him express them directly.

5. The success of the main stage of the consulting project – implementation – is laid at the previous stages. Don’t skip them.

6. An agreement with a client can only be concluded on the basis of mutual benefit. You have the right to meet your own needs, and only the mutual exchange of something of value will give strength to the agreement.

7. You need to find the real problem – what went unnoticed by the client. Examine not only the problem itself but also how it was handled: people’s attitudes, leadership style, organizational and managerial climate in general. 

8. Feedback should support the client, but not exclude sensitive issues. To avoid information that creates tension, a consultant is not needed.

9. The implementation of change depends more on those who manage than on those who manage. Create conditions for clients and involve them.

10. Implementation meetings should be held in the spirit of the announced changes. This will give people a sense of real participation and influence on what is happening. TAKE THE TEST SHARE SUMMARY

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