Monday, August 22, 2011

Consultancy Skills

Consultancy Skills Day 2 & 3

As the 2nd day approached we got more insights about consultancy. Consultancy is not only required in professional but also for personal life. How to help somebody with advice how to discover the true problem? However during our whole three session I had one doubt lingering on my head, we dealt with all aspects of client consultant relationship and simulated situations about client and a consultant would behave but we dealt very little on how a consultant will sell a proposal to a client? There are different style of consultancy depending on how consultant perceives and how he wants the relation with his clients. First category of consultants are those who thinks themselves as experts and offers advice to the line manager but don’t involve themselves with the decision making process and often don’t collaborate with line managers. As a result, the solutions provided are superficial and do not solve the problems on a long term. Second are those who become a ‘pair of hands’ to the line manager. This type of relation is sometimes difficult to maintain even though the consultant is entitled to provide solutions. This is not the win-win situation expected out of a consulting assignment because consultant in this method works as a “surrogate manager”. Third is the best practice followed by consultants i.e collaborative method in which both client and consultant are 50/50 relationship. This is a win-win relationship.
Depending on whether the problem exists or not consultant can categorize it in 3 ways:
•    The problem does not exist: The consultant should convey this to the client in a polite manner that actually there isn’t any problem.
•    The problem exists but cannot be solved: Here, the consultant should make the client understand that the problem cannot be solved and should provide a valid explanation for it.
•    The problem exists and can be solved: The consultant should solve the problem.
For a consultant rephrasing the problem and asking appropriate question is a vital task to get into the roots of the problem and then thinking about finding the possibility of weeding out the problem.
In a client meeting, the consultant should ask 3 things to the client:
•    Redefine the problem
•    How others are contributing to the problem
•    How he is contributing to the problem
Giving a genuine feedback to the client is another important activity. The consultant should be conscious enough on how to give the client feedback. The consultant should follow appreciative enquiry and then follow with the set positive and negative feedback in a tentative manner so as not to hurt client in the process. Should bring out specific instances were the client he felt might be helped.

Our most important take away: “Gain to a company should not be at the cost of loss to the society”,

On our last session:
Anil Sachdev mentioned for a consultant being authentic is most important and it means bringing forward the actual issues without any manipulation. It is important from the point of view that a consultant must make a client trust him. Being authentic builds a relationship, which will help the consultant understand the need and requirements of the client.
As committed by Anil Sir, we were to experience a live consulting case of a reputed company R, who wanted rebrand their company. We were briefed about the situation earlier. One of our colleagues represented the consultants end to the client. The consultant had to work with a line manager, who headed the change management department. The company operated in many diverse sectors and had a federal system of administration. As a result of office politics. And its often very difficult tobring in consensus in all line manager so that tasks can be started and implemented. Even in such a scenario it is important that the consultant be rooted to his/her values.
After that we had a role play session in which in teams of three, one person played the role of a consultant, another, the role of the client and the third person was the observer. We used the guest clients’ issue as our assignment and began the role-play.

In this entire session, we learnt that:
•    It is important to be yourself and be clear about who you are and what you stand for.
•    Give maximum attention to what the client wants while you are rooted in your values.
•    The best way for you to work with clients is to be seen as a person who goes out of way to help them and be genuine. Be careful in giving any short-term commitments that you cannot deliver.
•    No matter what the politics of the organization, never backbite anyone in the clients’ organization.
•    If you have made a mistake, have the courage to immediately own up and do not try to give excuses.
We are eager to take up live project and hopefully will do justice with it.

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