How do you change the dynamics when you’ve been doing your client group managers’ work for them and now they need to transition into “self-service”? (The classic example of this is HR completing performance reviews on behalf of a manager for his team members.)
How does it feel when your client comes to you with a question or a complex problem and you are able to apply your expertise to provide them with a helpful solution before it’s too late?
All of these scenarios involve using and applying consulting skills.
Some people apply the skills more naturally than others. But consulting skills are discrete, specific knowledge skills and abilities which can be learned, practiced and applied over time. You definitely know them when you see them in action.
Some business partners in functions like Finance, IT or HR can put on a clinic regarding how to handle the situation when their client has come to the “wrong” conclusion or decision. Others go into panic mode and start firing off emails to cover their own trail because they are afraid they will be blamed.
Great resources on how to build and apply consulting skills include:
- Flawless Consulting by Peter Block
- The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford
- Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni
Whether you are early in your career or are a workplace veteran, everyone can learn from and/or be reminded of the best practices these authors articulate.
It all starts with building relationships with your clients. How you go about it can be accidental, or it can be deliberate. The more intentional you are about it, the more effective you will be in the long run.
Then you will be prepared for how to handle it when one of your clients says “no” or turns down something you’ve recommended or requested. The more experience you build in these kinds of situations, the less rattled you will be each time one of them arises. You will know which tools to apply, and how to navigate the relationship with your client so that it becomes stronger over time.