Consulting Skills Are Essential To Everyone
For sixteen years the professionals at Advance Consulting have been teaching our clients what we know. In turn, our clients have been teaching us. Every time we deliver a workshop, coach an executive, or provide a consulting skills development program, we go to school on our clients. We study their circumstances and challenges, as well as their innovation and creativity in transforming and growing their businesses. This constant learning enriches our experience and knowledge. It gives us a unique vantage point to witness extraordinary developments in the business world. From that perspective, this article explains why the need for enhanced consulting skills is so prevalent in business today.
An Extraordinary Time
Over the past several months we have shared, through our articles, our knowledge and perspectives around some of the more important developments in the business world today. To be sure, this is not a “normal” period. It is an extraordinary time. We have used the metaphor of the Perfect Storm to describe the unique circumstances in business today. Expanding on that, we have identified the pressures they cause, and the opportunities they present for us to grow, transform, and prosper in a turbulent environment.
This creates an unprecedented need for companies to focus on their two most important assets – their knowledge and their people. Knowledge and people will be the source of the innovation and adaptability that organizations need to survive in this environment.
Why Consulting Skills?
As we discussed in recent articles, we are witnessing a major shift in the circumstances surrounding organizations. These circumstances are adding tremendous pressure to the daily working lives of our people. Adding to the difficulty, all of this is happening at a time when we are looking to them to carry us through the storm. Our rapidly changing business environment is making work more uncertain. We are asking people to do more, do different things, and play different roles. Learning is constant. The need to show value quickly is always there. Customers expect results.
Consultants will tell you that, while the pressure is greater than ever, there is nothing terribly new about these circumstances. What we realize in all of this is that people in virtually all organizations today are facing the same conditions that consultants have faced for years. That is precisely why we need to help them acquire and enhance their consulting skills. Consulting skills are no longer the exclusive domain of consultants.
Why Enhanced Consulting Skills?
As with any discipline or knowledge domain, consultants and people who practice working consultatively tend to get more proficient over time. So we tend to see a greater depth of knowledge and experience among experienced consultants than we do among junior professionals. Because of that, our clients want to make sure that any consulting skills training made available to their people is equally relevant to both seasoned and junior professionals.
Secondly, the pervasive need for consulting skills means that these skills are being applied across more, and more disparate, business cultures and operations. In addition, these skills must be understood and utilized by people working in a wide variety of jobs and functional areas.
These market demands are characteristic of one of the three storms the make up the Perfect Storm – Segmentation. Essentially, the market has segmented itself all the way down to the individual customer, and they all want custom solutions.
So while we at Advance Consulting work with organizations to heighten their awareness around the affects of the Perfect Storm, we also find ourselves in it. Our clients are demanding custom solutions. Listening to the voice of our customers, we recognize that enhanced consulting skills are skills personalized to the individual. They must relate to their circumstance, and their experience level in their particular profession.
The trick in this situation is to figure out what parts of our products and solutions should be the same for every client, and what parts should be customizable to the individual client and participants. In our case, how do we make sure our consulting skills training is strong at its core and relevant across all experience levels, industries, jobs, cultures, and operational models? This was the challenge we tackled in our new revision to our Consulting Skills Workshops and Consultant Development Programs.
Skills Corner: Tips for Working Smart
Providing Coaching and Feedback
Providing effective feedback is an art. Handled correctly, it can build relationships, enhance performance, and increase morale. Handled poorly, it can be demoralizing, ineffective, and destructive. The art of giving good feedback depends on your ability to observe specific behaviors and then provide specific feedback about what you have observed. It also requires forethought and planning.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you are required to give coaching and feedback about someone’s performance:
- Be specific.
- Look for opportunities to give positive feedback to motivate.
- Separate feedback about positive behaviors from feedback designed to improve performance (eliminate “but”).
- Talk about improvement opportunities for “next time”.
- Make sure the timing and setting are right.
- Build feedback opportunities proactively into regular, routine interactions.
Find out how we can help your team develop its coaching and feedback skills by visiting our Consultative Coaching and Feedback page.