Diary of a consultant – week 3; wants vs needs
And so, what’s different about week 3?
I’ve spent some time this week preparing for different client meetings and presentations and I’m reminded of one of the conversations with one particular client.
One of next week’s meetings is with two directors of a company I’ve been working with for a while. My first meeting started with “we need to manage our staff better, so we think we need a management workshop of some sort”. A couple of hours of questions and discussions later and I’d started to form a plan. So far, I’ve worked with 5 different people in the company, directors and senior managers, using psychometrics to help them understand their own styles and preferences better as well as understanding each other and their staff more. This was followed by individual coaching on areas they wanted to work on – chiefly communication and personal organisation, each of them having some different issues they wanted to address.
Next week’s meeting is a progress update and helping them to improve their communication skills, with some specific issues they want to discuss. The management workshop? Still not planned – whilst that’s what they thought they wanted, the more we’ve worked together, the more we’ve seen that, as each individual has worked on their communication skills, the better they’ve been able to manage their staff and the need for a management workshop has declined. That’s not to say there aren’t other areas they would like to develop and we still have some other areas to work on.
The interesting thing for me has been the ability to provide something which has really helped them move on – which is great to see as well – and that, with some discussion, the client has been happy to move away from what they thought they wanted to what has proved more useful to them. Not all client discussions work this way – by the time some businesses call in a consultant, of whatever discipline, they have done some of their own research, they know what they need and the consultant helps them deliver it in a way which suits their business. Others are fixed in what they want, even when they haven’t done much research, and aren’t open to new
suggestions. Many will just want a specific product or service.
Questions? When you work with a new consultant or adviser, how much time do you expect to spend discussing the wider business issues, before the consultant puts together suggested solutions? How open are you to new suggestions? When an external consultant starts to ask you questions, do you want them to already know a lot about your industry and business or like to work with someone who spends time asking lots of questions in order to understand YOU business / industry and relate their specialist experience to YOU?
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