I’ve had some very nice clients bring me in to work with them in the last few months. They start with a clear idea of what they want from me. They might be taking a proactive approach – they see an issue on the horizon at work and want to deal with it before it becomes a full-fledged, takes-up-all-my-time kind of problem. Sometimes it’s ‘after the fact’ and the issue wasn’t dealt with and now it can no longer be ignored. They may not have the expertise, their organization may not have anyone who has the expertise, or the people they do have who might deal with this are already stretched too thin to take on any more initiatives.
Either way, they are now ready to act.
And then I go acting like a consultant.
Most clients (CEO’s, Executive Directors, Vice President’s, Directors, Managers, ‘in-charge-of-the-solution) want to get something done as close to when they make the call as possible. In this age of technological availability, they expect almost instant responses. I’d love to accommodate that goal but it wouldn’t serve either of us.
I start with questions:
- What are people not doing that you want them to start doing?
- What are people doing that you’d like them to stop doing?
- As a result of our working together – what are you hoping for in terms of outcomes?
It slows things down and that’s exactly my goal. I want to learn how the decision that training (or a clinic, presentation, seminar, workshop, retreat, one-on-one consulting) was the best answer for the situation. I want to learn what kind of chance there is for follow-up, performance management, support and feedback. I hope to hear what has already been tried and why it might have fallen short.
My goal is to be honest and supportive, helping my client achieve their goals. My role is to provide content, feedback, facilitation, learning, and support in an environment where people can develop more effective and efficient interpersonal skills.
Sometimes you have to go slow at the beginning to go fast down the road.
But if you start slowly, not only can you go faster later; you can cross the finish line.