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Communication, improving the Client-Consultant relationship

July 24, 2010

I was asked to describe a good consultant, using one word; the first word I thought of was integrity. As an afterthought therapist came to mind and then collaborator, expert, knowledgeable, facilitator, etc., the list goes on indicating that a good consultant cannot be described in one word. Giving this question a little more thought, my professional opinion is a good consultant presents himself as partner in the client-consultant relationship – a relationship of cooperation between the client and the consultant who agree to share responsibility for achieving a specific goal. Many factors need to be in place for this relationship to be advantageous, it begins with effective communication and the burden is on you, the Consultant, to bring it to the table.

The foundation of this partnership is communication.  Any type of partnership and proper consulting is a two-way process, both the client and the consultant need to be able to communicate with one another. Many will say “that’s easy”, truth be told, it’s not. We are people people, we cannot do our work in a vacuum; people change from gig to gig just like their habits and mind sets, thus does our ability to communicate in the same manner.  Effective communication is the result of listening to the client and understanding his environment, the reason why you are meeting, the parties involved and of course choosing the right words and tone.  Keep in mind there could be additional environmental factors that can impact your message and how it is received or not, such as corporate mergers and increased competition. The client-consultant partner relationship is dependent on two-way communication, within the last few years this paradigm has become more respected as managers have seen and began to understand the impact it has on the work effort and in identifying the needs of each party to be productive.

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