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#180: Are You "Overconsulting"?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, November 20, 2009
Updated: Friday, November 20, 2009
There are times when a client won't take all of our advice. Not so much the type of advice but the amount, sometimes only wanting to do the "simple stuff" and not all the recommendations we developed. Should we push to get them to implement more?

There are two issues. First is about consultant and client roles. Your job as a consultant is diagnose a situation and to make recommendations. The client's job is to evaluate your findings and recommendations and choose to implement some or all, or none, of them. It is not your place to tell the client what they can and cannot do with your recommendations.

Second is the extent to which you accurately understand a client's ability to adopt your recommendations. The nature of your recommendations should be tailored to the client's capability to appreciate the difficulty of implementation and the implications of that implementation on the client organization. Just as recommending a course of action that insufficiently addresses a client need, so too can you "overconsult." Recommending something that is too complex, too expensive, unsustainable or requires more management skill than the client has is irresponsible.

Tip: This even borders on an ethical issue of professionalism with respect to your services. The social workers code of ethics states that social workers must protect the interests of clients who lack decision making capability. This means that if a client is unable to comprehend the recommendations or advice, the social worker must safeguard the interests and rights of those clients. Even recommending a course of action that is beyond the capacity of a client, or pushing a client to implement it when they can't, puts a consultant in a similarly questionable position.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  consultant role  customer understanding  engagement management  ethics 

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