When a client asks for a critique of some aspect of his or her personal style or other subject outside the scope of the engagement, how honest should I be? Or should I just recuse myself?
Is the point of your critique just to express your opinion or to provide some helpful suggestion? What if someone asked you to critique the Mona Lisa and you had never seen it before? What would you say? Too drab and dark? Not enough detail? Too simple? Background not relevant? Hands not positioned properly? The painting is completed so, in this case, you are just expressing your opinion. Of what good would your opinion be? In your client's case, he or she is asking for your input to possibly make an improvement.
Don't answer the question before you fully know what the issues are. Next time you are asked to critique something, consider what changes are even possible and how your input might or might not be helpful. Leave behind your opinion as to whether you like it or not (that wasn't the question) and instead ask for direction from your client on what kinds of supportive suggestions are needed and what kinds of changes are possible. If you are not in a position to provide a critique under these terms, then recuse yourself.Tip:
Too many consultants think that a critique means to criticize (in the pejorative sense). Use your consultant skills and make sure you understand the issues and complete a diagnosis before prescribing the "cure." © 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA