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Between 2005 and 2011, IMC published Daily Tips every weekday on consulting ethics, marketing, service delivery and practice management. You may search more than 800 tips on this website using keywords in "Search all posts" or clicking on a tag in the Top Tags list to return all tips with that specific tag. Comment on individual tips (members and registered guests) or use the Contact Us form above to contact Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Daily Tips author/editor. Daily Tips are being compiled into several volumes and will be available through IMC USA and Mark Haas.

 

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Top tags: client relations  communication  customer understanding  your consulting practice  marketing  consultant role  learning  client service  reputation  goodwill  consulting process  market research  practice management  sales  ethics  planning  client development  engagement management  innovation  proposals  professional development  professionalism  knowledge assets  prospect  trends  presentations  recommendations  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  product development 

#291: Your Role in Your Client's Ethics Climate

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 26, 2010
Updated: Monday, April 26, 2010
I keep reading about how ethics continues to be a good indicator for future corporate performance. As a consultant trying to improve performance, how could I work with a client to improve their ethical climate?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) released a survey of HR professionals that revealed that less than half of their companies included ethics as part of performance reviews. Most felt that they were not part of the ethics climate and were, instead, asked to clean up ethical messes after they occurred.

Only one in four surveyed said that their company had a comprehensive ethics and compliance program in place. The survey results make it clear that there is a role for management consultants to help support the fostering of both ethics processes and a climate where ethics is supported.

If you are an HR consultant, these results should be of concern to you - and a basis on which to act in your client's interest. If you are not, this would be an excellent opportunity to take these results to your client and discuss how you might help improve their overall treatment of ethics in the organization.

Greater levels of trust by and within a company speed up decisions and interactions, resulting in higher performance. Think about how fast a deal can be struck between two people who trust each other, compared to the months of due diligence and expense required when trust is absent.

Tip: Spend some time with the performance literature on the impact of trust on commerce efficiency and discuss this with your client. At a minimum, look over Steven M. R. Covey's The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything to give you a basis for your client discussion.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  ethics 

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#290: Presentation Disasters

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 23, 2010
Updated: Friday, April 23, 2010
I recently attended a seminar held by a fellow consultant. During the presentation, his computer ran out of batteries and he had forgotten his power supply. The material he was presenting to the group abruptly stopped and he was forced to continue the seminar without the benefit of his slides. Unfortunately, the rest of the seminar was not well received, as the presenter never truly recovered from losing his material. What a nightmare!

A/V problems occur, and when they do, it's better to be in the audience than leafing through the projector manual and fielding "helpful" suggestions from the audience. This is classic risk management - making sure the worst case doesn't happen.

First, be able to walk through your material without the A/V. If you understand the material well enough, even with a few notes to make sure you cover all items, then you will not miss a PowerPoint "crutch."

If that's not possible, always test the computer and projector in advance with a dry run. Go through the list of failsafe items: your power supply, laser pointer, three pronged adapter plug (the $0.50 part that could save the day), a flash drive with a copy of your presentation. If possible, make sure there is an extra projector and/or computer available just in case. Always bring a paper copy of the presentation with you and, if possible, some handout copies for the audience.

Don't panic. This can be as uncomfortable to the audience as it is to you. Finish your thought with confidence and then decide how to proceed. If a hardware change is necessary and possible, calmly ask for a short break to make the switch. If you are prepared for what to do in these circumstances in advance, it should be as simple as executing your plan for continuing your presentation.

Tip: Even if you are ready to restart, this doesn't mean the audience is. Even a few minute break can bring the mood and attention of the room to a dead stop. The sign of a pro is, when you restart, to rewind your presentation a bit and review the few minutes prior to the event. Make sure the audience is in sync with you by summarizing the top few points of the presentation (your roadmap) and making sure everyone is back on board before you proceed. Given that you are in a break, this is a good time to offer to answer any questions. Your goal is to make it like it never happened.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  meetings  planning  presentations 

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#289: Picking up the Tab

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Updated: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Who picks up the bill when I have a meal with a client or a prospect?

There are many factors that add complexity to determining who picks up the tab for a business meal including the number of attendees, the organizational stature of the attendees, host vs. guest, gender and cultural norms, etc. Be cognizant and sensitive to these factors.

Here's a simple rule of thumb: If you did the inviting, you should expect to take responsibility for the check.

If there are multiple attendees or if this is joint meeting involving a number of different parties, it is perfectly appropriate to ask when scheduling the meal (or at the very beginning) about the possibility of splitting the check. Waiting until the check arrives to discuss the possibility of splitting the check can cause unnecessary anxiety among the attendees and a potential inconvenience for your server.

Also, if you have invited a colleague to lunch or dinner in order to obtain information or valuable insight, it is always proper for you to pick up the tab. Remember to follow-up this type of meeting with personal "thank you" note.

Tip: Be sensitive and aware of the various factors surrounding who is "expected" to pick up the tab, but when in doubt, err on the side of picking up the tab or at least not hesitating to pick up the check first to see how the other party responds. Be especially cautious about the appearance or fact of a conflict of interest when, as a consultant, you are dining with a prospect or client. In these cases, it is always best to discuss the issue openly. This is not the time to be embarassed about being ethical.

P.S. Remember that taking care on how you handle the other party's kind gesture of picking up the tab is equally important (e.g. "Next time is on me," or "The next time you find yourself in [my town], I insist that I pick up the tab."

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  ethics  goodwill 

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#288: Getting Some Quick Consulting Work

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I just got started in consulting and am looking to jump-start my practice. I am willing to do all the things you've been suggesting, but I need some immediate cash flow or I won't make it. Any ideas?

Here are three suggestions that might help:
  1. Go to your largest prospect(s) (or industry association) and offer to do a study/analysis for them, one that they would find valuable and offer to do it at whatever they would be willing to pay. Don't negotiate. Get them to agree the study/analysis might be valuable and show them why you are uniquely qualified to do this and that the fee can't be a problem since they will set it.
  2. Offer to put together a unique seminar for your field and ask for a one-time development fee, and reasonable fees for presenting it, granting the sponsor co-ownership of the IP (intellectual property).
  3. Send a letter to your top ten prospects and make them an offer they can't refuse, i.e., delivering results or your fee is zero.
The focus here is results that these prospects feel are credible based on the way presented and your background. Don’t forget: these are very short-term strategies and you should let the recipients of your communications understand the rationale, i.e., you are just getting started and willing to do this now. Later they will be standing in line (if you do all the smart things we suggest, and you come up with and deliver results for clients).

Tip: This is a great test of your consulting services' market value. However, make sure you circle back to confirm whether your clients felt that they got their money's worth. Many will pay you want you and they negotiated but you might be pleasantly surprised to hear that you were worth more than they paid. Who knows, they might even be willing to change the payment to something closer to the value received.

P.S. This may also work well in slow times for etablished consultants.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  proposals  prospect 

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#287: Consulting Sabbaticals

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I was thinking of taking a sabbatical from my consulting practice. Any tips on how to best do this without going totally out of business?

Literally, a sabbatical (derived from "Sabbath") means ceasing work, form months to a year or more. Especially in a tough consulting economy (which lags the business sector by about six months), it is not clear whether your intent is to take advantage of the current slowdown to tackle other priorities or to just take time off to wait out the storm. In either case, here are some general thoughts on how to take a sabbatical
  1. Are we talking a few months or a year?
  2. Are you planning to stay in your current location or travel?
  3. Do you intend to have the same clients when you return or seek new ones? This affects how you handle communications at the beginning of your leave.
  4. Why are you taking a sabbatical? In other words, how will you measure whether the leave was successful? This affects how well you plan and execute the leave - is there a goal to achieve or is this just a "getaway."
  5. Are you preparing for a new career, business start-up? This affects the level of planning required prior to the leave.
  6. Do you plan to continue to serve clients at a much reduced level? This affects how much support you may need to retain your business while on leave.
  7. Is your family on board with the idea of your new activities (or lack of consulting)? Perhaps the most important question is how your plans affect others.
Tip: Communicate early, fully, clearly with clients and prospects. Be flexible: you may want to return sooner. It's not all or nothing necessarily. With today’s technology, you can serve clients from a remote island. This may mean advising clients in a different way, and this may even be more effective that you have come to practice. Stay in touch even on a pure personal basis with a weekly or monthly communiqués, as long as this communication itself does not compromise the objective of the sabbatical.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting lifestyle  planning  your consulting practice 

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