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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 

#699: Does Your Title Really Matter?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 17, 2011
Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2011
Some of my consulting colleagues head up small or solo consulting practices. Between them, they are President, Principal, Managing Partner, Chair, Executive Consultant, CEO, CXX (any number of "creative" titles), or no title at all. Does any of this matter?

To whom?

These titles are important in a large firm to differentiate between various executive, management and staff jobs. It helps outsiders know which roles and responsibilities an individual has. HR departments use these to describe a job to applicants. Inside a firm, it helps define accountabilities, and who gets what size office. Certainly if your business is related to the Internet or marketing, there has been an arms race in creative job titles.

For a solo or boutique firm consultant, this boils down to what your ego needs and what makes your mother proud. It really doesn't make any difference what you call yourself. Clients are hiring you for your expertise, perspective, skills and behaviors, not because you are CEO or President or Grand Poobah.. I've heard more than one client express some disdain in reaction to a consultant whose business card reads "CEO and Chairman" when they are a one-person firm or "Managing Partner" in a ten-person firm.

Tip: Call yourself whatever you like, but know that it is mostly for your own benefit.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  goodwill  professionalism  reputation 

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#698: Consultants Should Still Dress for Success

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2011
This may sound like a stupid question, but there are times I feel overdressed for meetings at my client's office. Every Friday is a "casual dress day" and there are some people who never wear a suit and tie or nice dress, including the CEO. Can I dress professionally and still be "overdressed"?

It seems that every generation goes through this question of how to "dress for success." There are plenty of books written and classes offered to help you select and dress "appropriately." Yes, there are even consultants whose practice centers around advising others how to dress for the job. Some consulting firms, in effect, have a "uniform" that supports their brand - either suit and tie or business casual, depending on the markets they are in, and they always dress in this style. Others are more flexible, letting individual consultants tie their dress to that of the client.

There are a few basic rules about how to approach this. The first is that this is about you and not your client. Regardless of what the dress rules are for your client, what kind of image do you want to project? What makes you comfortable and what do you want your dress to say about you? Dress or pantsuit? Sport coat or three piece suit? "Power tie" or no tie? You don't have to match the dress of your client (especially if each of your clients vary) - pick a style that works for you.

A second rule is addressing occasions that call for attire other than the office standard. For example, if you are invited to a company social or sporting event where causal dress is called for, you can dress casually. Casual, however, does not mean sloppy. Have a set of casual clothes specifically assembled for such events, don't just throw together whatever.

Tip: Select your clothes from a one or two sources that fit your style and budget and stick with them. This will help you create "brand continuity" and make sure your attire is not an issue of note. The bottom line is that your dress not be a distraction from what you are there to do - deliver services.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  business culture  client relations  customer understanding  goodwill  professionalism 

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#680: Capture the Essence of Your Consulting Session

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, October 21, 2011
Updated: Friday, October 21, 2011
I do a lot of facilitation and think I have worked out a good process to summarize the activities and outcomes of the sessions. I am always looking for an edge to improve the long term effectiveness of my facilitation. Any ideas?

We are all familiar with how quickly the memory and effect of these sessions can dissipate. People are brought together, who often may not know each other or know them well, and are expected to sustain a connection with each other and the outcomes of their work. By its very nature, this is a hard expectation to meet.

Our typical work product is a briefing to the client and some kind of written report. You probably know best what kinds of improvement within the facilitation process itself will work best for your clients, but here is an idea to strengthen the connection of participants to each other and to the outcomes. Take pictures of the event, including the setting (especially if it is an offsite event), the work room, facilitation teams, and even non work moments (meals, social time). Use a high resolution camera, not your camera phone. Make sure every participant is represented and that you can identify each of them. These can form the basis of a visual record of the event that significantly exceeds the impact or longevity

Tip: Create a picture book of the event, maybe even with commentary or quotes from the participants. There are many online services Blurb, Picaboo, Shutterfly and others) to which you can submit your photos and they will print up a book that you can provide to your clients (or all participants, if appropriate). With the price of print on demand decreasing in the past few years, this is becoming easier and cheaper. For less than $40, you can deliver an incredible memento for your clients (including a photo of you that will help them remember you even more). This will be an effective reminder of their work and something they likely haven't received from any other facilitator.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  consulting process  creativity  facilitation  goodwill  recordkeeping 

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#673: Who Will Respect Consultants if We Don't Respect Ourselves?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The seemingly increasing publicity of ethical and/or criminal activities by consulting firms (e.g., false payments, kickbacks, insider trading, conflict of interest, plagiarism) is unsettling for a profession I have been proud to represent. Is this just more publicity or have the standards of the profession declined?

As with many newly discovered "trends,” it is always hard to tease out what part is actual change, an increase in reporting, or increased sensitivity to the news itself. Take the recently reported increase in domestic violence in a particular ethnic group that was commonly to be rare behavior. It turns out the increase, rising to the same levels as for other ethnic groups, was only due to newly available language-capable case workers. The "crisis" in the community was just a correction in reporting.

It is true that a lot of books have been published about unseemly behavior in management consulting firms. These authors pick on the larger firms because the stories are more spectacular. However, with greater scrutiny of corporate management, stiffer penalties and greater mobility among executives at consulting firms, it is logical to have greater visibility of such activities. As with any professional services firm, the pressures are high to sell more work to current clients, prove the value of that work, and to create opportunities to provide your services in new markets.

What has changed are the business models of consulting. What once was a relationship business in reality has become less of one today. Clients increasingly look for specialized expertise, lower cost and shorter term engagements and, because of greater migration of client executives, have less loyalty toward a particular consulting firm. This creates incredible pressure to step closer to the ethical line than ever before. As Ethics Officer of IMC USA, I hear more allegations of impropriety than in the past. In reality, however, it is a testament to the ethics and professionalism of many consultants that there are as few of these transgressions as there are.

I don't have empirical proof that consultant behavior is worse than it has been in the past, but the conversation about consultants has definitely coarsened over the past few years - both among clients and consultants. It is uncomfortable to hear executives say that they spent millions of dollars for a prestigious firm's services that left them with nothing of value. However, what is really troubling are conversations among consultants that disrespect colleagues, other firms or the profession. Take a series of consulting cartoons by James Sanchez called Big Consulting. While clever and painfully true, they make light of consulting firm compensation, disrespect for associates, questionable client relationships, and of highly unethical practices. Laughing at yourself is healthy, but crosses the line when it poses unethical behavior as funny.

Tip: Management consulting is a respectable profession but only deserves the respect we are willing to give ourselves. Let's use our intelligence and self-respect to promote excellence and ethics in our chosen field and treat our colleagues, our competitors, and particularly, our clients and communities, with the respect they deserve.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consulting colleagues  ethics  goodwill  professionalism  publicity  reputation  trends  trust  values 

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#667: Cell Phone Manners

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2011
The great thing about texting is that I can stay in touch with people even when I am in a meeting without interrupting anything. Isn't this better than taking a cell call?

The message you send (and I mean the one to your client, colleague or others with whom you are meeting, and not the text message) is that they are easily demoted to lower importance by anyone else who happens to want your attention. Most people feel the same way about being bumped by a text message as being told by someone with caller notification who says, when beeped in the middle of a call, "oh, just let me see who this is." The message is that whatever we are talking about is so unimportant that, even though I don't know who is on the line, I'd rather be talking to them.

The same applies to texting, even though it is less obvious. If you know you are likely to be interrupted with an emergency message (e.g., waiting for word from the hospital) then announce this in advance to the person or group you are meeting with, just as you would with an expected incoming phone call. If you must make or receive a text, excuse yourself from the room while you do it. Just because it does not involve conversation does not mean that it does not interrupt or annoy others.

Tip: The good thing about cell phones is that you can turn them off when you are in a meeting or talking with someone else. Giving them your undivided attention is just a matter of basic respect.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  goodwill  meetings  reputation  technology 

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