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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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#155: How Do Things Even Get On Your "To-Do" List?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, October 16, 2009
Updated: Saturday, October 17, 2009
Is anyone else overwhelmed with client service, family, business development, community participation, practice management, sleep and carving out time for one's self? Sure, time management suggestions help, but how do I shrink the list?

Maybe the answer lies inside the question itself. We all have "to-do" lists that can get pretty large sometimes. The question may not be how to work faster and more efficiently to whittle down the list, but how to keep things from getting on the list in the first place.

Take a look at the list you have now. If you have multiple lists, lay them out in front of you, or consolidate them. Now consider each goal you have for yourself for the coming year or two (e.g., family, business, health, spiritual growth). Rank each list task by what goal it serves and whether this activity delivers long term or short term value. Finally, for each goal, check off the tasks that were not ones that you generated yourself. How many tasks made it onto your list as requests from others? Are these dominating your list, and are they more important than ones you have placed on your list?

Tip: It may be even more important to make sure we are not unnecessarily inviting things to go on the list. We often add to our lists because we have an idea for something we'd like to do or think we should do. However, we do not often enough take time to compare it to other items on our list or that could be on our list for a given goal. Both before adding tasks and frequently afterward, review your tasks by goal and reorder and allocate time relative to how effectively they will reach some goal. Be particularly ruthless about tasks imposed by others that really don't advance you toward your goals. It is OK to remove tasks that really don't belong there.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting lifestyle  guidance  planning  work-life balance  your consulting practice 

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#141: When Your Client and You Are on Different Pages

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 28, 2009
Updated: Monday, September 28, 2009
Every once in a while I get out of sync with a client. I feel there is more potential for the organization than they do, and I am fighting to do things in their interest that they just don't want to do. Should I just back off?

This does happen, when a consultant is pushing a client to do the "obvious" thing to improve the client position and the client doesn’t see it or want to pursue it. On the one hand, the client pays the bills and is in charge of deciding what is or is not in the client organization's interest. On the other hand, you were brought in for your independent and objective ideas about how to improve your client's situation.

Parents know that it is problematic when you want more for your child than they want for themselves. How much do you push when you know what is in their best interest and they just don't have the experience to recognize it? With an adult client, however, it is their decision. Your expertise is as an advisor and you can only explain to them that in your experience, course A or B is the best one for them. Once they reflect and reject it, and you feel they understand the decision they are making, you have met your obligation and are done. Time to get in sync with the client and not feel they need to get in sync with you.

Tip: This is often where clients complain about the arrogance of some consultants who barely hide their contempt for a client who "cannot see the obvious." Our job is to lay out the issues and our best advice; the client's job is to make the decision, whether or not you agree with it. Also, if the circumstance occurs that you warned about and that could have been prevented had your advice been heeded, take the high road and stay far away from saying, or even thinking, "I told you so."

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  client relations  client service  consultant role  guidance  professionalism 

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#986: Help Clients Understand Resistance To Change

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, February 13, 2009
Updated: Sunday, February 15, 2009
I believe that both the change consultant and client staff are responsible for messaging about the nature of change and expected resistance to change. What is the best way to advise a client to help his or her own people through change?

A lot has been written about the change process, and the nature of change you specifically introduce will determine how you advise your client. Because the client will probably have more contact and influence with staff than you do, your helping them understand how people see change and how to prepare for it is a good idea.

At its simplest level, there are three aspects of resistance to change that should be addressed. These are rational, emotional and personal. The first is understanding what the change is, how it will be managed and what the effects will be - very left brain. The second is how we react to news of change, how we feel about it during the change, and how it will affect the culture of the organization when complete - very right brain. The third is grounded in trust in organizational leadership and, even if I don't understand the change and don't like it, I may still acept it if I trust the leadership. Change expert Rick Maurer describes these types of resistance to change as "I don't get it," "I don't like it," and "I don't like you."

Tip: Leaders need to attend to all three. Often, when staff resist change for emotional reasons, managers redouble their efforts to explain the rational basis of change. Or, leaders may say, "trust me" and not address either rational or emotional aspects. Part of your charge is to help clients understand each of these types of change resistance and coach them on messaging and behaviors that address all three. Talk through some of the key aspects of resistance with staff and, if needed, prepare talking points for your client to help them stay on message and more effectively deal with resistance.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  change  communication  guidance 

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#963: When Clients Aren't Like Those in the Management Books

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Updated: Sunday, January 18, 2009
All the classics of management theory and practice describe the successful manager and the way they lead companies in ways that I barely recognize in some of my clients.What's going on?

By definition, the "classics" of management (or any discipline) are written by the senior, experienced people in the industry. This means that the same factors that make them timeless, may also make them increasingly irrelevant. Not that there are not timeless concepts in them, but that the way these concept are used to manage are becoming blurred because of two factors.

First, technology changes the way and the speed at which we communicate. If you have ever heard a twenty-something say, with mock or real disdain, that email is "so 1990's," when some Boomers are just getting comfortable with it. Setting, changing, and having meetings on the fly is not a typical way organizations instill messages and reinforce influence - according to the classics. Second, the way different generations manage and expect to be managed is up for discussion. Different generations in the workplace at the same time means either more flexibility or managerial incompatibility for more people (other than the ones for whom the selected management style is selected). It is as disconcerting to be at the receiving end of a constantly shifting stream of communication and decision making as it is to be forced to sit in a meeting where discussions seem to take forever and decisions move at a snail's pace.

Tip: Just because your client doesn't operate like the classics of management texts doesn't mean there is not highly effective management going on. As a consultant, it is your job to recognize and adapt to the styles of employees, managers,and customers and not just try to impose what makes sense to your demographic or what everything you always read tells you.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client  consultant role  guidance 

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#948: Getting What You Need Most to Accelerate Business

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, December 24, 2008
For all the good consulting ideas I get from business books, conferences, my colleagues and your Daily Tips, I am still missing something that would really jump start my business. It is the guidance of a mentor or someone who could give me the unwritten tips of the trade. How do I find such a person?

Having a guiding force early in your career has always been a good idea. However it seems to be all the rage today for anyone at any stage of their career to find a mentor, coach or advisor. Finding someone (or several someones) to provide guidance makes a lot of sense for consultants, whose careers require development of skills and behaviors in a wide range of areas. But how does one go about finding someone who can guide them?

The first step is to really understand who you are and where you are headed. Is what you lack related to your business or personal life? Are you more interested in building your business than expanding your service offerings? Do you feel comfortable with your work-life balance but not with understanding where your career is headed? Answering these questions comes first before trying to decide what kind of person to seek to help guide you (that person will ask similar questions once you start working with them).

Tip: Think of the one person you would really benefit most from talking to. Aim high. Who do you admire that could give you that one nugget of information that could unlock your business or personal potential? Now, find out how to approach them, whether through colleagues or through formal channels. Don't assume that because someone is famous or presumably busy that they won't make time for you. After all, this is the most important issue you face, your future. Remember, you are not asking to develop along term relationship with them, just get that one piece of advice you really need.

P.S. Whether this works or not, pick the next person on your list of "the person I'd most like to talk to" and have a conversation with them.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  guidance  mentor 

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