Not every client is used to hearing a dissenting opinion. Some of them, unintentionally or otherwise, surround themselves with yes men or people who are just trying to keep the person in charge happy. As a consultant, you need to be able to give clients honest, useful feedback when you disagree with the current course. Michael Zipursky offers three steps for doing this:
- Establish how you work.
- Believe what you see.
- Tell them clearly.
Giving It Straight
In the ideal scenario, you set up expectations with the client from the beginning. In the first meeting, you tell the client that you intend to be very honest with him or her, about both the positive aspects of your findings and the areas that could use improvement. Establishing that honesty is important to you softens the blow to the client when the negative view needs to be conveyed.
Second, remember that seeing is believing. Different people at different levels of the organization are going to offer very different perspectives, and not everything you hear may be true. Zipursky says to take the effort to investigate personally and see for yourself how things really are. This places you in the best position to advise the client, and additionally, you can even invite the client to experience first-hand the things you found in your investigation.
About “telling them clearly,” Zipursky says:
I recently had a discussion with one of my coaching clients. Based in South America this consulting firm owner had a weight on his shoulders. The challenges with his employees and the market kept coming up and what he had or hadn’t done right in the past. I told him not to worry about the past anymore, look at this as an opportunity to focus on the future and get things right going forward.
You can do the same thing with your clients. Focus on the positive, not on the negative. Look at the challenge as an opportunity to fix and improve.
Negatives are only useful when they are framed in a way that begets positives. You can read the original post here: http://www.consultingsuccess.com/3-ways-to-disagree-with-your-consulting-clients