{audio}by David Amerland|How to Work Together with Clients|040115.mp3{/audio}


Anyone who’s done consulting of any kind will be familiar with this scenario: you’re called in to help a client deal with a difficult situation in their business development which they do not feel sufficiently equipped to deal with. Yet everything you suggest is met with resistance either actively or passively until, in despair, you begin to suggest things they are already doing. 

At that point you have failed as a consultant and the client has managed to miss yet another opportunity for growth. In a consulting situation both parties involved really want the same thing: they want the business to overcome its obstacles and begin to grow yet what usually transpires is a tug-of-war over how far a consultant can push a client to change and how little of that change a client can get away with implementing. 

It may sound like a paradoxical situation but it is actually quite logical and the tragic thing is that usually both client and consultant fail to see the logic of it. That logic has to do with self-preservation. Every business is risk averse. This means that it resists change and each of its processes is designed to make it difficult to implement it. 

Consultants are also risk averse. Those of us who advise businesses see the changes taking place in the marketplace and usually advise clients on the minimum amount of change required to meet them successfully. The reason none of this works as it should is because both sides usually fail to see what’s involved. Consultants fail to understand the extent of the disruption change causes to a business which means they do not adequately plan for it. Businesses fail to appreciate the fact that consultants themselves are conservative, suggesting changes designed to deliver sure-fire wins rather than asking for leaps of faith. 

In the disconnect between the two lies the gulf of two languages describing the same world from opposite sides. How you bridge that gap is actually surprisingly easy. Start by defining common objectives for the consultant and the business and then pool resources to help you find the best acceptable path to attain them. While this sounds easy it requires a mental change that’s not always easy to make. 

Succeed in making it however and the traditional tug of war between a consultant and a business disappears. What takes its place is a collaborative effort with a can-do attitude that makes it easier for everyone to work. And that is an awesome all-round win.

Thank you for listening.