Friday, September 4, 2009

Step It Up! Program Preview, September 25th

Step It Up!

Moving from Solution Provider to Performance Consultant and Strategic Partner

Imagine, you’re calling key consulting client. Her assistant answers the phone.

“Could you hold please? She may have left for her next meeting.”

The assistant places the call on hold and walks to your client’s office. “Do you want to take a call from Ken, with people development?” Your client shakes her head, “Tell Ken to check in with me next year. I’ll call sooner if I need help with anything.”

“Hello. I’m back. I was able to catch her on her way out the door. She asked me to have you check in with her in mid-2010. She said she’d contact you sooner if she had a project for you.”

What do responses like this indicate? Of course, your client could be busy. She also could be facing budget issues. But the lack of interest in getting together indicates something bigger.

Primarily, what this indicates is a lack of value placed by the client in the relationship. Why? There are two likely drivers:
1) Lack of Access, Credibility and Trust with the client
2) Client perception of the consultant as a tactical order taker or solution provider rather than a performance consultant and strategic partner; therefore the conversation you were planning to have was not business relevant to that client

Planning and managing client relationships is an essential practice of internal and external consultants. Successful client partnerships require that consultants establish Access, Credibility and Trust.
· Access: Your ability to gain “face time” with true clients
· Credibility: Your clients confidence in your capability to deliver results
· Trust: Your clients confidence in your reliability and integrity to achieve results
The ACT model, developed by Jim and Dana Robinson, represents the success practices of “star” performance consultants and strategic business partners.

Access is where relationships begin. Yet, one area that presents challenges to consultants in working to establish stronger client partnerships is gaining access to the “true” clients for an initiative. Often, we discover upon reflection that the types of people we have been working with don’t meet the client test. In this case, they are contacts, not clients.

What’s do I mean by the client test? Well, true clients:
· Own/are accountable for achieving the business results supported by the project
· Have authority to obtain resources and make decisions
· Are within the chain of command of the employee group(s) whose performance is to be impacted

Ultimately, we must gain access to the true client(s) for an initiative if we’re to achieve business results. The good news is that there are proven techniques to gain access to the true clients in ways that work with existing contact relationships.

Credibility is comprised of your knowledge of the organization and industry as well as your knowledge of HR, Learning and OD. These two knowledge areas should be in balance. There are proven ways to develop in these areas. However, as Jim and Dana have reminded us in their book, Performance Consulting, what really matters is not what you know; What really matters is what you do with what you know. That’s how you develop credibility. And you need a plan to do so. Proven techniques include delivering on your commitments, presenting business cases with solutions you offer, and showing shared accountability for business results.

Credibility and Trust are inter-related. Trust is confidence in how you achieve results. And yes, it is possible to be credible without being trustworthy. Trust is both a measure of integrity as well as accountability for delivering the right results in the right way to benefit the business. Key trust building activities include keeping client confidentiality, showing joint accountability and ownership, as well as operating with the utmost integrity consistent with organization values. One simple way you can build trust is to ask for permission prior to forwarding an email. This demonstrates to your client that you value the relationship and seek to protect their reputation.

Whether you are a performance consultant or a strategic partner, building Access Credibility and Trust is vital to your career success. ACT is one component of the fully developed model for strategic partnering and performance consulting that Jim and Dana pioneered now offered through Exemplary Performance.

Note: This content is adapted by Nancy Q. Smith of Exemplary Performance from work © 1995 and 2009 by Jim and Dana Gaines Robinson and their Firm Partners In Change. Exemplary Performance purchased the intellectual property of Jim and Dana in 2008 and gratefully acknowledges their contributions to HR, Learning and OD. Exemplary Performance is the exclusive provider of the workshops and services based on Jim and Dana’s work. Nancy Q. Smith is Director, Strategic Partnering, for Exemplary Performance.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

I'm looking forward to the program. I am a fan of the Robinson's work and this is a relevant topic for all of us!