Tips for Getting Real on What’s Really Happening at Work

In the past month, life for most of us has changed. Plans have been disrupted and work looks very different. We may be working from home—or we may not be working at all, furloughed or laid-off from our organizations. There is uncertainty and uncertainty fuels anxiety.

In organizations around the world, leaders and managers are responsible for helping to minimize this anxiety with their workforce. It’s a global issue and certainly an issue of global proportions. After all, how do I as a leader in an organization help provide clarity, when I am living in these unparalleled and uncertain times as well?

In Defense of Being “Helpful”

I want to write in defense of being helpful. And I want to distinguish it from rescue.

There have been times in working Flawless Consulting Workshops that I have heard being “helpful” disparaged a bit with phrase like, “We don’t want to be helpful. We want to be useful.” Since we are in a “helping profession,” this has always rankled me just a bit.

When You Can’t Go Out, Go In

Perhaps the earth has truly gone into “reset” mode due to the lockdown caused by the Coronavirus. Perhaps it is time for us to push the “pause” button and rethink how we have been living our professional and personal lives. Perhaps the “reset” mode and “pause” button are now compelling us to rethink the meaning and purpose of our relationships, both at home and at work.

Developing an Assertive You for Consulting Win-Wins

In Flawless Consulting, we talk about this idea of being aggressive, as well as what it means to be the opposite, or non-assertive. Neither is a recipe for success. As Flawless consultants, we strive to be assertive, respecting the rights of others as well as our own. Rights such as the ability to voice an opinion, be listened to, disagree, to say no, be treated with respect, express feelings, or be quiet are generally things we want for ourselves—and certainly rights we should not deny our clients.

A Practical Guide for New Work-at-Homers

Since 2007, I’ve been working from home. I’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to make working remotely work. If you’ve ever worked from home, you know it’s nothing like working in an office. To help you survive and maybe even thrive in this “new normal,” here are some of my most practical (and real) tips.

Eating Breakfast in Delhi

I’m having breakfast at the hotel in Delhi. It’s a buffet that comes with the price of the room. I order coffee and then go to the buffet. I read the offerings and walk the length of the table, not sure what most of these dishes are. It’s my first time in Delhi.
I begin to notice the number of westerners in the room—from the UK and USA, mostly. Almost all of them are at the omelette bar or getting the traditional western breakfast. I see several of them lift the covers on the other foods, only to quickly cover them. Indian dishes full of vegetables, soups, and spices don’t seem to appeal.

Expressing Wants: A Basic Flawless Consulting Skill

In the Flawless Consulting Skills workshops, we stress that you’ll want to change your conversations . . . the way you talk to your clients, your boss, and to each other. We see that new conversations will move you toward partnership. For example, in our initial conversation with our clients, our goal is to get an agreement on what we are going to do and how we are going to work together. We call this the Contracting Meeting. As consultants, we want to be clear about what we want to help the client be successful.

Get Back to Basics

I find myself wondering how I can take my skills to the next level. I have been an internal consultant for over 25 years. I continue to work at getting my expertise used and making a difference in my organization, my community, and the world. As l look for experiences that will take me to the next level, I sometimes find myself seeking “Advanced” consulting skills.

What I have learned when I am struggling to use my skills and make a difference, is that I really need to go back to the basics.

Developing Flawless Clients

Flawless Consulting is the popular workshop and book by Peter Block, which are designed to develop skills that increase an internal consultant’s ability to have a strong and positive impact on their client’s business results. Individuals in staff positions such as human resources, training, organizational development, information systems, finance, safety, purchasing, and engineering have all benefited from Flawless Consulting over the years.

A “Flawless” Conversation with your Boss

This is the most important ongoing conversation that you have in your organization. It sets the guidelines for how you and your boss will work together. It is the beginning of a partnership with your boss and a step toward empowerment for you.

Most of us believe that we are already having such conversations. I know I did. Yet when I dig deeper with people, I find that most conversations were as a benevolent parent (boss) to a compliant child (employee), not as partners.

Recent Articles

Influencing Without Direct Control (I Want Power. I Choose Influence.)

How powerful am I? What is power? Are you empowered? Power over? Power by? Power with? If only I had more power! Do I really want more power, or do I want more influence? Is there a difference?

As I think about all of the relationships of my life, power seems to have a major role. As a child, my parents had power over me. As a student, teachers and administrators had power over me. As a new employee, I gave my boss and my senior colleagues power over me. As a poor citizen in my city, I gave power to government and institutions. We have learned that the world works on a class system which relies on the belief that we must have people who have power and people who are subservient to power. In the subservient role, I seek safety and control, yet I give up freedom and choice.

Another Look at Resistance

In any conversation with clients, there are concerns that are rarely discussed. These doubts vary in intensity with their perceived risk and loss of control; they are personal to the individual and the situation—they are not the same for everyone.

Tips And Traps For Internal Consultants

Are you in a position to influence others, but have no authority to make changes or implement programs? If so, then you meet the definition of a “consultant” as found in Peter Block’s book, Flawless Consulting.
As internal consultants, we want to help solve our clients’ problems. We work to have our expertise used and our recommendations implemented. We strive to build and maintain partnerships with our clients.

A Short Version of My Misunderstanding of Gestalt

In October 2019, Designed Learning marked the 40th anniversary of its founding with a webinar where Peter shared some thoughts on the origins of the company. It all began with a workshop, he said, that was grounded in a simple belief: relationships are decisive. What hasn’t changed over the years is this basic belief that relationships are decisive, not convenient, not rewarded, not comforting. And so it turns out that your ability to engage in honest, authentic relationships has everything to do with business performance.
In this blog post, Peter reflects farther back, into the origins of that simple belief that gave Designed Learning its footing.

What’s Thanksgiving Without Pizza?

Thanksgiving: a time for family, friends, football, and food… turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and of course pizza. What’s the matter? Don’t you have pizza on your Thanksgiving table?
Our Thanksgiving pizza tradition started years ago when I invited Bob, Diane, and their family to our house for Thanksgiving. They had recently moved to Connecticut and would be alone for the holiday. When I asked Bob’s children what they wanted for thanksgiving dinner his teenaged son yelled, “Pizza”! This drew a rebuke from Bob. He apologized to me and informed his son that pizza was not a traditional food for Thanksgiving.

Consulting Complexities: Final Thoughts on What to Do

The promise of consulting is a commitment to care and to serve. We promise to act in the interest of another, the client. This series of blog posts explored some of the complexities consultants face that interfere with our capacity to serve, even in the face of our best intentions. With this post, we wind the series up with a few more thoughts on what to do.

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