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

Be the Consultant Your Clients Want to Mirror

Over the last several years buzz words like authenticity, compassion, courage, empathy, and kindness have all made their way into thought leadership blogs and articles. The premise is that leaders who demonstrate these characteristics are more likely to be successful and have better team and organizational outcomes. At the foundation of these ideas is the fact that none of us want to work for or with people who do not demonstrate these and other basic characteristics for effective human interaction. There is something that draws us to others who engage with us in the same way that we would want to ideally engage with others. This is one of the underlying components of Flawless Consulting. As an internal or external consultant, we have to engage with our clients in an authentic, courageous, wholehearted way. This, in turn, creates the environment for our clients to engage with us in that same way.

Ruminations on Influence

The heart of consulting, as Peter Block has so succinctly put it, is “influencing without direct authority.” That holds for those of us who work as external consultants as well as anyone in a staff role working internally. Therefore, it seems worth thinking about the source and process of influence.

Delivering Consulting and Implementation

We are good at more than implementing solutions that require our specific technical or business expertise. We also know a lot about helping design optimal solutions, based upon thoughtful analysis of situation-specific problem sets and desired outcomes. We’ve seen plenty of well implemented solutions that work in one place, but not in another. With this experienced insight, we can help folks figure out the best solutions that fit their particular situations. In short, we offer consulting expertise in addition to implementation expertise, and we focus on helping our clients/stakeholders get the results they want—not just getting a solution “done” according to the specifications.

How Does Flawless Consulting Apply To You and Your Organization?

When explaining Flawless Consulting to a friend outside of my regular consulting world, I like to highlight building authenticity and awareness in relationships. I want to highlight how work projects can be approached differently, using the Flawless consulting structured framework, that allows people to enter into projects more consciously. I appreciate these elements because they lead to a more effective project with the opportunity for greater impact, by building the relationship along with technical expertise.

Consulting Complexities: Some 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. In this post, we begin to wind up with some thoughts on what to do.

Telling It Like It Is

Many years ago, I was introduced to what is now one of my favorite books, Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute. I was intrigued by the title and mostly curious about the term self-deception. What is it—and do I have it?
In simplest terms, self-deception means that we do not see ourselves and the people around us as they really are. The authors of the book explain: “It blinds us to the true cause of problems, and once blind, all the ‘solutions’ we can think of will actually make matters worse.” As a Flawless consultant, it’s a truth I’ve seen played out all too often.

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