We have very little resistance in our culture, Charlie.” came the statement from a participant. “We feel that our open collaborative culture promotes working together and so we just don’t encounter much resistance.”
I’ve heard those words in the Flawless Consulting Skills workshops. They come from a mindset – strategy or approach – that staff or service groups develop toward internal consulting. This mindset believes:
The customer (client) is always right.
Our client is in management and they know what they want.
Our job is to serve…to respond to their requests.
We do not question the clients plans.
We avoid disagreeing with the client since it could be seen as a challenge to the client’s authority.
Our goal is to make things work using our expertise, our special and unique knowledge.
With such an approach, internal consultants often minimize their wants, skip Discovery & Feedback phases, and move quickly to Implementation. In Flawless Consulting, the name for such a mindset is the “Pair of Hands Role” in which the Internal Consultant takes a passive, transactional role deferring to the judgment and wishes of the client.
The upside of such a role is that decisions come quickly, implementation is fast, the Consultant knows what to do, and conflict is avoided. The hope is for a successful outcome based on the client’s plan. It fits into the work smarter and harder pressures of today’s world.
The downside is that the Consultant assumes the client has correctly identified the situation and its solution. Such an assumption may impact the Consultants’ credibility and reputation if the client is wrong. Also, the Consultant may be under-utilized offering little to identifying the situation accurately or generating ideas for an effective solution. Over time, the Pair of Hands approach can lead to the Internal Consultant being seen as low value added.
The most severe consequence comes when we don’t have a real problem or implement the right solution. This costs time and money in rework and damages our credibility.
The Pair of Hands role is a choice based on a mindset wanting to serve and please our clients. It’s not good or bad, right or wrong. Like every choice we make, it has consequences. Knowing those consequences before we make a choice is helpful.
So little or no resistance from the client may be a sign that we’re operating as a Pair of Hands. If we want to change that, we need to change our conversations. The “Contracting” meeting from Flawless Consulting describes that new conversation and helps build the skills needed to move toward a real collaborative role and a real partnership.
I’ll leave you with something to think about.