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In the course of our in-class consulting project, which was undertaken through groups comprised of a number of students, our team [Team 3] thought it was appropriate to seek consultation services from Team 2 on a number of issues.
Team 3 intended to gain knowledge on the strategies that it could adopt in order to promote collaboration amongst the team members. However, Team 2 kept pressurizing our team to sign a contract without outlining concrete things that it would do in order to assist Team 3 attain its goal. As a client, I felt that Team 2 was not keen on listening to what Team 3 intended to achieve. In order to improve the chances of success during the consultation process, it is imperative for the consultant to collaborate with the client in a number of areas as evaluated herein.
Joint problem definition
According to Jones and Brenda (2014), the successful consultation process is comprised of two main parties, viz. the client and the consultant. The two parties must establish a strong consultation relationship. However, the process of building the consultation relationship is complex due to the existence of diverse cultural and human factors. Despite this aspect, the consultant and the client must strive to establish and sustain the consultation relationship.
One of the issues that the consultant must focus on entails establishing a clear definition of expectations and roles. In a bid to achieve this goal, the client must inquire from the client regarding the desired expectations in order to eliminate misunderstandings. Therefore, the client and the consultant must collaborate in defining the problem. The consultant must provide the client with an opportunity to explain the prevailing issues that need to be resolved.
The definition of the clients’ needs should form the basis upon which the two parties refine the problem. Kubr (2007) collaborates that both the “client and the consultant should be prepared to make changes to their initial definition of the problem and agree to a joint definition” (p. 65). In this case, Team 2 [the consultant] was not concerned with understanding the client’s [Team 3] expectations. Subsequently, Team 2’s ability to define the prevailing problem comprehensively was limited, thus its inability to provide concrete issues that would be employed in order to resolve the problem at hand.
According to Cummings and Worley (2014), it is imperative for the consultant to consider developing a knowledge-based relationship, which can only be attained if the consultant appreciates two-dimensional communication, viz. from client to consultant and from consultant to the client. Jones and Brenda (2014) further affirm that two-dimensional communication should form the basis of entering into the consultation contract. During this scenario, Team 2 [the consultant] was only concerned with signing the consultation contract without receiving the client’s [Team 2] opinion.
Definition of results to be achieved
During the consultation process, the consultant and the client must work collaboratively in clarifying the desired results. In order to attain this goal, the consultant must clearly define the scope of the consultation process and the likelihood of exceeding the scope. One of the aspects that the consultant should consider in defining the scope entails the activities that will be undertaken in order to assist the client to solve the problem faced.
For example, it is imperative for the consultant to define his/her active involvement in the implementation of the proposed solutions. This aspect will play a vital role in eliminating implementation problems that the client might encounter. Moreover, the consultant must clearly define the metrics to be used in measuring the achievement attained. Kubr (2007) emphasizes that it is imperative for the consultant to define clearly his/her duty to the client.
Consultant and client’s role
A successful consultation process depends on the effort of the client and the consultant in executing their roles. One of the most important roles of the consultant entails the process role whereby the consultant acts as the change agent. The change agent should outline the intervention techniques to be adopted in solving the clients’ problem. Furthermore, Kubr (2007) argues that the consultant should not only be concerned with informing the client of the approach, but also defining the values and approach to be adopted.
In this scenario, Team 2 was charged with the responsibility of providing feasible solutions or an action plan to be adopted in dealing with the problem faced by Team 3. The action plan should have proposed different viable solutions that Team 3 would have integrated. Conversely, Team 3 was required to provide information on the prevailing situation within the team. Team 3 was willing to provide all the information that Team 2 might have requested in order to achieve its goal.
Cummings and Worley (2014) argue that diverse issues might be encountered during the consultation process. Despite this aspect, the consultant must outline his/her commitment to adopting emergent strategies in order to deal with such issues. This goal can only be attained if the consultant is flexible in dealing with issues uncovered. Additionally, the client must be informed in advance of such issues in order to assess their impacts on its performance.
Additionally, the provision of prior information is essential in developing mutual trust. During the in-class consultation process, Team 2 was not articulate in outlining how they would deal with emergent issues during the consultation process. Subsequently, this aspect led to the development of a perception that Team 2 would just impose solutions that might not be of help to Team 3.
Understanding the client system
Kubr (2007) asserts that many “consultants make the mistake of automatically considering and treating the most senior person as the main client” (p. 67). On the contrary, it is imperative for the consultant to integrate a high degree of equity in dealing with the client. Thus, all parties in the group must be considered important for they will be charged with the responsibility of implementing the proposed solutions. In a bid to be successful in implementing equity, it is essential for the consultant to consider exploring the client’s system. The exploration leads to an extensive understanding of the needs of the various internal stakeholders.
In its quest to provide consultancy services to Team 3, Team 2 was not concerned with exploring the client’s system, as evidenced by its failure to listen to Team 3 members. This aspect affected the trust between the client and the consultant. Kubr (2007) emphasizes that personal relationships, collaboration, and knowledge sharing during the consultation process are affected adversely by a lack of trust. Developing trust is also essential in improving the consultation relationship by making consultation less formal, thus the likelihood of gathering sufficient data to be used in resolving the problem faced.
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In summary, Team 2 [consultant] did not appreciate the importance of collaboration during the consultation process. Furthermore, the consultant team did not have sufficient knowledge of its role during the process of providing consultancy services.
Cummings, T., & Worley, C. (2014). Organization development and change. Stanford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Jones, B., & Brazzel, M. (2014). The NTL handbook of organization development and change: Principles, practices and perspectives. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
Kubr, M. (2007). Management consulting: a guide to the profession. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labor Office.