When I saw Artis at a work function a few weeks before work started, I told him I was nervous about the class because I didn’t do any consulting. He told me, “I bet you do and don’t even know it.” As I was reading Brock’s book, I realized that is the absolute truth. In HR, because you are subject matter experts for your department, you’re consulting all the time, explaining policy or helping make important decisions (hiring, employee relations, etc.) based on your knowledge and interpretation of policies.
I know Susan kept having issues with the word “flawless” in the title of our textbook, but after having read his explanation in chapter three, it makes much more sense. Everyone has the potential to be a flawless consultant, it’s a series of steps. You have to navigate the situation–it’s almost intuitive. The second chapter of Schein helped this click even more with me, where he talks about the psychodynamic issues of consulting. Understanding the helping relationship between a consultant and a client–creating a safe environment, accepting one’s role, both parties understanding the reality–can lead to a much stronger relationship.
Of course not all the outcomes will be flawless. Block (and Schein, for that matter) isn’t saying this at all–there can be all kinds of factors to lead to something not working out. What he says is that if you understand how to intuitively act and react as a consultant, interpreting situations, you can consult flawlessly.
I don’t think I would be a model of flawless consulting right now except in the best situations, as I do not have the skills to read people or remove emotions. I take things personally and generally have very strong opinions that I can’t seem to keep under control, but I feel a bit better knowing there are ways I can improve my consulting skills. I’m looking forward to our project this semester and using what we’re learning!
Photo of hair salon–a type of consulting!–from flickr’s The Commons.