Consulting Process Skills


Understanding the cycle of activities and the allocation of responsibilities at each stage in the consultant process is crucial for good collaboration
and for achieving project goals.
An effective consultant is able to use the right skills
for the right stage in the consultant process.

Here are the top 5 resources suggested by CBC to help your mentees to grow in their consulting process skills

1. Coaching skills training based on the GROW model

The GROW model of coaching focuses on engaging  those we interact with and drawing out their potential to think strategically and solve problems. It can help consultants structure intentional conversations with individuals and groups that focus on establishing the Goal of the interaction, understanding the Reality of the context, looking at Options for how to reach a goal or solve a problem, and planning the next steps and actions of Way forward, and these four steps have direct parallels to the stages of the consulting process.

Some resources to help you explore the GROW model:

Tip: Coaching approaches help consultants to focus on building capacity in others. The skills of listening well and asking effective questions can be developed within coaching skills training and can also be used outside of any one coaching model.

2. Consultant Skills Online Course

This self-paced Moodle course developed by Paul Frank, entitled Consultant Skills is a valuable training resource. Topics 4-7 in the course present a 6-stage model of the consulting process which serves as a basis for consultants to plan and structure effective professional interactions that engage the client/consultee and result in desired outcomes. The 6 stages are engagement (first contact), contracting, analysis (discover and diagnose), action (implementation), assessment (evaluation), and wrap-up. Works cited include the following:

  • Blake, R.R., & Mouton, J.S. (1976). Consultation. Addison-Wesley. [Phases in Consulting]
  • Block, P. (2011). Flawless consulting: A guide to getting your expertise used (3rd ed.). Pfeiffer. [An Overview of the Consulting Process]
  • Cope, Mick. (2010). The seven Cs of consulting (3rd ed.). FT Publishing. [Consulting Process Model and Checklist]
  • Lippitt, G.L., & Lippitt, R.O. (1978). The consulting process in action. [ Phases in Consulting].

Tip: A good learning activity could be to contrast and compare the 6 stages of consulting that this course presents with the stages of the consulting model in Flawless Consulting (Block 2011).

3. Chapters from Flawless Consulting

The following chapters from Flawless consulting: A guide to getting your expertise used (3rd ed.) could be relevant and helpful for those who wish to grow in their consulting skills.

  • On contracting: Chapter 4 “Contracting Overview”; Chapter 5 “The Contracting Meeting”
  • On handling resistance: Chapter 8 “Understanding Resistance”; Chapter 9 “Dealing with Resistance”
  • On engagement in the implementation process: Chapter 17 “The Elements of Engagement”

This is recommended by Linda Humnick, SIL Eurasia Consultant Development Coordinator. She writes: “I find Peter Block’s book, Flawless Consulting (3rd edition) to be essential in helping me to understand the flow of the consulting process and what types of skills can be used in various phases. In particular, I was excited to see chapters on understanding and dealing with resistance, as I had often wondered what it takes to influence and motivate others to implement the recommendations of a consultant. Block gives insightful tips on understanding indirect ways that a client may communicate resistance in the consulting context (“The Faces of Resistance”), the kinds of concerns or fears that underlie these communications, and practical ways the consultant can act and speak to address resistance.”

Tip: A number of checklists and planning workshops used in the book, including resources for planning and reviewing contracting meetings, discovery meetings, and implementation meetings are available via the Flawless Consulting website.

4. Consulting With Wisdom and Grace

A 10-hour, self-paced online course offered by ICETE Academy. The materials cover topics such as building a quality consulting relationship, traits and skills of a good consultant, types of consultants, the process of consultancy and cultural awareness in consulting. The course was intended for people working in higher education but the principles apply to any consulting situation.

Tip: Go through the materials with your mentee and discuss how they may apply in your context.

5. Humble Consulting: How to provide real help faster

In this book Edgar Schein argues that consultants have to jettison the old idea of professional distance and work with their clients in a more personal way, emphasizing authentic openness, curiosity, and humility.

Tip: Have a look inside the book on Google Books to see if there are parts that might interest you.

Further resources that might interest you

  • Watch this space! 🙂

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