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Internal Consultancy: Highway to Effective People & Organisational Development?
Contents Preface Chapter 1: Towards a definition of "consulting" Chapter 2: The scope and skills of management consultancy Part One: The management consultancy industry Part Two: Consulting models in the industry Part Three: Application Case Studies Chapter 3: The skills and models of the Internal Consultant Chapter 4: Insights, benefits and advantages of internal consultancy Appendix 1: Research method Appendix 2: Initial research plans
The central concerns of this dissertation came into focus in early Spring 2000. A number of issues had been at the top of my agenda for a while and these eventually crystallised into my enthusiasm for this investigation into internal consultancy.
Organisationally, I was becoming increasingly concerned that the HR training team (of which I am a part) was not, in my view, moving fast enough in responding to the business needs of "sections" of the Firm. The traditional concentration upon the design, delivery and evaluation of training programmes was changing but not, I thought, fast enough or even in the right ways. We were moving to use different delivery methods (e.g., using information technology in creative ways to make training available at the desk top in smaller modules) and addressing the need for accredited learning but this did not seem to be enough. Sections, which I had always thought of as our internal clients, wanted a more differentiated, business driven range of learning and development options rather than access to standardised courses.
A number of observations underlined, for me, how curiously unresponsive our training had become. One will illustrate the point. As a professional services Firm we had no agreed process for costing projects and pricing them in tenders and proposals to clients. As a result, "fee write downs" were a cause for concern. These "write down" situations typically arise because the costing and pricing of the project (or client assignment) has not taken into account all of the costs involved in meeting the client's needs.
The Firm's integrated time recording and billing system has enabled the, relatively new, Finance Director to see what is happening and he has contributed to the development of a new training programme which is designed to address these issues.
The first group of course appraisal forms from this programme noted the quality of the theoretical frameworks, applauded the quality of the delivery of the programme itself but pointed out that the practical application of the learning would be immensely difficult because the delegate's sections (indeed the whole Firm) still had no agreed approach, system or process in place which would allow them to operationalise the learning day to day.
What had happened here, I thought, was that a need (too many fee write downs) had been identified and one part of a possible solution had been developed and delivered without adequate attention being paid to other aspects of the problem.
A more rounded and complete response to the problem would, I thought, have involved HR training in collaborative consultancy out of which a training course might have emerged as just one part of an integrated response.
Moreover, I also recognised that, personally, I am inclined to take a consultancy approach to problems - for a number of reasons. I am interested in organisations, systems and people. I am psychologically predisposed to prefer consulting and advising to other forms of intervention. I tend to believe that consulting is a richer, more subtle and a more complete response to problems in organisations than training – especially when this takes the form of largely undifferentiated courses delivered at pre-set times for people across the organisation with little current training needs analysis to support
the design and much less follow through. I have also come to believe that the new renaissance manager in today's knowledge rich corporation may, increasingly and quite reasonably, adopt a consultancy mindset rather than a managerial mindset. This is significantly because the "do as I say because I am the boss" approach will not wash with highly skilled, educated and motivated people. In many organisations individual worth and contribution is becoming, or has already become, the basis for power and reward rather than position and status. I perceive this trend increasing. It is a movement that requires a new form of management. What, I speculated, could models of consultancy offer here?
As organisations rapidly move towards organising around processes and outcomes, they adopt new configurations which are influenced by political, economic, technological or social change or the increasing emphasis placed upon being close to the customer or the developing importance of entrepreneurship both within and outside established organisations or the rise in importance of multi-disciplinary teams and networking. Not only did I believe that, in these situations, individual managers might gain from the appropriate adoption of a consulting style but, also, if they occupied certain roles in organisations, the adoption of a consulting style might, perhaps, be almost inevitable. The particular roles where this might be most pronounced (roles which some writers, particularly Americans, refer to as "staff roles") are those associated with support functions (finance, audit, HR, marketing, business development) which have often been outsourced and where the organisation often has little difficulty finding qualified external consultancy. It is almost commonplace now to affirm that management does not control but enable. A decent case could be made that the primary function of management is to provide the conditions and support needed to enable highly skilled and knowledgeable people
to perform at their maximum capability. The particular interest I had developed, and which I wanted to investigate, in this context, was in relation to the proposition that internal consultancy and the skills of consulting would both become very much more critical and valued (within organisations) than they had been previously.
Did, for example, consulting have the power to make a more powerful, sustained and significant change in organisations than training? Was it true that many of the significant changes facing developers (knowledge management, use of new technologies, empowering people, helping to create self managed teams, more rapid and effective learning transfer, etc) required that they develop the skills of internal consultants?
I was also curious that, although my organisation operates as a professional services consultancy in the financial sector using predominantly actuarial skills, and the HR training team provide a number of consulting skills courses, no-one had spoken to me about HR training staff "modelling" consulting skills in their internal client liaison work. Indeed, my own suggestion made some months before, that developing internal consulting skills to a higher level within the HR training team would be a valuable and sensible response to many of the issues we faced was rather frowned on. This puzzled me because I was aware that the internal consulting model appeared to be being used successfully elsewhere and "internal consultancy is an operating style which aligns itself to the demands of flatter organisational structures and highly skilled and knowledgeable workers", according to Thomas and Elbeik1. My organisation, which is constituted as a partnership, has both of those characteristics. I noticed that the development of a Firm-wide behavioural competencies framework was proceeding on the assumption that our central services sections (what the Americans would call the
"staff functions" of marketing, IT, personnel, training, accountancy, audit, knowledge management, business benefits, etc) would deploy consultancy behaviours internally in much the same way as we expected external or client facing staff to use them.
So, in this dissertation I aim to attempt to assess the proposition that internal consultancy is a highway to effective people and organisational development. Are writers such as Thomas and Elbeik right in making such striking claims for the value of internal consultancy as:
"The internal consultancy model offers immense benefits in harnessing and actively promoting internal knowledge and expertise to improve organisational performance."2 and
"[We] firmly believe that these skills represent the start of a new business order."3
Phillips and Shaw, writing seven years before Thomas and Elbeik, in 1989, had suggested that trainers might move into consultancy as a response to the increasing premium that, even then, organisations were placing on the following capacities4:
• • • • •
Flexibility and creativity Vision Natural authority Diagnostic skills Problem solving skills
• • • •
Leadership Risk taking Accurate judgement Ability to use all available skills and contributions
Internal Consultancy • • • • • • Teamwork Consulting skills Decision making skills Ability to see the big picture Ability to think strategically Self-development and self awareness • • • • • Coaching and counselling skills Interpersonal skills Sensitivity Ability to motivate High pain threshold
Since the late 1980's the perception that these skills and attributes – and other related competencies – are what divides a world class management team from the rest, seems to me to have grown. Phillips and Shaw claimed that these capabilities would be better developed and sustained in organisations by trainers adopting more of a consultancy approach.
These are not insubstantial claims. My aim in this dissertation is to investigate internal consultancy and explore the extent to which it may provide a highway to effective people and organisational development. Thus, as I set out on the journey into this arena, some of the key questions I wanted to address might be summarised briefly as follows:
• • • •
What is consulting? What is the scope and what are the skills of management consulting? How are they used? What application do the skills of management consulting have to an HR training team or, say, a Marketing team within an organisation?
How can I improve my own performance as a consultant? What might be done to help colleagues become more effective through the development and use of consulting skills?
What particular insights, benefits and advantages does the consulting approach offer to those who use it within organisations?
Chapter 1: Towards a definition of "consulting"
"A consultant is a person who takes your money and annoys your employees while tirelessly searching for the best way to extend the contract." – Scott Adams5
In order to provide a framework for my investigation and development it is important to be clear about what consulting is. So, in this first chapter, my aim is to seek to understand the nature of consulting. In doing so, I will explore the contrast between the executive function (management) and the advisory function (consultancy). I will consider the idea that the contrast between these two functions is only sustainable if one considers an older management paradigm and compares that with more recent definitions of consultancy. I will consider the goals of the consultant – what, very broadly, they aim to achieve. I will discuss the contention that consultancy must, almost by definition, be something delivered from outside an organisation and, consider, the claim that this external locus is central to our understanding of consultancy. The consultant's claim to independence (of mind, location and perspective), the tests of professional status and the associated claim to a body of knowledge together with the ethics of consultancy will all be reviewed in this initial overview.
Peter Block, writing in "Flawless Consulting"6, takes an inclusive view of consulting.
"All people who have professional expertise, limited direct authority over the use of their expertise and the desire to make some impact", he says, "may act as consultants".
A manager, by contrast, according to Peter Block, is someone who has direct control over the action. The consultant is a person in a position to have some influence over an individual, a group or an organisation, but a consultant has no direct executive power to make changes or implement programmes.
Block considers that much of the disfavour associated with the term consultant comes from the, ever present, temptation for the consultant to act as a surrogate line manager. Once a consultant accedes to this temptation they stop truly being consultants.
In seeking to contrast consultancy with management, Block may be using a rather dated management paradigm. In order to define consultancy he seeks to say what it is not. It is clearly not the complete planning, directing, controlling and reviewing function that would have been recognised as classical, scientific managerialism in the 1950s. My reservation about this approach to defining consulting by contrast with management, is that management is reinventing itself to address the right first time, self managed teams, innovative, flexible, customer-responsive, knowledge rich, devolved and empowered front line culture. Many managers understand that a (possibly the) key to success lies in reducing reliance on formal managerial authority, rules, procedures and the narrow functional division of work. Stimulating effective teamwork, the creation of a positive change climate and the nurturing of new competencies are all part of the new managerial order. Managers from this new order do not, I believe, provide such a stark contrast with the internal consultant as Peter Block would have us believe?
Prokopenko, Johri and Cooper appear to share my reservations. They write: "anyone whose main job is to help individual managers, divisions or organisations to be more
effective in whatever they do could be considered a management consultant. Indeed, nearly every manager and staff professional in an organisation is called on to consult and advise others on how best to proceed or to gain commitments to change."7
They continue: "… an internal management consultant can be defined as an active management service practitioner who analyses managerial activities, problems and processes; make evaluations and recommends improvements and solutions and whenever possible and if requested assists in implementing these recommendations."8
If the distinction between the managerial and consulting role is blurred is there, perhaps, a distinction to be drawn at a more subtle level? Thomas and Elbeik contend that there is – at the level of "mindset".
Old Management Mindset Internal Consultant Mindset I am in control I serve I direct and command I help to facilitate People come to me I go to people I breed dependency I promote independence Status and position are Status/position unimportant important I think processes I think functionality I like blurred roles I like clear boundaries
This contrast in terms of "mindset" seems to have some practical value. It certainly helps me to understand why I have a personal predisposition towards a consultancy style.
Block contends that consultants have as their goals interventions. These are of two sorts: organisational and to do with learning. The first type concerns change in organisational structure, policy, procedure or system. The second type is the end result that one person or many people may learn something new. However, Block's detractors may say that he is a man enthralled by learning, who calls one of his businesses "Designed Learning" and who has written: "consulting is primarily an educational process."10
Would that more consultants took this view.
There are significant differences in the approach that Block and Markham take. Markham signals this early. On page 1 of "The Top Consultant" he writes: "consultancy is 'delivering specialist skills from outside the organisation.'" Markham generally asserts that being outside the organisation is key to the definition of expert consultancy that he uses. Though he does allow for the notion of internal consultant he sees this person as a rather specialist management consultant.
Larry Greiner and Robert Metzger provide an elaborate definition of management consulting in their 1983 book "Consulting to Management"11. This also clearly places the consultant out with the organisation:
"Management consulting is an advisory service contracted for and provided to organisations by specially trained and qualified persons who assist, in an objective and independent manner, the client organization to identify problems, analyse such problems, recommend solutions to these problems and help, when requested, in the implementation of solutions."
Calvert and Greiner and Metzger, in placing such emphasis on the importance of the consultant being outside the client organisation, seem to me to court danger. Organisations are today found with such a range of shapes and with such permeable boundaries that it is sometimes difficult to know where "inside" and "outside" are. This is illustrated by the increasing difficulty the Inland Revenue has had in making it clear to people who engage consultants on a contract of service how these engagements differ from the engagement of staff on a contract of employment basis. The distinction, pressed by the Inland Revenue, that the consultant should supply all the resources needed themselves and that the employee can expect to be equipped by the employer is blurred when organisations provide desks and facilities to consultants and require staff to work at home.
What is inside the organisation and what is outside can also become a grey area when a consultancy unit is established as a cost and profit centre with a brief to meet the needs of the parent organisation and to trade successfully in the open market. A further difficulty arises with the centrality of the "outside" the organisation criteria when one considers two more aspects of organisational permeability. On the one hand organisations are becoming more like networks and less like organisations. To quote "The Economist" of 29 July, 1989, (page 82):
"The newest trend in organisations is almost a non-organisation: networks. The theory here is that a company is at heart little more than a network of people with specialised skills. As opportunities arise, the firm re-shapes itself into whatever form is necessary for it to prosper. Examples of successful networking include the informally assembled team that built IBM's first personal computer. Working outside the normal corporate bureaucracy, it developed one of IBM's most successful products, in record time. Now that's organisation!"
Prokopenko, Johri and Cooper write: "… organisations are becoming boundary less by creating alliances with customers, suppliers and in many cases even with competitors. In this context we may need to revise or reinterpret the term "internal" as applied to internal consultants."12 This absence of boundary opens up the possibility that the internal consulting team may also provide services to external clients – moving them, as Prokopenko, Johri and Cooper note, from "cost centre to a new position as profit centre and valuable contributor to corporate success."13
On the other hand, there are the external consultants who appear to have more permanence than many of the staff especially when so many of these are being recruited on temporary or limited term contracts. Understandably, this perception (that staff come and go but the consultancy is here for the long term) can be the source of immense disquiet, not to say resentment, amongst staff. These feelings will, of course, be heightened if the impression is gained that de-layering or outsourcing decisions are being made on the advice of consultants at the expense of jobs or career opportunities in the organisation itself.
Whilst some organisations have a vested interested in defining management consultancy in terms of its origination (outside the client organisation) other writers argue otherwise. As I have suggested, it is increasingly difficult to decide what exactly is inside and what is outside of the organisation and Block, in any case, accepts that consultants may be internal or external to the organisation. It is not a key part of his definition that they offer their specialist skills from outside the organisation. Block, indeed, believes that many people in "staff positions"† in organisations normally operate as consultants.
Quite naturally, the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), which represents the major consulting firmsψ, provides a definition that highlights the independence of the management consultant. The MCA definition is clearer about the importance of the independence of the advice and assistance than about many other aspects of their definition. Perhaps, however, this is inevitable in the case of a definition probably crafted by committee to reflect the disparate interests of a wide range of management consultancies. The MCA definition is:
"The rendering of independent advice and assistance about management issues. This typically includes identifying and investigating problems and/or opportunities, recommending appropriate action and helping to implement those recommendations."
The Institute of Management Consultancy* (IMC) also place emphasis on the independence of the management consultant in their definition of consultancy:
This is a peculiarly North American title used to identify central or business support staff employed in personnel, financial analysis, audit, systems analysis, market research, organisational development, safety and HRD functions, for example. * The IMC, founded in 1962, has about 3450 members. There are four grades of membership: affiliate, associate, member and fellow.
"The service provided to business, public or other undertakings by an independent and qualified person or persons in identifying and investigating problems concerned with policy, organization, procedures and methods, recommending appropriate action and helping to implement those recommendations."
Independence is, of course, not to be confused with external location. External consultants can lack independence for all manner of reasons.
It is interesting to note that the IMC definition does not expressly refer to management by name – though the types of problems cited might all be considered essentially managerial.
There is some evidence that the MCA and the IMC, working jointly with the Management Consultancy Business School, have recognised the need to address the debate about whether management consultancy is an industry or a profession. This question, which few trade associations and institutes seem to be able to avoid in the first 30 to 50 years of their lives, came into focus first with the publication of Stanley Hyman's book, "An Introduction to Management Consultancy" in 1961.
Hyman rehearsed the tests of professional status in relation to management consultancy and concluded that, at that time, the industry was not a profession. It must, however, be recognised that the development of the concept of "profession" in the UK has not been without difficulty. Clifford D Sharp, in a paper delivered to the Staple Inn Actuarial Society on June 8 1999, quotes Clare Bellis as follows:
"Despite the inconsistencies the definitions [of profession] can be distilled to identify three main strands, cognitive, normative and organisational (where) cognitive items include specialised knowledge and long training, normative items include such things as ethical standards and a commitment to provide a service for the public good – organisational items such as a national body with disciplinary powers to support the cognitive and normative aspects." Sharp then goes on to highlight other aspects of the term "profession". Members of a profession, he says, "place the responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community before their responsibility to the profession, to sectional or private interests" and "they should apply their skill and knowledge in the interests of their employer or client for whom they must act in professional matters as faithful agents or trustees."14 Management consultants seem to have made some progress in identifying a body of established knowledge (significant enough to form the basis for the MSc in Management Consultancy awarded by the University of Surrey); in training recruits to meet the Certified Management Consultant* qualification benchmark (now recognised in 25 countries through the partnership activities of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes) and in developing a sense of responsibility towards clients. Indeed, with delightful candour, the IMC have published a questionnaire that was used in the early 1990's to assess the extent to which experienced management consultants would agree on certain ethical dilemmas. This simple questionnaire was designed to show the large measure of agreement that was expected amongst a group of predominantly older, white and male management consultants. In fact the survey showed that the differences in opinion on a range of issues were considerable. Here are a few situations and assessments drawn from this questionnaire:
A CMC must have a degree or equivalent professional qualification, be a practising management consultant with five years' full-time consultancy experience – unless the individual is a member of an IMC recognised training practice, in which case the requirement is three years.
Situation You have a home computer but do not have the same software that you use in the office. Your boss says it is ok to take the software home and copy it. The bank makes a £100 error in your favour – you decide to let them find it. Your client already knows the solution that they want to the problem. I own a few shares in my client. My business partner, a chartered accountant, is auditor to my client. My business partner, a lawyer, is legal adviser to my client. Fig X.xx15
Wrong Wrong but acceptable 33% 52%
52% 43% 60% 62% 55%
43% 14% 0% 5% 0%
5% 43% 40% 33% 45%
Despite the difficulties that these varied responses might suggest, the IMC has now published an agreed "Code of professional conduct" which is based on three principles: • Meeting the client's requirements ("a member shall regard the client's requirements and interests as paramount"16); • Integrity, independence and objectivity ("a member shall avoid any action or situation inconsistent with the member's professional obligations or that in any way might be seen to impair the member's integrity. In formulating advice and recommendations, the member will be guided solely by the member's objective view of the client's best interests"17); • Responsibility to the profession and to the Institute ("a member's conduct shall at all times endeavour to enhance the standing and public recognition of the profession and the Institute"18). These principles are underpinned by detailed rules.
The trade association of the larger consultancy firms in the UK (the Management Consultancies Association) also has a code of conduct consisting of five, relatively brief, rules and a right to exclude MCA members who contravene these strictures.
Chapter 2: The scope and skills of management consultancy
A management consultant is an individual who borrows your watch to tell the time and then walks off with it. The aim of this chapter is to begin to answer a number of my critical questions. I have selected the management consultancy industry for investigation for a number of reasons.
First, because my own organisation appears to model it's approach to actuarial consulting on management consultancy. Second, because we are actively encouraging our consultants to undertake internal training and external accredited learning at Masters level which are designed around a management consultancy model. Third, because in the HR Training team we use a number of management consultants to contribute to projects and design and develop specialist training. Fourth, because I am interested in the nature of the relationship between manager and management consultant. To what extent, for example, might this relationship suggest a model that could be used to develop the internal consultancy relationship between HR Training Adviser and internal client?
This Chapter will, therefore, fall into two parts. The first part will analyse the management consultancy profession or industry from a number of perspectives, consider its relationship to management and management development and aim to highlight those aspects of the practice of the profession or industry that may be of value given my objectives.
The second part of the Chapter will draw together my findings concerning the consulting skills which appear to be being used in the management consultancy industry or profession, examine how they are being used and consider what applications these may have to an HR team within an organisation. At the heart of this second part will be the following hypothesis – if the management consultancy industry is so successful (and that begs the question whether it is or not), what skills and approaches can be learnt and transferred into internal consultancy practice in the HRD field.
Part One: The management consultancy industry
Advice to Vodafone from a firm of management consultants when choosing the company name: "No company beginning with the letter V has ever been successful." Volkswagen and Volvo excepted, they might have said. But didn't.19
The global consultancy market is big business. In 1997 "Management Today" (March 1997, page 33) estimated that the market was worth around $40 billion, $15 billion of that in the US. Upwards of 100,000 of the most highly qualified people in the world are now employed in consultancy businesses worldwide. A top-level consultant with one of the big firms (McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Anderson, PriceWaterhouseCoopers) bills at least £3,000 per day and, on average, a McKinsey employee generates income approaching $500,000 a year.
Individually, "blue chip" organisations appear to spend lavishly on consultancy – though apparently AT&T's declared total of $347 million (in 1993) is an all time record.20
During the period from 1997 to 2000 the Gartner Group estimated that management consultants fee income would double.
Whilst client organisations down size we have witnessed the steady growth in the number of consultants employed to absorb or advise on the out-sourced functions. The scope of the consultancy offer is ever widening. "When British Gas's TransCo pipeline business faced the simultaneous need to break itself up, introduce a new market for gas and conform to a new regulatory formula …it "had consultants crawling all over the 24
place", in the words of one executive."21 Privatisation and the marketisation of the public sector has created a huge new market, whilst the deregulation, de-mutualisation, re-regulation and mergers and acquisitions endemic in the financial services sector have all created further opportunities for consultants.22
The growth of consultancy, it is suggested, is not without other costs. These may include "outsourcing of the basic job of management" which saps "managers' ability to reclaim responsibility even if they wanted to" according to Eileen Shapiro23 (formerly a McKinsey consultant) and the recycling of standard solutions to common problems. Greiner and Metzger 24 argue that management consultants "define the problem one way and then implement a solution that fits only a pet idea of the consultant or the client". Commenting on this observation, Clive Rassam writes25: "off the shelf solutions are not always appropriate". At the prices charged by the leading consultancies one might expect not to have to put up with anything "off the shelf" – but that is clearly not the case.
Costly consultancy may fulfil another function for clients. It may serve to underwrite top management's own status and responsibilities. ("See how vital and difficult this reorganisation is? The consultant's report alone cost $1 million!")
One critical question irksome to management consultants and embarrassing to managers is why, exactly, managers should pay for advice on what they themselves are paid to do – that is, run their companies. John Peet, writing in "The Economist"26, suggested that clients call in consultants because they do not know what to do next, because it is fashionable, to get a seal of approval for a course of action already
agreed, to strengthen the case for a favoured (but disputed) course of action or even to provide a pretext for sacking particular managers. In the early 1970s the Association of Internal Management Consultants was formed in the USA. At that time, in the USA, there were thought to be about one hundred companies using internal consultants but ten years later the American Association of Management Consultants found that internal consulting was the fastest growing segment of the consulting business.
Prokopenko, Johri and Cooper assert that 100,000 people were working in internal consultancy units in the UK – the Institute of Management Services having 11,000 members in 1988 and the Civil Service having 5,681 staff engaged in internal consulting.
Part Two: Consulting models in the industry
If we now turn to the management consulting industry for a single model of consulting practice that may be useful to us in our consideration of internal consultancy approaches we will be disappointed. The industry employs a number of models that, together with "consulting values", may be seen to influence the consulting process that a particular consultant offers.
There is almost a sense in which we need to be clear first about what a management consultant "is" before we begin to consider what the consultant "does". What the management consultant is will be seen in their approach, style and development and these attributes may be expected to connect with the consultant's guiding values, ethics and principles. Values, ethics and principles will also have a complex but vital relationship with the set of assumptions and beliefs that the individual brings to the role they play as a management consultant. Indeed, it might be argued that the two domains are simply two main facets of the individual's belief system. They make up that individual's "world view". This worldview may be more or less tacit or acknowledged. Some consultants may prefer to talk in terms of paradigm. In this context, paradigm might be described as an underlying worldview, possibly largely tacit, that leads the individual, the consultancy or the wider constituency of interests to perceive and interpret the world without necessarily being aware of the assumptions being made. Discussion is further complicated by the fact that many management consultants are not lone operators and their consulting approach will be significantly influenced by the values of their firm as expressed in the culture of that organisation.
One might expect consulting values to remain relatively stable over a reasonable period. A consultant exhibiting instability in this area might well be a consultant to
avoid engaging, at least for the time being. As values concern the heart – what one is passionate about and will not give up – they tend to form an anchor. Without this anchor behaviour may become unpredictable.
The importance of this anchor in management consulting is that it influences (but isn't the same as) "the way the consultant works". Their consulting approach or styles are functions or enactments of the beliefs, values and assumptions that they and, quite possibly their firm, bring to the consultancy. I am here referring to the general character, the aura, and the overall tone of the consultancy.
The tone of the consultancy will be influenced by certain qualities of the individual which, whilst difficult to describe are, nonetheless, instantly recognisable. I am referring here to the gravitas, presence, centredness, confidence and poise that come from emotional competence, high self esteem and having a positive self-concept. Being present requires "not being disabled by anxiety, and so being open to others rather than closed27". Presence has a number of enemies – apathy, lack of centredness or facilitation skills, the failure to manage emotions and general anxiety amongst them. Edwin Nevis, a gestalt practitioner, considers that presence is central to the role of consultant: "in the process of helping the client system to improve its functioning, the consultant is to provide a presence that is otherwise lacking."28 Nevis believes that consultants are to use "certain values, attitudes and skills … to stimulate, and perhaps evoke from the client, action that is necessary for movement on its problems…"29 Gerard Egan strongly urges any person in a helping role to invest in what he describes as psychological presence: "physical attending", he writes, "is a matter of being present to another; listening is what you do to attend."30 Peter Block advocates "authentic behaviour", Nevis highlights the way in which the consultant, by selectively sharing
their own feelings, can establish their presence in the relationship. The key decision is probably around the selection of what to share and what not to share.
Within this general character there may be preferences for a particular way of working. However, it appears that many management consultants can draw on a wide repertoire of ways of working and, indeed, this is a distinct advantage for the client. This feature may well be what the client is most keen to secure.
Before beginning to consider a range of management consulting models it is worthwhile commenting on the relative lack of published academic material on this subject. Management consulting is still relatively young as a profession, management consultancies are traditionally secretive (some exceptionally so) and the methods of training used have, until recently, been based almost exclusively on the apprenticeship model – work experience and internal training. It would, it seems to me, be perfectly possible to gain a completely erroneous view of management consultancy models from the published literature because so much has come from the organisational developers. OD practice is founded on strong humanistic principles and OD practitioners have been prepared to discuss their models and ideas in an academic context. This is helpful in the sense that I am interested in exploring the contribution that internal consultancy may make to organisational development. It is potentially unhelpful in the sense that the published literature speaks volumes about OD and related practice but in terms of rigorous, analytical work on management consultancy, is relatively silent.
Indeed, such is the dominance of the OD specialists in the published literature; it is worth stopping for a moment and considering the principal ways in which consultants
are used. Kubr considers that "most of the consulting assistance to management will be given in one or more of the following ten ways: • • • • • • • • • • Providing information Providing specialist resources Establishing business contacts and linkages Proving expert opinion Doing diagnostic work Developing action proposals Improving systems and methods Planning and managing organisational changes Training and developing management and staff Providing personal counselling."31
Certain of the models following are more closely associated with some of these forms of assistance than others. Some of the models discussed below are entirely unsuitable for use in connection with some of these forms of assistance.
Perhaps the most commonly discussed model for consulting practice might be called the doctor-patient model. The very title harks back to the, once popular, nickname for management consultants: "company doctors". This model works on the assumption that the client company is suffering from some illness that needs to be cured. The consultant first takes a history, considers the symptoms and then moves on to making a diagnosis. This diagnosis is agreed with the "patient" "who" is then issued with a prescription. This document, the consultant's report, will not only describe the
medicine that needs to be taken, at what frequency and over what period, but may also detail "operations", "blood letting" and other treatments which should be carried out.
It would be possible to further elaborate the model by drawing parallels between the consultant's firm and the consultant surgeon's firm, the role of "juniors" in carrying out the assignment (once the senior consultant has completed the front end work), the possible need for "injections" of new ideas or methods and other forms of therapy. It is also clear that the doctor-patient model draws upon the notion of the consultant as expert and assumes a relatively passive and uninformed patient. This model presupposes, I think, a consultant who knows what good health is, a patient resigned to the belief that they are "sick" and a relatively poorly balanced power relationship between consultant and client.
Bob Garratt, a management consultant who was for many years Secretary of the Association of Management Education and Development, identified32 three styles in consulting practice: expertise consulting, process consulting and contingent consulting. Garratt's "expertise consulting" also has echoes of medicine.
Garratt likens expertise consulting to surgery. It is a drastic intervention with, often, irreversible outcomes. It involves an acknowledged expert (e.g., a consulting engineer or an information systems specialist) being invited into an organisation to provide a solution to an identified problem. Expertise consulting can be high on logic and rationality and low on involvement or client ownership. It is most useful when the client has a new and unfamiliar problem that is not expected to recur and where there is a pressing deadline to meet.
In the features of the medical, doctor-patient, surgical or expertise model I see some possible dangers. Not least amongst these are:
• the passive role which the consultant expects the client to perform; • the possible temptation to arrogance on the part of the consultant; • the fictional (see box below) notion of causal relationships and the
validity of linear organisational analysis;
• the difficulty of creating genuine partnership between client and
consultant when this model is presupposed;
• the "requirement", for this model to work, that the client see themselves
or their organisation (or both) as diseased or unhealthy. This last "requirement" is particularly restrictive and, I think, peculiar. It rules out the perfectly reasonable case of the organisation that sees itself as perfectly healthy but in need of improvement. Somehow this model of consulting requires that the client buy into the notion of being "unable" – which may be far from the truth.
The fictional notion of cause and effect and the validity of linear organisational analysis In my experience, expert consultants sometimes produce reports that rely on highly simplifying notions of cause and effect (X definitely took place solely because Y was allowed to repeat and consequence W was the result) and are based on a linear paradigm. Organisations are, however, much more complex than this analysis would suggest.
Why then do organisations buy into this simplification? I suggest that it is sometimes explicable by a lack of willingness, common until quite recently, to
accept the essentially chaotic nature of much organisational life. Managers brought up on the conventions of scientific management naturally find this challenging. Expert consultants seem to meet a need for the simplicity of certainty and predictability and clients and consultants collude in preferring this to what Lewin refers to as the "organised, interconnected, interdependent, interactive nature of the whole"33 – which is so much less amenable to linear, causal analysis and simple description.
The medical patient entering hospital for the first time is likely to be concerned about the results of putting him- or herself in the hands of the "experts". David Maister summarises the insecurities of the client about to place themselves in the hands of the expert consultant with, I think, considerable insight: 1. "I'm feeling insecure. I'm not sure I know how to detect which of the finalists is the genius, and which is just good. I've exhausted my abilities to make technical distinctions. 2. I'm feeling threatened. This is my area of responsibility, and even though intellectually I know I need outside expertise, emotionally it's not comfortable to put my affairs in the hand of others. 3. I'm taking a personal risk. By putting myself in the hands of others I risk losing control. 4. I'm impatient. I didn't call anyone in at the first sign of symptoms (or opportunity). I've been thinking about this for a while. 5. I'm worried. By the very fact of suggesting improvements or changes, these people are going to be implying that I haven't done it right up till now. Are these people going to be on my side? 6. I'm exposed. Whoever I hire, I'm going to reveal some proprietary secrets, not all of which are flattering. I will have to undress. 7. I'm feeling ignorant and I don't like the feeling. I don't know if I have got a simple problem or a complex one. I'm not sure I can trust them to be honest about that: it's in their interest to convince me it's complex.
8. I'm sceptical. I've been burned before by these kinds of people. You get a lot of promises: How do I know whose promise I should buy? 9. I'm concerned that they either can't or won't take the time to understand what makes my situation special. They'll try to sell me what they've got rather than what I need. 10. I'm suspicious. Will they be those typical professionals who are hard to get hold of, who are patronising, who leave you out of the loop, who befuddle you with jargon, who don't explain what they're re-doing or why, who…, who …, who …? In short, will these people deal with me in the way I want to be dealt with?" Figure: X.xx34 The medical, doctor-patient or expert role, whilst subject to criticism, has the advantage of being well established. It is used especially to refer to the situations where the client needs expertise or a particular resource. This might include supplying information, diagnosing the organisation, undertaking a feasibility study, designing a new system, training staff in a new technique, recommending organisational and other changes or commenting on a proposed project.
A second model is the sales model. In this case the consultant has a product or service and will go searching for a potential client with the appropriate need. This modus operandi is one that has the potential to reinforce a number of the negative stereotypes associated with management consulting. In cases where the consultant is poorly trained and too eager (s) he may unwittingly be cast in the role of consultant with a proprietary solution to a problem which the client may not have accepted they have. In certain cases, IT consultancy for example, this may indeed be the case. Even here, however, the consultant needs to be able to present features as benefits and talk about modifications, bespoke adaptations and personal after care services such as training and technical support.
A third model is that of the travel agent. This is the model preferred by Charles J Margerison in his book "Managerial Consulting Skills"35. Margerison "assumes that the client is on a journey. The clients may not always know specifically where they wish to go or how to get there. It is the job of the consultant to go through their objectives and to work out the best means to reach their destination."
Margerison goes on to explain that he helps managers decide for themselves where they wish to go and how they wish to travel. He does this by "designing the vehicles36" for the managers to use. These include various sorts of meetings to achieve a range of objectives connected with the journey. Margerison describes his "code" which he uses to guide his consultancy of this type:
"D = Destinations. Where does this client want to go? V = Vehicles. What methods are available for getting there? M = Maps. How can the client understand what has to be done en route?"37
I see echoes here of the classic (Carl) Rogerian model of counselling (or therapy). Rogers believed passionately that people could gain effective control of their lives if they were helped to understand where they had come from, where they are now and where they want to be. The Rogerian counsellor's role is to help the client understand this and provide the motivation to purposeful action.
This counselling model sees the client as the individual human being and not the corporation or the plc but there are echoes of this approach in what has become known as process consulting.
From time to time, in discussing management consulting models, I have heard people talk about consulting "process". Generally, it is the "underpinning logic" of consultancy that people intend to refer to, but the use of the word "process" is beset with difficulties. Learning specialists may well use the term to mean the way in which skills are learnt, adapted and adopted for use in a particular context by a given individual. Organisational development specialists often mean to refer to the human interaction aspects of organisations when they talk about process. Psychologists or those influenced by them may intend something quite different. Process, in other management consultancy contexts, may mean the entire business activity through which value is added and a return on the investment generated as in the case of "business process re-engineering". For all these reasons it is critically important that a reasonably clear definition of process consulting is adopted.
Process consulting, for Garratt, is like therapy. It involves people much more because it concerns the people based problem-solving aspects of management.
Edgar Schein, who some regard as the originator of process consulting, describes it as: "a set of activities on the part of the consultant that help the client to perceive, understand, and act upon the process events that occur in the client's environment"38. I don't find this a very satisfactory definition as the concept of "process events" is at the heart of the explanation and, therefore, remains unexplained!
Milan Kubr offers39, perhaps, a more satisfactory definition of process consulting: "[helping] the organisation to solve its own problems by making it aware of organisational processes, of their likely consequences, and of intervention techniques
for stimulating change". For Kubr the process consultant is primarily concerned "with passing on his or her approach, methods and values so that the client organisation itself can diagnose and remedy its own problems."40
Schein explains that the "most central premise of process consulting is that the client owns the problem and continues to own it throughout the consultation process. The consultant can help the client to deal with the problem, but the consultant never takes the problem onto his own shoulders."41
Process consulting is most useful when the problems are complex and not well defined, when there is a need for the client to be thoroughly involved in the resolution of the problem and where there is a continuing need to develop problem solving skills in the area concerned.
Many commentators distinguish between expert and process consulting. Thomas and Elbeik42, for example, highlight some characteristic advantages of expert consulting. It can, they say, provide a fast or quick response to a problem; is often highly focused; may apply exactly the right expertise to the problem and has high impact. "Directive" in style, operating at the "tell" end of the spectrum, expert consulting may breed client dependency. Yet technically neat and logical solutions may be delivered into a vacuum (and deposited on a shelf) because the client commitment has not been developed. Expert consulting can also deliver the wrong solution, through lack of understanding combined with little client ownership and no client commitment and this can lead to a greatly reduced level of client confidence.
One result of an excessive use of expert consulting is that it can lower the collective morale of an organisation, which is, effectively and constantly, being "told" that it does not have the expertise to solve its own problems. Expert consulting, overused, may also diminish or devalue the intellectual capital in the organisation and create a dependency culture – healthy, perhaps, for the consultant but distinctly unhealthy for the client.
Process consulting, whilst having the disadvantages of being not particularly fast and possibly supplying the wrong expertise has the compensating advantages of offering solutions through high levels of client ownership and commitment both of which build the client's confidence in the process and can be significantly motivational. Process consultants work on the assumption that the client has the necessary expertise to reach a solution but needs help – facilitation – in unearthing this dynamic.
Though attractive in many ways, in this respect, process consultants may, of course, be wrong! The organisation may not have the expertise needed.
One of the problems with many bi-polar models (like the Westminster model of government and opposition) is that they tend to lead to, often fruitless, argument about which polar opposite is better or more effective. In the case of these two models (expert and process) there are a number of reasons why this argument of pre-eminence is being avoided. First, there appears to be recognition that the two models have application in particular situations and should be seen as complementary and not competitive. Second, many technical, expert consultants recognise that the medical/doctor-patient model has most power when combined with an awareness of process and organisational dynamics. Third, many organisational development
specialists (for whom the process model may have considerable attraction) accept that they need to combine their process consulting orientation with technical, financial, political and economic expertise in order to effect organisational change.
Multiple Roles of the Consultant
Reflector Process specialist Fact finder Alternative identifier Collaborator in Trainer/ problem-solving educator Technical expert Advocate
Client Consultant Level of consultant activity in problem solving
NON-DIRECTIVE Raises questions for reflection Observes problem solving processes and raises issues mirroring feedback Gathers data and stimulates thinking Identifies alternatives and resources for client and helps assess consequences Offers alternatives and participates in decisions Trains the client and designs learning experiences DIRECTIVE Provides information and suggestions for policy or practice decisions Proposes guidelines, persuades or directs in the problem solving process
Figure: X.. xx43
It is argued that a flexible approach is most beneficial. This flexibility can be achieved in different ways. Garratt writes about contingent consulting and implies that it is an integration of the two extreme models, whereas others argue for a flexible consulting style which employs insights and approaches from both expert and process model at different stages in a project to achieve the desired outcome. Gordon and Ronald Lippitt develop this further by employing a non-directive and directive continuum (see Figure X.xx, above) and also agree that the consultant may play a range of roles situational as the project or assignment progresses and the relationship with the client evolves.
Thomas and Elbeik simplify the non-directive / directive continuum and refer to the consultant's listening and telling modes of operation. This may be illustrated with a diagram, which I have adapted from Thomas and Elbeik44:
"Knowing where to be on the ListeningTelling continuum throughout the project is one of my key skills"
Use of client's knowledge and experience Telling
Use of consultant's knowledge and experience
Thomas and Elbeik associate listening with the process consultancy model and telling with the expert model and summarise one result of this in the following observation: "Process consulting demands that you focus not only on the problem but also on the client."45 (Italics supplied)
Contingent consulting has, for me, echoes of both facilitation and non-directive counselling. Bob Garratt describes contingent consulting as follows:
"It attempts to integrate the expertise and process practices when appropriate to the progression of the organisation's problem … relying on the asking of high quality questions and developing an information-based approach to problem-solving."46
Sally Garratt comments that, in using a consultant who operates in this way, "the client is not buying that consultant's expert knowledge of the subject to unravel the problem, but rather his intelligence and naivety."47 Contingent consulting appears to involve restating or reframing the problem in such a way that the client's values are brought to the surface together with one or more solutions.
Part Three: Application Case Studies
What application do these skills have to an HR training or a Marketing team within an organisation?
Chapter 3: The skills and models of the Internal Consultant
Peter Block (who is primarily concerned with the internal consultant) suggests that the consultant needs three types of skill to function effectively: technical skill, interpersonal skill and consulting skill. Each is essential. Calvert Markham, in "The Top Consultant",48 takes a somewhat different view about the trinity of skills needed. Markham agrees that technical and consultancy skills are essential but he replaces interpersonal skills with "applications skills": experience or knowledge of the application of the specialist skill to a specific area.
These differences between the types of skills required are a clear indicator of consultancy style. Markham takes an approach to consultancy that is readily identified as being of the "expert" type. (At the other end of this spectrum there lies the "process" type of consultancy). Markham, therefore, sees the consultant's power deriving primarily from the knowledge, skill, experience and know-how that gain them admission to the organisation. Markham writes from the power base of the expert, well illustrated by two quotations: • • "If you do not have the expertise, then you cannot act as an expert." "If you are not credited with any expertise, you will have no expert power."49
I note here the strong emphasis on power.
However, even a highly relevant technical expertise may not be sufficient to operate successfully as an internal consultant, as the writings of RG Harrison suggest. Harrison
has a background in management services and consultancy experience in both the public and the private sector. Writing in 1981 in "Management Services"50 he argues that the professional expertise of the management services practitioner is rarely sufficient to enable him/her to function effectively as an internal consultant. Harrison's paper is particularly helpful because in the early 1980's management services practitioners in the public sector, especially, were engaged in the process of reevaluating their contribution to the effectiveness of organisations. Harrison argues that, in two of the functions of management consultancy the MS expert performed well but in a final functional area the MS expert was most often notable for his/her absence. The Management Services Practitioner's Scorecard in 1981 – marked by R G Harrison 1 Identifying a problem 2 Recommending a solution 3 Helping with implementation
Harrison claims that MS practitioners were good at identifying the problem, getting beneath symptoms to unearth root causes and the consequences of the problem. He believes that MS practitioners were good at exploring the costs and consequences of inaction.
Developing and recommending a solution was also well within the capability of the MS practitioner. Indeed, "their technical training and professional orientation are geared towards competent diagnosis followed by the design of technically elegant solutions,"51 he writes.
What Harrison recognised was that the MS practitioner often departed the scene at this point. MS practitioners, at this time, were offering sophisticated diagnosis followed by elaborate technical solutions delivered in a beautifully produced report that ignored the political, cultural and emotional aspects of the change process. Moreover, the MS practitioner, according to Harrison, invariably abandoned the client "precisely at the point where he must begin to take the difficult yet decisive steps towards action and implementation."52 Little wonder that MS practitioners were not, according to Harrison, particularly successful as consultants, at this time.
Though Harrison does not advance this view personally, I wonder if the skill-set of the MS practitioner/internal consultant was deficient in respect of some of the soft (or permanentΨ skills that I discuss later in this Chapter.
The parallels here with some training practice today impressed me forcibly. How often do trainers provide the analysis and the models in a vacuum but then fail to support the process of change as the manager implements what they have learnt?
How often does the trainer follow the delegate back to work from the course and see to what extent they actually use any of the skills that have been taught? Would that not be a way of deciding if anything had been learnt? Trainers who wish to follow the pathway to consulting, which Keri Phillips and Patricia Shaw claim to be characterised by a movement from the left to the right on any of the five dimensions set out below, are probably going to be at least this creative.
Narrower Lesser Shorter Single Reactive
Organisational Perspective Degree of influence Timescale of Projects Levels of Working Orientation
Wider Greater Longer Multiple Proactive
Figure 4.153 Just as MS practitioners needed, in Harrison's view, to be aware that previous experience might only take them so far in internal consultancy, so the trainer (in the view of Phillips and Shaw) needs to be wary of certain learnt behaviours that may be a barrier to effective consultancy. Trainers who seek to become consultants may need, they say, to learn to let go of "performing" before groups; learn to let go of control and learn to let go of predictability and what comes next. They say:
“Since as a consultant he is not there to teach or train people but to help them learn, problem-solve and develop, his skills in helping people memorise things will not be sufficient. Providing instant understanding, making sense of everything for everyone, may not help everyone learn, least of all himself."54
I notice here that the trainer who functions as facilitator of adult learning (rather than as didact) will have the advantage, if we wholly accept Phillips and Shaw's argument, in the transition to consultancy.
Harrison also recognised that the MS practitioner who wanted to act as internal consultant needed to "engage and manage the client's commitment to solving the problem and develop a suitable strategy for implementing the proposed solution, which will cope with the resource constraints and political obstacles which so often inhibit change. Developing client commitment and planning for implementation call for other skills beyond sheer technical/analytical ability. Interpersonal competence and political judgement are essential ingredients."55
Thomas and Elbeik suggest56 a number of key skills of critical importance to the internal consultant. These include: • • • • The ability to supply fresh and independent analysis. The ability to provide top quality advice, in the right manner and at the right time. The facility to empower teams to develop their own solutions. The knowledge and the confidence to think outside the immediate, or the personal functional "box", and help clients develop solutions that display a strategic business perspective. • The confidence to cope with considerable personal and organisational ambiguity and still retain credibility. • The competence (and willingness) to challenge and confront senior colleagues without appearing rude, arrogant or patronizing. • • • Marketing skills. The ability to manage a number of client assignments coterminously. The ability to listen (really listen) to the client, communicate understanding and suggest to the client that they [italics supplied] are the central focus of your work now. • The capacity to negotiate and agree terms of reference in a constrained, internal market. • • Desk and field research skills. Interview, questionnaire design and analysis, process mapping and organisational analysis skills. • • Challenging and probing skills. Project management skills.
Report writing and presentation skills.♣
In larger scale projects there may also be the need to manage the input from a range of internal consultancy staff.
Considering this discussion about key skills for process consulting, it appears to me, that there are other skills that will assist the consultant – mostly in the area of establishing effective, quality relationships with clients. These would seem to include the following types of skills often developed through counselling and psychotherapy training and practice:
• • • •
Having a strong base of self esteem Really listening to clients Refusing to be rushed through the contracting stage Expressing consultant’s wants for the project as well as finding out what the client wants - negotiating wants and offers
• • •
Paying attention to any feelings of unease experienced in early meetings Being willing to ask direct questions Giving and receiving feedback on the progress of the relationship.
The process consultant, Edgar Schein, produces a rich list of factors that, he says, affect an individual's ability to "build, maintain, improve and, if need be, repair face to face relationships" which are so critical to success in all forms of consultancy. These are nine-fold and summarised as:
"Self-insight and a sense of one's own identity;
Cross-cultural sensitivity – the ability to decipher other people's values; Cultural/moral humility – the ability to see one's own value system as not necessarily better or worse than another's values;
A proactive problem solving orientation – the conviction that interpersonal and cross-cultural problems can be solved;
Personal flexibility – the ability to adopt different responses and approaches as needed by situational contingencies;
Negotiation skills – the ability to explore differences creatively, to locate some common ground and to solve the problem;
Interpersonal and cross-cultural tact – the ability to solve problems with people without insulting them, demeaning them, or destroying their face;
Repair strategies and skills – the ability to resurrect, to revitalize and to rebuild damaged or broken face to face relationships; and,
Of course, the nature of the internal consultancy business and the strategic objectives of the internal consultant will affect the type of skills that are considered most critical. A consultant with an action learning or process consulting practice to develop will be more interested in honing the skills that Schein highlights. If the business is centred, say, on the design and development of knowledge management systems the skills base will be different.
Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd (who have specialised in organisational development) highlight the importance of "extremely well developed systems thinking and awareness of organisational dynamics"58 combined with "a deep awareness of
[personal] biases and values in the consulting processes"59 and the "ability to think conceptually, extracting simple patterns from the internal complexities of organisations".60 Like Thomas and Elbeik they put a premium on the ability to "confront" which they describe as the "courage to challenge internal direction and decisions while still sustaining effective working relationships"61 and Neal and Lloyd also assert that internal consultants need to be able to "coach, share best practice and transfer skills across the organisation."62 Sharing best practice and transferring skills across the organisation is a role that the internal consultant can perform. [Insert quotation from first interview with NT here] Neal and Lloyd also recognise this, writing: "One of the key roles of the internal is to enhance internal capabilities over a prolonged period of time."63
The internal capabilities of organisations may, of course, relate to intellectual capital, process management expertise, managerial effectiveness, corporate governance capability, releasing and promoting corporate vision, quality management – indeed, any of these areas where external consultants may contribute.
In a series of reported case studies, Neal and Lloyd highlight the need for the internal consultant to: • • • "Stay objective [Be] independent [Be] scrupulously honest in not playing people off against each other ot trying to gain favour by siding with the senior manager • Not be intimidated by the seniority of the clients
Preserve confidentiality of any of the one to one discussions with individuals unless there is expressed permission to do so†
Listen carefully and summarise accurately in the diagnosis of the situation Create opportunities for clients to reach their own solutions rather than telling them what's best for them."64
… and … • "Be prepared for a multi-faceted role: coach, support, counsellor, "sheep dog" (at times!), cheerleader, challenger, adviser to senior managers, and be ready to tolerate the ambiguity and manage the potential stress in that."65
In my research I interviewed one trainer offering internal consultancy who described his initial meetings with clients as simply 'frightening' in their ambiguity.
Meaning, unless the individual gives the internal consultant permission to break the code of confidentiality surrounding the one to one discussion.
The multi-faceted nature of internal consultancy seems to have resulted in the writers I have studied and the practitioners I have interviewed, taking a pragmatic and eclectic approach to their practice. I offer this as a tentative observation for a number of reasons:
internal consultancy is neither so well established nor as well understood as external consultancy
there has been time for a body of literature to grow up about the process of external consultancy
those writing about internal consultancy often have an interest in highlighting the similarities rather than the differences between the two
it may be that internal consultants have absorbed the consulting models, developed for, and predominantly by, externals; accepted that they have sufficient transfer value to be helpful in understanding some of what the external does and then moved on.
I have concluded that internal consultants are, typically, not only pragmatic but also eclectic in their use of consulting models and approaches. I think that this is probably because their role is so "multi-faceted".
The internal consultancy literature and the internal consultants I have interviewed recognise the role complexity of the activity they perform and draw on a very wide range of sources to inform both the content and style of their consulting.
A number of writers including Thomas and Elbeik describe a consulting cycle the key stages of which are commonly six fold:
Getting in and contracting with your client Understanding and defining your client's problem
3. Action planning 4. Implementation 5. Reviewing and exiting the project 6. Presenting client feedback.
Sometimes this is, confusingly, called the consulting process model but I shall try to avoid that title.
Thomas and Elbeik make the point that the internal consultant might expect to be excluded from some stages of the project for various reasons and that they should be able to feel comfortable with this ("unless you have done something negative to justify your exclusion"). Even though, say, the client may undertake stages 3 and 4 they emphasise the circularity of the process, rather than its linearity, and strongly urge all consultants to present feedback to the client throughout the process.
Harrison developed and published two alternative role models intended for the internal consultant:
Internal Consultancy: Two Alternative Role Models Problem Centred Person/Client Centred Consultant's The consultant focuses upon his The consultant deals with his General client's problems/difficulties and is client at a personal level seeking Orientation less concerned with his feelings to establish a basic condition of and needs as a person. trust and openness, which is the pre-condition of change and learning. Consulting Intellectual. To diagnose the To establish a climate of Objectives nature, source, causes, and psychological safety. To manage consequences of the problem the client's self -confidence. To conditions of the system. Diffusion improve the client's capacity for / transferral: to generate and learning by dealing with personal transfer our ideal solution. blockages which inhibit growth and/or change. To transfer coping skills rather than solutions. Methods The consultant operates from a No set paradigm exists, but specialist's knowledge base and competent practitioners typically uses standard diagnostic favour a counselling approach procedures to isolate the problem based upon reflective listening and identify the solution or remedy. and the ability to confront when He writes a report to advise the needed. system of this. When/where When the client has a specific An initial stage of almost all appropriate problem which he is able to helping encounters. When the articulate and to resolve and to substantive problems are about which he is already emotionally behaviour, attitude, roles, committed. When the client relationships and other "people" expects structure. When the client issues. is really hurting and needs a speedy solution, often later rather than earlier in the helping cycle. Risks The consultant takes over. Consultant is seen as ineffectual Mystique. Client dependency. or as withholding help. Client "Ideal" solution is rejected because dependency. no psychological ownership by the client. Influence Intellectual competence. Expertise. Trust based upon mutual regard, Basis Ideas and concepts. Ability to genuineness and respect. provide structure. Helping Probing. Evaluating. Interpreting. Reflective understanding. Behaviours Supporting. Encouraging. 66 Figure 4.1 Phillips and Shaw, writing for the trainer, identify close parallels between the so-called "training cycle" and the "consulting cycle":
The Training Cycle Identifying training needs Setting training objectives Selecting methods of validation and evaluation Designing the training course Running the training course Carrying out validation and evaluation Figure: X.XX67
The Consulting Cycle Gaining entry Agreeing a working contract Data collection, analysis and diagnosis Formulating proposals Feedback to clients and decision to act Implementation Follow up
(Notice how their "consulting cycle" broadly parallels Thomas and Elbeik's "stages".) Both training and consulting are cyclical processes but the consulting cycle is likely to encompass overlap between stages and more recycling – underlining the greater ambiguity in consulting work. It is partly this ambiguity that, I suspect, may prevent some trainers making a successful transition to consulting. It is also, I believe, possible that this ambiguity is one reason why the internal consultant is often very eclectic in their use of models. It is my impression that successful internal consultants adopt and adapt models of professional practice from a vast range of disciplines and sources to create solutions for the client. This thinking out of the box coupled with tolerance of the challenge of personal ambiguity and contentment with a relatively simple but robust, consulting cycle model may be part of the secret of their success. The Training Cycle Identifying training needs Setting training objectives Selecting methods of validation and evaluation Designing the training course The Consulting Cycle Gaining entry Agreeing a working contract Data collection, analysis and diagnosis } Formulating proposals } } Feedback to clients and decision to act Implementation Follow up
Running the training course Carrying out validation and evaluation Figure X.XX
Phillips and Shaw then juxtapose the two cycles (as above) to draw attention to the trainer's transferable skills and the areas where, after a move into consulting, the former trainer may feel less well prepared. These are "gaining entry", "agreeing a working contract", "feedback to clients and decision to act" – in all cases where the consulting cycle does not appear to relate to the training cycle.
Drawing on my own experience in guidance and counselling I can also compare this model of the consulting cycle with a "generic" guidance and counselling model, as follows: The Guidance Process Agree a contract with the client Identifying client needs Exploring alternative courses of action Agreeing and planning action (Supporting client taking the action) The Consulting Cycle Gaining entry Agreeing a working contract Data collection, analysis and diagnosis Formulating proposals Feedback to clients and decision to act Implementation Follow up
Follow up Figure: X.XX
Again, this comparative analysis shows where another professional specialism relates to the consulting cycle.
It is interesting to compare these models, developed primarily with the internal consultant in mind, with a model developed by KPMG for their use with external clients. This model is referred to as the engagement cycle within the firm. It contains a number of commercial additions, necessary when operating externally, but is not wholly dissimilar to the Thomas and Elbeik and Phillips and Shaw models we have been examining.
Pre-proposal The KPMG Engagement Cycle
Analysis & Conclusion Alternatives & Recommendations
Close Out & Evaluation
Implementation Figure X:xx68
Reporting & Client Communication
Chapter 4: Insights, benefits and advantages of internal consultancy
"If this happens, you are out of a job, even if they keep you on the payroll."
Throughout this dissertation comparisons between internal and external consultancy have been drawn. Emphasising these differences can obscure the similarities. Both types of consultancy are forms of helping, reliant on others to get their jobs done through people who don't report to them, lacking formal positional power and authority but having considerable influence.
Examining the differences does often point to ways in which the internal consultant may emulate the external or seek to build value added on the basis of the advantages that internal location affords. I have already noted the ambiguity, the complexity of relationships and the impact on the espoused models of practice that can be a strong feature of internal consultancy. In this chapter I aim to focus on the benefits and advantages of internal consultancy – first by direct comparison with external consultants.
Mark Thomas and Sam Elbeik assert that external consultants are:
1) "employed for a fixed period to work on a specific problem 2) potentially able to get the full attention of senior managers more easily – clients tend to value more what they have to pay for 3) presented as experts – they have specialist expertise and experience which is not present in the organisation. This is often combined with an extensive
knowledge of either specific or different industries which clients find very attractive 4) generally highly motivated and committed people who display high levels of energy towards their work and their clients. While many are paid lots of money for doing this, their motivation and commitment is often to their work and clients first and their pay cheque second 5) not always conversant with their client's business. Thus the client may have to pay for the consultant to learn about the business in the initial stages of a project. This can be expensive 6) a flexible resource. The organisation is not burdened with long term costs – when the work is finished the consultant leaves (although in some organisations this never seems to happen!) 7) able to learn from their clients and use this learning with other clients 8) not emotionally involved with their client's problems – they have no history of investment in the situation and can therefore be more objective and critical in reviewing situations 9) independent – this is, of course, debatable 10) often investing in new approaches and methodologies – they have something new to offer clients 11) not always required to live with the consequences of their work 12) not always being entirely honest when they say "we've done this!". What they often mean is that "we haven't, but we have really great people and expertise and we are really confident that we will find a solution" 13) capable of developing a sense of dependency from their clients – "we cannot function without you now"
14) in a business themselves – they are selling people and time and are interested in consultant utilization and profit maximisation."69
Thomas and Elbeik's first point could be objected to on the grounds that some consultants expend considerable energy ensuring that in the course of the first assignment they build a solid and irrefutable case for their subsequent employment on a related contract. In certain cases the client may lose control over the definition of the problem so that this function passes to the consultant.
Point 2 amounts to a curious commentary on the fact that when evaluating advice from senior internal people the real cost of employing them is often overlooked. It also points to one of the challenges for the internal consultant – namely having the presence, skill and knowledge to gain the attention of senior people in the organisation without having the psychological advantage of providing an above the line, invoiced service.
Point 3 goes to the heart of the knowledge management issue for organisations. How many organisations have such comprehensive knowledge management arrangements in place that they know that the expertise and experience is not present in house? If they did have such systems in place the opportunity to avoid paying for the external consultant to learn about the business would present itself.
A number of internal consultants I have worked with have highlighted the sense of quiet resignation they feel about the common assumption, made by managers, that an internal consultant could not possibly be as good, as capable, as resourceful, as
knowledgeable or as skilled as an external consultant. (It is difficult being a prophet in your own household!)
Point 5 should be one of the internal consultants main strengths. Provided they can combine critical objectivity and skill with their knowledge of the business they should be able to drive home their advantage on this point with little difficulty. The problem arises where the client is not persuaded that they have the necessary skill, can maintain the critical objectivity and that they know enough about the business. If these doubts are combined with client worries about the "face validity" ("what will it look like to my colleagues if we use the internals?") of using internal consultants, a vague sense that the internal consultant is too close to the problem to have the critical, detached perspective required and a traditional view that "pukka consultancy" is bought in – then the internal has real problems.
In my experience, organisations often find the disengagement of external consultants difficult. Point 6 should be applying but somehow the external consultant seems to have more permanence than a fair proportion of the employed staff. Naturally, external consultants develop a range of more or less sophisticated techniques designed to create long-term dependent relationships with the client. The client needs to be clear thinking, direct and firm with external consultants who have outstayed their welcome.
Point 7 is both a reason for using consultants and a reason to be very cautious about using consultants. Clients are buying this knowledge and experience sourced from, quite possibly, their competitors and they need to be aware that any sophisticated consultancy will have carefully considered how best to store, analyses and use the extremely valuable experience and information that each client will provide.
Point 8 helps in understanding some of the challenges facing the internal consultant. Internal consultants need to be able to bring this level of detachment to the problem in order to achieve the objective and critically informed perspective that, perhaps, may be more easily achieved by the external consultant. The internal consultant may have a more complex, sophisticated and subtle appreciation of what is happening internally. But this level of detailed understanding may make it difficult to "see the wood for the trees". If the internal is able to operate at the tactical and strategic level, whilst making use of their more detailed understanding of the subtleties and nuances of the politics of the organisation then they have something very valuable to offer indeed.
Point 9 is most debatable when the consultancy and the client have a long-standing association or where the manager who places the contract is an alumnus of the consultancy engaged. Certain consultancy firms actively encourage consultants to move either up the organisation or out to the higher reaches of client firms where they can exercise influence over the purchase of consultancy services. Nevertheless, independence (of mind, perspective and of approach) is one of the most difficult claims of the external consultant for the internal to counter. When the cry is: "What we need here is an independent perspective, a fresh pair of eyes!" the internal consultant needs to be excellent to be towards the top of the list.
Point 10 may well be true but the purchaser needs to be clear that the consultancy is not simply recycling ideas from the last client, promoting the latest fashionable management fad or promoting a methodology that has never been fully and successfully implemented anywhere, but does look good in a report.
Point 11 may be the source of considerable difficulty for the client and should always be carefully thought about. Peter Fraser, Group Human Resources Consultant, Zurich Australian Insurance Group describes this as the external consultant's 'tourist feature'. "The external consultant", he says, "is more like a tourist – someone who can spoil the environment and leave it for someone else to clean up".
Point 13 refers to the fact that it is an unusual external consultant that invests in developing the client's independence. This is an area where the internal consultant need not feel under pressure to maintain dependence. Indeed, as I have noted already, Neal and Lloyd say that the internal consultant has a key role in enhancing internal capabilities and not, to such an extreme as the external, in breeding and cultivating the culture of dependence.
Thomas and Elbeik are only concerned with internal consultancy. They see the work of the consultant beginning when a part of an organisation's structure, processes or systems are failing to deliver the necessary levels of performance. Consultants are employed to improve the performance gap; their involvement can be short or long term; they assist the client without taking over the control of the problem and they provide advice in ways which enhance the client's ability to solve their future problems and challenges. The consultant leaves behind an improved capability. A Thomas and Elbeik consultant would exercise influence to get things done differently in such a way that the client becomes fully committed to the solution. Like Block, Thomas and Elbeik see consultancy as based on a combination of expertise and influencing skills but not based on overt authority or control.
This approach to internal consultancy highlights, in particular, one difference between the external and the internal consultant that is worth exploring in some detail.
External consultants may find it difficult to single-mindedly commit to improving the client's independent capability.
The independent or external consultant constantly faces the dilemma about the extent to which he / she enables the client to become more independent or maintains the client's dependence on him / her. This is a dilemma that is shared, to some extent, with those in the helping professions. Alfred Benjamin, writing in "The Helping Interview"70, comments on client dependence thus:
"The interviewee may have learned to regard himself as someone who requires the advice of others, who is incompetent to choose, who must always be dependent on a "specialist"."
For the counsellor this raises ethical issues as Benjamin writes: "Am I really helping by tendering the advice he seeks? May I not be reinforcing his negative concept of himself? Will he be able to build on my advice, or will advice seeking lead to more advice seeking, dependence to more dependence?"
One might speculate that, for some consultants, the growing dependence that Benjamin sees as a danger in counselling may be a something to be cultivated.
How this dependency can be stimulated is worth considering. External consultants may encourage dependency by developing unnecessarily complex solutions to the problem.
They may make use of carefully selected language designed to obfuscate rather than illuminate. They may deliberately build into their solutions the need for further consultancy and imply that only they can provide this assistance. They are, unfortunately for the client, well placed in the course of their diagnosis and investigation, to make the required assessment of the capability of the staff they meet and to pitch their solution just beyond the grasp of the staff. Consultants who emphasise their educative approach may, quite genuinely, see this behaviour as, ultimately, contributing to the growth in the organisation's capability. Just incidentally it generates good quality continuing business.
The internal consultant may be tempted to breed dependence in similar ways albeit for different reasons. The internal consultant may feel under pressure to justify their role. They may suffer insecurity about repeat business. They may operate in a culture that exhibits the tendency to believe that if it is supplied internally it can't be as good as an externally supplied service. They may not have developed their internal marketing skills and strategies to match their functional expertise and, as a result may feel more comfortable delivering and less so when scouting for business. They may have an astute understanding that completely new business is invariably more expensive to deliver than repeat or follow on business.
The internal consultant operating as a business unit within a host organisation and subject to cost and profit centre pressures is best regarded, in this respect, as an external consultant and subject to the full range of pressures to limit the client's independence.
Thomas and Elbeik consider that internal consultants are:
1) "likely to understand the overall business better than external consultants 2) sometimes more knowledgeable than external consultants. They should know their business and industry extremely well. They may also have developed an approach or a methodology which is ahead of any external group 3) normally part of a specific function (information technology, training and development, finance, business development) 4) aware of the right language and culture of the organisation. They know how things work and how to get things done 5) able to identify with the organisation and its ambitions – as employees they have a big emotional commitment 6) liable to be taken for granted or lacking the credibility of some external consultants 7) prone to being too emotionally involved in an organisation – thus perhaps influencing their ability to be truly objective 8) required to live with the consequences of their advice – they are still around long after the external consultants have left 9) able to spread their knowledge and experience around the organisation – they can enhance your organisation's overall capability 10) required to redefine past organisational relationships – the move from "colleague" to "client" requires a period of adjustment"
Point 1 may well be true. As part of the system they can be expected to have a solid knowledge of the language, culture, background and organisational policies, politics and norms but there may also be a dark side to this better understanding. The internal
consultant may be so immersed in their understanding of the business that they find it really tough taking a detached (even semi-detached) perspective.
Point 2 can be very powerful but also the source of trouble for the internal consultant. With all this knowledge and expertise to bring to the consultancy there is the everpresent danger of being typecast as an expert consultant and never being able to escape these expectations. One of the most experienced of the consultants I interviewed emphasised that, to be truly effective, the internal consultant needs to be able to manage process interactions as effectively as the expert intervention. He said: "You can't say: "Oh! I am terribly sorry, I can't do process because I am an expert." Or vice versa. People want solutions, someone to help them with their thinking and, therefore, they need the consultant to be able to do both."71
Point 3 can be the source of the internal consultant's expertise and the resources of the support department can be invaluable. Problems may sometimes arise where the internal consultant needs to draw on expertise from a range of sources – including those outside her/his section.
Point 4 also has a sting in the tail. As Peter Block points out, "line managers can see [the internal consultant] as being captured by the same forces and madness that impinge on them. Thus they may be a little slower to trust you and recognise that you have something special to offer them."72
Point 5 has all manner of downsides including the notion of being captured by corporate "forces and madness" as Block writes, having too great an emotional commitment to be dispassionately analytical (when that is required), being unable to
access key people at the right time because you don't have the clout of the external consultant, being up against a conflict of interest between the needs and aspirations of the consultant's section and the client section, being seen (by top management) as an emissary evangelist for a particular corporate solution which needs to be pressed into action at every opportunity – whatever the real needs. Peter Block sees this as being "asked to sell your own department's approach, and the pressure to do this can be immense."73
Point 6 raises the issue of the ways in which the internal consultant builds credibility. Raphe Berenbaum, contributing Chapter 4 in "Developing Organisational Consultancy"74, says that the internal consultant's credibility is built in the same way as the external consultant's. "Credibility," he says, "comes from favourable references from credible sources." Whilst this is true, the downside can be catastrophic. Peter Block puts it this way:
"Having one manager angry at you can be a disaster. The potential number of clients is limited to the number of managers in one organisation. If you blow one or two jobs, word can get around fast and the demand for your services can disappear quickly. If this happens you are out of a job, even if they keep you on the payroll."75
Point 8 may lead to reluctance to give "honest feedback"76, "very cautious behaviour"77 and, as Peter Block says, "the internal consultant [coming] to be used only as a pair of hands." However, the internal consultant who is still employed when the results of their intervention crystallise can be involved in implementation monitoring and advising on the desirable adjustments to their recommendations. Internal consultants cannot walk away in exactly the same way as the external consultant may do.
Point 9 also contains the seeds of destruction within it. Senior management may come to see an internal consultancy team as acting as missionaries to the furthest flung (ideologically or geographically) parts of the organisation, spreading the word about good practice, whipping in the recalcitrant and promoting the corporate ethos. The weight of these corporate expectations may prove too much for an internal consultancy to bear. Conversely, the sometimes-incidental enrichment of an organisation's knowledge base brought about by internal consultants who are skilled at transferring learning from one department to another is an extremely valuable source of organisational and individual learning.
Point 10 is complicated in situations where the internal consultant is "required to convert an adversary. A certain line manager may have rejected your department's services for years, but it is up to you to bring him into the fold."78
In this appendix I will examine my methodological approach to planning and carrying out the research reported in this dissertation. I will seek to critically examine my assumptions and try to identify the influences that shaped my thinking and practice.
Why did I want to carry out the research in the first place? My reasons were, I believe, two-fold: • I wanted to discover the extent, to which the services provided to internal clients by "staffers", as Peter Block would call them, in my organisation, made use of the internal consultancy skills that I have examined in this dissertation. At the outset, I thought that this might illuminate my understanding of internal consultancy in a number of ways. First, I thought of the research as a way of comparing current practice in one organisation with the body of knowledge about consultancy that I had been exploring. Second, I imagined that I would discover – in the "gaps" between the writings of others and the current practice in my organisation – a rich vein of tension and opportunity. Here, perhaps, might be the indicators of development needs, here I might uncover practitioner insights which would challenge established thinking, here I might come across views and experiences that would add depth, richness and texture to my understanding of the internal consultancy process. Finally, I hoped that I would find my own expectations and practice being challenged by the reported experiences and evident skills of those I interviewed. • I was also interested in the possibility of making a research-based contribution to the debate within my organisation about the nature of the similarities and
differences between external consultancy and internal consultancy. The focus for this debate had been the creation of the behavioural competencies map for my organisation. Was it reasonable to propose that the firm had one common behavioural framework for all staff (external client facing consultancy staff and internal corporate staff) that included a set of common consultancy behaviours? What method would I use? My approach to this was essentially discursive and accumulative – gradually focusing down on a method and process that I thought appropriate. My thinking was influenced in several ways: • First, the Roffey Park research team helped me to decide that what I was about was essentially pure research. I wanted to "add or contribute to the general body of knowledge in this particular field". There were aspects of action research here also in that I wanted to bring about some change but I was not proposing to actively seek to change current practice in the firm during the course of the research phase. I did hope, however, that my research results and discussion of the final dissertation would lead to the development of internal consultancy training (there was no formal training for internal staff at the time I commenced my research), better support for staff involved in providing internal consultancy services and more understanding of the importance of internal consultancy and the skills upon which it is based in the firm. • Secondly, I engaged with the question about whether my research would primarily be qualitative or quantitative. Initially, I had considered a quantitative approach and I got so far as developing materials for a structured interview based survey (see Appendix 2). In the course of debate within the learning set I came to understand that this form of enquiry was framed in such a way as to exclude me accessing the rich results that could
be generated by a more qualitative approach. By seeking largely to control my interviewees responses to frames (through the use of the 'cards' offering a restricted range of options) which I was imposing on them, I was, indeed, likely to produce results which would have been of dubious validity. I also realised that, in adopting the market researchers approach, I had intended to collect data that I could then analyse numerically to test a hypothesis. In fact, what I wanted to do was to understand, describe and reveal the social and behavioural phenomena and not test a single hypothesis. • Third, I came to realise, through discussions in the learning set and the development of my colleague's thinking, that what I wanted to do in the course of the interviews was to understand more about the different, multiple realities of providing internal consultancy services; engage with those I interviewed (rather than remain detached); understand the meanings and emphases that they used rather than impose outsiders' meanings or my own; examine the whole context of internal consultancy and become alert to complex and subtle issues and patterns of meaning. I did not want to constrain the responses of those I interviewed rather to gain as full an access to the knowledge and meanings of each person. I wanted to gather case study material of some depth rather than worry about generalisability. I wanted to hear and understand about the informant's context. I wanted to understand more about how people know about these issues as much as about what they know about consultancy. What skills and competencies have they developed and demonstrated and what part has intuition and informal knowledge played in developing this skill? With these matters clarified I developed a much more open ended approach to my interviews based around the following key questions: • What do you do for your internal clients?
• • • • • • • •
Could you tell me about one project or incident? Follow this line of enquiry in detail. How do you go about gaining access to the key people in the sections you work with? What would you see as the purpose of this service? Is your role changing in this area? Why? What do you find rewarding about this part of your job? What do you find challenging? Can you tell me about your most successful incident / project or assignment in relation to this kind of work? What made it so successful?
Appendix 2 Introduction
Thank the participant for their time and explain that, as part of a programme of research, I am currently investigating the role of the "internal consultant" in organisations.
I am particularly interested in the extent to which client liaison roles in Bacon & Woodrow's HR Training team and account management roles in the Firm's Marketing team are developing and your experience of these developments.
I have arranged to interview most people in the HR Training team who have experience of the client liaison role and will also arrange to meet with all the account management staff in the Marketing team.
The information you provide will form part of my dissertation but the information you give me and the comments you provide will be non attributable.
Check that this level of confidentiality is understood and accepted.
Question 1: Which four of the statements on Card 1 best express what you offer to the sections you provide client liaison services to?
Question 2: How do you go about gaining access to the key people in the sections you work with? [Record answers].
Question 3: What do you find rewarding about this part of your job? [Record answers].
Question 4: What do you find challenging about this part of your job? [Record answers].
Question 5: I have introduced the idea of internal consultancy. Here are a number of definitions of internal consultancy. (Show Card 2.) Which definition comes closest to describing the work you do in your liaison with sections of the Firm?
Supplementary: Please explain why? Could this chosen explanation of internal consultancy be improved? If so, how? [Record answers].
Question 6: Consider the list of skills on Card 3. Which of these skills do you think (minimum of five and maximum of eight) are likely to be of most importance to an Adviser in the Bacon & Woodrow HR team, with a training background, operating as an internal consultant?
Why have you selected these? [Record answers].
Question 7: People who act as consultants within organisations may take on a range of roles. On Card 4 you will see many of these roles listed, together with a brief explanation of each role.
Please tell me which of these roles you have performed in Bacon & Woodrow.
Which of these roles have you performed most often?
Could you give me some examples of what you did when you performed this most frequent role?
Thank the person being interviewed.
1. I know the HR Training systems and can show them how to use them 2. I know how to ensure that the section's investment in training supports the section's objectives 3. I know the key people in the section and in the HR team and how to influence them 4. I have an established network of contacts which sections know they can access through you 5. I have a lot of information about ways in which training and development can solve my section's problems 6. I find I can work unobtrusively at times 7. I am well placed to seize opportunities to develop solutions to the section's problems 8. I make it my business to keep in close touch with the long term consequences of my section's investment in training and development 9. I am a channel of communication to/from the client sections and the HR Personnel and Training teams 10. I interpret Bacon & Woodrow's training policies and help "my" sections to apply them 11. I detect training and development needs which are not being addressed and ensure that the HR Training team have the opportunity to respond to these
Card 2 A Internal consultancy is what is provided when people who have professional expertise, such as trainers, but limited direct authority over the use of their expertise, intervene to recommend changes to organisational structures, policies, procedures or systems. B Internal consultancy, for trainers, is primarily an educational process that aims to increase the stock of knowledge in an organisation or to increase the effectiveness of knowledge management. C Internal consultancy, provided by trainers, is about helping clients (in an objective manner) to identify people and organisational development problems, analyse them, recommend solutions and help with implementation, when requested. D Internal consultancy is about giving independent advice and assistance to clients. This typically involves identifying and investigating problems and / or opportunities, recommending appropriate action and helping managers to implement those recommendations. E Internal consultancy is an independent professional advisory service assisting managers and organisations in achieving organisational purposes and objectives by solving human resource development problems, identifying new opportunities, enhancing learning and implementing changes.
Card 3 1. The ability to supply fresh and independent analysis of HR development issues. 2. The ability to provide top quality advice, in the right manner and at the right time. 3. The facility to empower teams to develop their own solutions. 4. The knowledge and the confidence to think outside the immediate, or the personal functional "box", and help clients develop solutions that display a strategic business perspective. 5. The confidence to cope with considerable personal and organisational ambiguity and still retain credibility. 6. The competence (and willingness) to challenge and confront senior colleagues without appearing rude, arrogant or patronizing. 7. Marketing skills. 8. The ability to manage a number of client assignments at the same time. 9. The ability to listen (really listen) to the client, communicate understanding and suggest to the client that they are the central focus of your work now. 10. The capacity to negotiate and agree terms of reference in a constrained, internal market. 11. Desk and field research skills. 12. Interview, questionnaire design and analysis, process mapping and organisational analysis skills. 13. Challenging and probing skills. 14. Project management skills. 15. Report writing and presentation skills. 16. Having a strong base of self esteem 17. Refusing to be rushed through the contracting stage
18. Expressing my wants for the project as well as finding out what the client wants - negotiating wants and offers 19. Paying attention to any feelings of unease experienced in early meetings 20. Being willing to ask direct questions 21. Giving and receiving feedback on the progress of the relationship. 22. Self-insight and a sense of one's own identity 23. Cross-cultural sensitivity – the ability to decipher other people's values 24. Cultural/moral humility – the ability to see one's own value system as not necessarily better or worse than another's values 25. A proactive problem solving orientation – the conviction that interpersonal and cross-cultural problems can be solved 26. Personal flexibility – the ability to adopt different responses and approaches as needed 27. Negotiation skills – the ability to explore differences creatively, to locate some common ground and to solve the problem 28. Interpersonal and cross-cultural tact – the ability to solve problems with people without insulting them, demeaning them, or destroying "their face" 29. Repair strategies and skills – the ability to resurrect, to revitalize and to rebuild damaged or broken face-to-face relationships 30. Patience 31. Extremely well developed systems thinking and awareness of organisational dynamics 32. Deep awareness of [personal] biases and values in the consulting processes 33. The ability to think conceptually, extracting simple patterns from the internal complexities of organisations
34. Courage to challenge internal direction and decisions while still sustaining effective working relationships 35. The ability to enhance internal capabilities over a prolonged period of time
Reflector Raises questions for reflection
Process specialist Observes problem solving processes and raises issues mirroring feedback
Fact finder Gathers data and stimulates thinking
Alternative identifier Identifies alternatives and resources for client and helps assess consequences
Collaborator in problem solving Offers alternatives and participates in decisions
Trainer/educator Trains the client and designs learning experiences
Technical expert Provides information and suggestions for policy or practice decisions
Advocate Proposes guidelines, persuades, or directs in the problem solving process
Mark Thomas and Sam Elbeik, "Supercharge Your Management Role", 1996, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1996, page 3 2 Thomas and Elbeik, 1996, page 4 3 Thomas and Elbeik, 1996, page 5 4 List adapted from Keri Phillips and Patricia Shaw, "A Consultancy Approach for Trainers", 1989, Gower, Aldershot 5 Quoted in an article by Simon Caulkin in "Management Today", March 1997, page 33. Institute of Management, London 6 Peter Block, "Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used", 1981, Pfeiffer & Company, San Francisco 7 Joseph Prokopenko, Hari Johri and Chris Cooper, "Internal Management Consulting: Building In House Competencies for Sustainable Improvements", Entreprise (sic) and Management Development Working Paper – EMD/20/E, published on the internet by the International Labour Organisation 8 Prokopenko, Johri and Cooper, op cit 9 Thomas and Elbeik, 1996, page 4 10 Peter Block, "Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used", 1981, Pfeiffer & Company, San Francisco, page 82 11 Larry Greiner and Robert Metzger, "Consulting to Management", 1983, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 12 Joseph Prokopenko, Hari Johri and Chris Cooper, "Internal Management Consulting: Building In House Competencies for Sustainable Improvements", Entreprise (sic) and Management Development Working Paper – EMD/20/E, published on the internet by the International Labour Organisation 13 Prokopenko, Johri and Cooper, op cit. 14 Clifford D Sharp, "Professionalism, Vision and Values", pamphlet published by the Staple Inn Actuarial Society, June 1999, London 15 Christian Paul Lynch, IMC Questionnaire and responses, 1992, quoted in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London, Chapter2, page 42 16 Code of Professional Conduct, Institute of Management Consultant's brochure, London 17 Code of Professional Conduct, Institute of Management Consultant's brochure, London 18 Code of Professional Conduct, Institute of Management Consultant's brochure, London 19 Chris Blackhurst, "Blackhurst's Diary", in "Management Today", July 2000, page 16, Institute of Management, London 20 According to Simon Caulkin, article in "Management Today", March 1997, page 34, Institute of Management, London 21 Quoted by Simon Caulkin writing in "Management Today", March 1997. 22 The NHS spent £200 million on consultancy in 1996 alone. 23 Quoted by Simon Caulkin writing in "Management Today", op cit. 24 Larry Greiner and Robert Metzger, "Consulting to Management", 1983, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 25 Chapter 7 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 26 'A Survey of Management Consultancy' in "The Economist", February 13, 1988, London 27 William A Khan, "To Be Fully There: Psychological Presence at Work", 'Human Relations', 45 (1992) 28 Edwin C Nevis, "A Gestalt Approach to Organisational Consulting", 1987, Gardner Press, New York, page 53 29 Edwin C Nevis, "A Gestalt Approach to Organisational Consulting", 1987, Gardner Press, New York, page 54 30 Gerard Egan, "The Skilled Helper", 1975, Brooks/Cole Publishing Co., Monterey, USA 31 Milan Kubr (Editor), "Management Consulting: A Guide To The Profession", 3rd edition, 1996, International Labour Office, Geneva, page 13 32 Bob Garratt, "From Expertise to Contingency: Changes in the Nature of Consulting", Management Education and Development (Workshop), Vol 12., part 2, pages 95-101. 33 Kurt Lewin, "Field Theory in Social Science", 1952, Tavistock Press, London 34 David Maister, "Managing the professional service firm", 1993, The Free Press, New York, page 113 35 Charles J Margerison, "Managerial Consulting Skills: a practical guide", 1988, Gower, Aldershot, page 106 36 Charles J Margerison, "Managerial Consulting Skills: a practical guide", 1988, Gower, Aldershot, page 106 37 Charles J Margerison, "Managerial Consulting Skills: a practical guide", 1988, Gower, Aldershot, page 106 38 Edgar H Schein, "Process Consultation", Vol. II, "Lessons for managers and consultants", 1987, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, page 34 39 Milan Kubr (Editor), "Management Consulting: A Guide To The Profession", 3rd edition, 1996, International Labour Office, Geneva, page 58 40 Milan Kubr (Editor), "Management Consulting: A Guide To The Profession", 3rd edition, 1996, International Labour Office, Geneva, page 58 41 Edgar H Schein, "Process Consultation", Vol. II, "Lessons for managers and consultants", 1987, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, page 34 42 Mark Thomas and Sam Elbeik, "Supercharge Your Management Role", 1996, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, page 13 43 Adapted from G Lippitt and R Lippitt: "The Consulting Process In Action", 1979, University Associates, La Jolla, California, page 31 44 Mark Thomas and Sam Elbeik, "Supercharge Your Management Role", 1996, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford 45 Mark Thomas and Sam Elbeik, "Supercharge Your Management Role", 1996, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, page 17
Bob Garratt, "From Expertise to Contingency: Changes in the Nature of Consulting", Management Education and Development (Workshop), Vol 12., part 2, pages 95-101 47 Sally Garratt, "How to be a Consultant", 1991, Gower, Aldershot, Hants. 48 Calvert Markham, "The Top Consultant", 3rd Edition, 1998, Kogan Page, London 49 Calvert Markham, "The Top Consultant", 3rd Edition, 1998, Kogan Page, London, page 127 50 R G Harrison, "Management Services practitioners as internal consultants – two alternative role models", article in "Management Services", December 1981, pages 16 - 18 51 R G Harrison, "Management Services practitioners as internal consultants – two alternative role models", article in "Management Services", December 1981, pages 16 - 18 52 R G Harrison, "Management Services practitioners as internal consultants – two alternative role models", article in "Management Services", December 1981, pages 16 - 18 53 Keri Phillips and Patricia Shaw, "A Consultancy Approach for Trainers", 1989, Gower, Aldershot 54 Keri Phillips and Patricia Shaw, "A Consultancy Approach for Trainers", 1989, Gower, Aldershot, page 32 55 R G Harrison, "Management Services practitioners as internal consultants – two alternative role models", article in "Management Services", December 1981, pages 16 - 18 56 Mark Thomas and Sam Elbeik, "Supercharge Your Management Role", 1996, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford – skills derived or extrapolated from a close reading of much of their text, rather than direct quotation. 57 Quoted by Milan Kubr (Editor), in Appendix 9, page 798, "Management Consulting: A Guide To The Profession", 3rd edition, 1996, International Labour Office, Geneva 58 Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd, "The role of the internal consultant", Chapter 22, page 436 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 59 Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd, "The role of the internal consultant", Chapter 22, page 436 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 60 Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd, "The role of the internal consultant", Chapter 22, page 436 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 61 Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd, "The role of the internal consultant", Chapter 22, page 436 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 62 Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd, "The role of the internal consultant", Chapter 22, page 436 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 63 Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd, "The role of the internal consultant", Chapter 22, page 436 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 64 Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd, "The role of the internal consultant", Chapter 22, page 438 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 65 Margaret Neal and Christine Lloyd, "The role of the internal consultant", Chapter 22, page 443 in "Management Consultancy: a handbook for best practice", Editor: Philip Sadler, 1998, Kogan Page, London 66 R G Harrison, "Management Services practitioners as internal consultants – two alternative role models", article in "Management Services", December 1981, pages 16 - 18 67 Phillips and Shaw, "A Consultancy Approach for Trainers", 1989, Gower, Aldershot 68 MSc in Management Consultancy, "Module 2" papers, 1998, The Management Consultancy Business School, Coventry 69 Mark Thomas and Sam Elbeik, "Supercharge Your Management Role", 1996, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford 70 Alfred Benjamin, "The Helping Interview", 2nd Edition, 1974, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, page 131 71 Interview recorded in July,2000. 72 Peter Block, "Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used", 1981, Pfeiffer & Company, San Francisco, page 106 73 Peter Block, "Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used", 1981, Pfeiffer & Company, San Francisco, page 106 74 Raphe Berenbaum, "Internal Consultancy", Chapter 4, page 87, in "Developing Organisational Consultancy", Edited by Jean E Neuman, Kamil Kellner and Andrea Dawson-Shepherd, 1997, Routledege, London 75 Peter Block, "Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used", 1981, Pfeiffer & Company, San Francisco, page 106 76 Peter Block, "Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used", 1981, Pfeiffer & Company, San Francisco, page 106 77 Peter Block, "Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used", 1981, Pfeiffer & Company, San Francisco, page 106 78 Peter Block, "Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used", 1981, Pfeiffer & Company, San Francisco, page 106
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