As I read the text in regards to Block’s advice on preparing for your first meeting with the client, I had to pause on the part about the importance of using short statements. Reflecting back on my own experiences, I do find at times that it’s difficult for me to wait long enough for the client to be able to really tell me what’s on their mind. As a fixer I want to immediately launch into everything that I think I can do for them as well as anything additional that may help with their needs. So far I don’t think I’ve been to off-base, but I do wonder if I overwhelm? It also hit home a bit when I was reading some of the examples that he gave where the consultant was responding with an almost dissertation like statement. But then, further down you would see his corrected example, for instance “I would like for you to also attend the course on handling difficult conversations.”I have actually had these types of conversations before, but I cannot honestly say that my responses have ever been quite that short. In what I thought was my effort to help them understand, I may tend to over explain. I wonder if in fact I have ever lost any credibility by giving too much justification….So as I head into my initial meeting with the client next week, I will have to make sure that I have some very well thought out open ended questions as well as perhaps a pieceovertake for my mouth.
Monthly Archives: September 2012
As I continued my reading today of Schein’s text on process consultation, I discovered that my experience the other day was actually considered to be a form of active inquiry (?). Perhaps I was in effect building the client’s trust and gaining their confidence without knowing it in order to get the full story. Which, as Schein suggests in chapter 3, is a good way to get the true story from the client. As mentioned in the blog written yesterday, if I had truly taken what the client said in the beginning at face value I would have provided assistance in a very ineffective direction. Perhaps it could be labeled as “exploratory diagnostic inquiry” as mentioned on page 46? He essentially seems to say that we look for feelings and reactions and continue to question until the full story has been provided….As I read somewhere, at the moment where exactly escapes me, “sometimes, no matter our wisdom, we must humble ourselves to what we don’t know or haven’t yet discovered.”
If you ask anyone that works for a hospital why they choose their profession, they will more than likely respond by saying “I like to help people”. Although I am not there holding a heart in my hands or administering medications, I can say that what I do for the hospital is still because I like to help people. What I attempt to do is to help and empower those employees that can do those things for you. So I honestly smiled a little when I saw part of the title of Schein’s book for Adult 610 “Building the Helping Relationship”. That is what I do.
As I sat in my Director’s office the other day, I found myself thinking back to the Monday’s discussion of possible reactions of a client being helped. A beginning conversation that I had just had with an internal client for a project had started out with a very “rose colored glasses” kind of perception of her department. Every question was met with a “we really don’t have a problem with that” or “we all get along great”. So as the conversation continued I began to question why I was even pulled in at all. Then on one question there was “well…there is this one thing.”
During a second conversation a few days later, the Director had began to open up about issues within the department and (I think) the reason that I was asked to help in the first place. Why did it have to take two conversations before she felt like she could even begin to tell me what was truly going on? Did she not trust that what I could provide would meet her or their needs? At the conclusion of conversation number two, I couldn’t help but walk over to my Director for some advice on whether or not to continue to dig deeper or to just relent and stick with the topic suggested.
What did begin to make sense more than ever was Schien’s belief that there should be an emphasis on the process, “how things are done is as important or more important than what is done.” If I had gone in to do education on the proposed topic from the beginning, I would have been way off base. Based on the conversations that I had had up to this point, my recommendation was to go in a whole different direction. So why did she paint such a rosy picture as opposed to giving me the full story from the beginning?
I could only guess that it also aligns with Schein’s mention of the initial status imbalance in the helping relationship. I had been asked to come in and do some consulting and education for the staff based on some issues within the department. The manager in turn wasn’t straightforward at first because she may have felt like she was admitting a failure? Did she possibly withhold some of the information in the beginning because she didn’t want to draw attention to what she felt like she should have been able to “fix” or “control”, in essence admitting to what she believed was her own personal weakness as a manager?
I can’t wait to see what is uncovered during the actual discussion with the employees….