Consulting industry is often competitive and made up of top performers with significant work experiences; however, winning new businesses require top-notch qualities that go beyond impressive resumes. One such quality is resourcefulness, especially when meeting new clients because oftentimes, consultants are asked to solve problems they are unfamiliar with or utterly new to the industry. Being resourceful when meeting new clients require adequate preparation which include extensive research not just on the client but also on the company or the business in question (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015). In particular, researching about a client is essential since it helps the consultant know his/her client on a personal level as well as the organization he/she represents. Similarly, proper preparation is vital as it helps the consultant to understand the nature of the problem of the client and the best solution to such problems because the best way to build trust with clients is producing error-free deliverables.
Considering the case study on Kenworth Motors, the organizational development consultant did not prepare well for the meeting with Denton. For instance, even after being given the name over the phone by Denton, the OD consultant did not bother researching on his new client to know the client's experience in the industry and the nature of his job. This is a simple task that can be carried out over the internet without necessarily meeting a client in person. Similarly, even after knowing how well the new client knew him, the OD consultant went for the meeting without figuring out the nature of the problem Denton had and how to solve the problem. Furthermore, the OD consultant completely ignored researching on the background of Kenworth Motors and its situation at the time to ensure that he understands how the company works and the situation that he would be dealing with.
A good OD consultant would have done everything differently from the onset. For example, after receiving a call from a newly referred client, I would do extensive research to know the client not just personally but his working experience in the industry or other industries he has worked in. By simply checking the client's LinkedIn profile I would be able to know the client's past jobs or any crossovers within the industry if he has operated in the industry for some time. In addition, as an OD consultant, I would conduct thorough research on Kenworth Motors' past and current situations to ensure that I understand the situation I'd be dealing with and to provide the client with a more accurate consultant who has adequate knowledge on how the company works. Moreover, I would have tried to be attentive to details over the phone to grasp any hint of what is affecting the client as well as the company before engaging myself in any serious research.
The Discussion Process
Sustaining trust from a client is crucial and a big determinant of success in consultancy, therefore, consultants must demonstrate unique behaviors when embarking on a fruitful consulting engagement. For instance, for a successful consulting engagement, the consultant must have good listening skills to convince the client of his/her confidence in fulfilling the task at hand. This can be achieved through prior extensive research on both the client and the organization so that any information given by the client is not entirely new. An experienced consultant should also be able to understand their value and to stick to their charges irrespective of the client's stance. In particular, it is very important for a consultant to know their niche to be able to turn down a counteroffer politely and with integrity (Anderson, 2016). A good consultant should also be able to offer creative solutions to his/her client not as a final answer but as a part of a more sophisticated and integrated approach.
In Kenworth Motors case study, the OD consultant was effective in gaining the client's empathy and trust by proving to be a good listener during their initial contact. During the phone call, the OD consultant portrayed effective listing skills as Denton kept narrating about how he was referred to the consultant and his experience in Seattle. This not only creates a trust but also helps build a good rapport and mutual understanding of both the consultant and the client during the working process. Similarly, because of the OD consultant's interpersonal skills, their discussion over the phone call progressed effectively, and Delton was ready to disclose the organization's private information. Moreover, during their discussion in Delton's office, the OD consultant was effective and honest about the importance and the cons of inviting an outside opinion on the organization's affairs.
Besides his good intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, the OD consultant was ineffective, especially in his initial inquiry. For example, soon after Dalton started answering some of the questions, the OD general quickly realized his ineffectiveness in the initial process of inquiry since the answers provided did not help in identifying the problem. Since effective consultancy in a large organization like Kenworth Motors requires creative solutions to the organization's problems, the OD general was ineffective as he fell short in providing Delton with some well-thought answers. The ability to think clearly beyond immediate tasks is what differentiates great consultants from good ones. Furthermore, the OD consultant was ineffective as he did not understand his niche and unable to quote the exact charges of the project confidently.
The Contracting Process
One of the main determinants of success in a consulting profession is the ability to negotiate contracts. According to Benn et al. (2014), the process of negotiating contracts is vital for the success of any business since the terms of the agreements often indicate the details of the organizations' high-value business transactions. Different organizations and OD consultants have always followed different contract guidelines; however, the essence of typical contract negotiation is finding common ground since a single miscalculation in the process can lead to a substantial financial loss. Ideally, the process of contract negotiation requires to give or take attitude from both the parties, which implies that the process is susceptible to changes. Therefore, once both the parties reach an agreement, the contract becomes legally binding and enforceable by law.
The contract between Delton and OD consultant in Kenworth Motors case study was effective as highlighted in the last part of the case. Both Delton and the OD consultant with little resistance and in a short time found common ground and finalized their contract. The agreement reached by the two parties covered everything discussed initially including the ultimate purpose of the contract, the idea of a weekend retreat, the agreed schedule outline and the venue. In addition, the two parties discussed and agreed on the cost of OD consultation services, the cost of the entire retreat process and the theme of their meeting; a communications workshop. This kind of contract agreement is effective as it encompasses all the requirement of a successful contract and an agreement between internal and external parties.
Considering the scope and clarity of the contracting process in Kenworth Motor's case study, the contract agreement and planning was insufficient and unclear. For instance, the OD consultant was extremely vague when explaining his role and responsibility as a consultant in the retreat that was planned. Similarly, the OD consultant failed to mention his plan of action in achieving the desired goals of the scheduled retreat. Apart from the expenses and the participants, Delton had no clue on what was to be done at the weekend retreat. Moreover, the OD general completely ignored the importance of a comprehensive research action plan for the proposed retreat leaving everyone guessing the method used.
Designing the Retreat
Just like Kenworth Motors, today's businesses and organizations have growing emphasis on their employees especially the top management. For this reason, the meaning of retreat is changing, and businesses are striving to make their employees more motivated by giving them desirable retreats. To plan for such a retreat as a company consultant, one must consider factors like space. Designing a perfect retreat involves excellent locations and those locations must be offsite away from the organization's premises (Harvey & Drolet, 2004). Similarly, an OD consultant, keeping all the participants involved needs an effective agenda. A proper agenda needs extensive research on the participants to ensure that the topics are all relevant to the participants. For example, in Kenworth Motors, conducting inquiries about the managers is crucial not only to know them personally but also to understand their view on the company, thereby, choosing the right topics. In addition to the inquiry, as the OD consultant, I would invite both Delton and the managers for a light dinner to brief them on the retreat and its agendas, to allow the managers to know their new plant manager and the external consultant.
During the retreat, I would plan for a clear schedule with frequent breaks. Breaks are important in meetings and by adding a break schedule to the retreat's agendas prevents unintended disruptions. This can be done for example, by scheduling 10-15 minutes break after every one hour. This is very crucial because breaks reduce distractions but improve the level of participation in a meeting. Also, the participants must know the start of the next meeting to avoid delays and further disruptions.
While in session, a two-way idea exchange is deemed fruitful as compared to a presentation. As OD consultant, rather than standing on the board and presenting to the managers on how and what should be done, I would facilitate information exchange with the Delton and the managers to ensure all parties highlights their problem and possible recommendations. This is also important as conversations contribute to increased participation and understanding of the subject matter of the discussion (Anderson & Anderson, 2010). Additionally, as the OD consultant, I would include a plan for a follow-up in my agenda to ensure accountability on ideas and solutions initiated during the retreat. This can also be reinforced by ensuring every participant is assigned an action task by the end of each day.
Anderson, D. L. (2016). Organization development: The process of leading organizational change. Sage Publications.
Anderson, L. A., & Anderson, D. (2010). The change leader's roadmap: How to navigate your organization's transformation(Vol. 384). John Wiley & Sons.
Benn, S., Edwards, M., & Williams, T. (2014). Organizational change for corporate sustainability. Routledge.
Cheung-Judge, M. Y., & Holbeche, L. (2015). Organization development: a practitioner's guide for OD and HR. Kogan Page Publishers.
Harvey, T. R., & Drolet, B. (2004). Building teams, building people: Expanding the fifth resource. R&L Education.
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