If you are a consultant working with a group, this 6-part series covers 18 best practices for facilitating learning and engagement during a consultation session. To find the whole list once the series is complete, search “process leadership skills” in my blog.
- Establish credibility: If you’ve done the exploratory work to find out where the group is prior to the actual consultation time, there’s a greater probability that they will engage once you’re together. However, there’s also a good chance that not everyone in the room has actually met you yet. They are likely asking (internally), “Do I trust you?” “Are you helpful?” and “Do you care?” You’ll need to address these three questions in order to establish credibility.
- Don’t minimize the challenges: People will not trust you if you do not take the challenges they are facing seriously. Change is difficult, and the longer the old system has been in place, the more difficult it is to change it. Consider this quote from Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince: “And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the reformer has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”
- Clarify the process ahead: Lay out before the group a rough outline of what they can expect the future process to look like. Doing this not only establishes rapport as you come alongside them throughout the process, but focus as they can see more clearly the necessary steps ahead.