EAP Management Consulting Knowledgebase
A living archive of resources for the development and advancement of
management consulting skills for Employee Assistance Professionals
 

Essential Skills for Effective Consultation

Effective consultants employ these skills as best practices

Table of Contents

  1. Possesses business acumen
  2. Knows how organizations function
  3. Draws upon own business or management experience
  4. Builds rapport
  5. Builds trust
  6. Models effective communication
  7. Utilizes facilitation skills
  8. Possesses professional self-esteem
  9. Harnesses clinical intuition
  10. Sets expectations
  11. Sets boundaries
  12. Takes a history of the problem
  13. Provides follow-up
  14. Seeks, and gives, feedback
  15. Initiates outreach and proactivity
  16. Consumes research

Possesses business acumen

  • Realize that any action or solution you produce for the manager will cost the company… in money or time
  • Interview senior management
    • Know how to speak with corporate directors
    • Know the leaders' visions and the manager's execution goals
  • Reframe problems into business issues
  • Learn to think like a businessperson
  • Be willing to be recalibrated by manager to business knowledge

Knows how organizations function

  • Organizations are social constructs
  • Develop knowledge of micro-cultures
  • Understand how systems work; apply systems theory
  • Ontological design
    • Ontological Design recognizes the significance of conceptualizations at all levels of the system, from "design" and implementation through to its end use.
      • How apparent or obvious is the organization's structure?
      • How does the organization respond to failure or unexpected events?
      • Does the culture or focus of the organization create blind spots?
  • Understand how business processes work for this organization
  • Elements of organizational awareness
    • power; authority; organization's politics are real
    • legacy & history of the organization
    • management's values… what is considered costly?
    • constructed reality
  • EAP and EAPC must fit within the organization's model
    • Know your value to the organization
  • Develop political savvy and power within the organization, and be willing to use them

Draws upon own business or management experience

Builds Rapport

  • Deemed the number one condition for future referrals and consultation requests
    • Effective EAPCs "bridge" current feedback and coaching to previous consultations
    • Also sustains the consulting relationship through "rough patches" or dead-end problems
  • Match the style of thinking of the manager
  • Demonstrates humility and humanness
  • Brings self into the work (without compromising boundaries or dual-relationships)
    • Sense of humor can reduce tension, engage manager
  • Treat the manager with highest respect
    • S/he is an expert in his/her area
  • Have compassion for the manager's problem and situation

Builds trust

  • Higher levels of trust are believed to prompt manager requests for consultation earlier in the life of a problem
  • Go the extra mile
  • Stick with the manager; partnership
  • Maintain privacy of business information
    • Especially important for external EAPs with multiple customers

Models effective communication

  • Manage tone of voice to convey confidence and calmness
  • Good listener—listen with "the third ear" for the problem behind the request
    • Manager's vocabulary will reveal his/her attitude about the employee problem

Utilizes facilitation skills

  • Move people in their ability to expand thoughts, feelings

Possesses professional self-esteem

  • Challenges myths, denial, powerlessness, obsolete management methods
  • Directive with guidance
  • Confidence without cockiness
  • Needs confidence & strength to sell what you're saying; managers can be rough on the EAPC

Harnesses clinical intuition

  • EAPC tailors the education, interventions and solutions to the style of the manager
    • Don't suggest things that manager cannot do
  • Determines manager's readiness-for-change

Sets expectations

  • Establishes roles of EAP, EAPC, the manager and the employee
  • Clarifies that EAP is not to be used as discipline or punishment
    • Further, that employee non-participation in EAP is not grounds for discipline
  • EAPC contracts with manager
    • Sets clear expectations
    • Outlines roles of each party
    • Seek acknowledgement that manager owns the problem, and the development and delivery of solutions

Sets boundaries

  • Ability to move in, then move out, thus reducing dependency
  • Avoids slipping into personal realm (for EAPC or manager)

Takes a history of the problem

  • The history of attempted solutions also reveals manager's strengths and tolerance for employee management

Provides follow-up

  • Reaches out to manager to determine progress, barriers, motivation
  • Follow-up also…
    • helps build rapport
    • demonstrates concern
    • models follow-through
    • enhances manager's integration of skills

Seeks, and gives, feedback

  • "Did we get that question answered?"
  • Uses a Manager Satisfaction Survey
  • Utilizes outcome measures
  • Coaches manager about the importance of feedback
    • What does effective feedback sound like?
    • How can you frame your feedback so that it is usable by the audience?
    • How does timing affect the usefulness of feedback?

Initiates outreach and proactivity

  • Look for trends
  • Anticipate needs
  • Reach out to managers who could benefit from that knowledge or services

Consumes research

  • Conducts own outcome studies
  • Consumes research/writing in the EA field

 

 

 

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