1. Consultant

    March 28, 2012 by christine

    SNATCHING VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT

    We worked with a consultant who was leading a critical piece of work with a global telecommunications company. He had failed to establish trust with one of the key stakeholders and their relationship was going from bad to worse. The consultant had to make the relationship work: his company would not tolerate losing this account and it was his responsibility to get it back on track.

    He had done everything he knew to understand and meet the client’s needs, but this one stakeholder seemed never to be satisfied. Working together was starting to seem impossible.

    We helped the consultant identify strategies for pulling the situation back from the edge. He noticed how he could trip himself up by feeling frustrated with the client stakeholder’s apparent intransigence. He then focused on the stakeholder’s agenda and planned how he could listen more effectively and ask incisive questions which would add value to their conversations. His aim was to get them both on to common ground.

    He identified the areas where the client stakeholder and he triggered unhelpful responses in each other, and those where they would be most likely to establish genuine cooperation. His next meeting with the client went so well, he sold £400K of services — surprising himself and exceeding his target. But most important he positioned the account for a long term, productive relationship.


  2. Principal Consultant

    by christine

    LEARNING TO LEAD BY NOT GETTING IN THE WAY OF YOUR TEAM

    This highly skilled technical consultant and manager worked on the customer’s site with his project implementation team. He was the central point of contact for all issues, which while reassuring for the customer was frustrating for him – he couldn’t find time to fulfil his management duties. Additionally he was a bottleneck: everyone had to wait in line until he could deal with their query, which slowed down response rates for resolving customer problems.

    The manager wanted to take a step back, trust people to do a good job and monitor what was being done. Micromanagement was an issue for him: he had been trying to extend his delegation skills for 15 years. Now he wanted his team to become the main point of contact for the customer.

    By adapting his coaching skills he quietly began to put his plan into action. He began asking the team questions to help them think through problems and come up with some options for moving forwards. Where the skill or will for taking on more responsibility was lower, he mentored and gently pushed people in the right direction rather than telling them what to do. He is now able to refer customer issues directly to one of his team to deal with. He said, ‘It is a little thing and it has had a big and positive impact. It gives the guys accountability to do something and I will be there if they need me.’

    Furthermore, he encouraged the team to use each other as a resource and to work out problems together rather than waiting to escalate it. By encouraging them to think for themselves, the team felt more engaged and involved in the tasks, which had a beneficial impact on motivation.

    Identifying high potentials in the team was also important. There is a real shortage of senior technical staff in the company, so developing his people has been a great advantage. They are now better equipped to work on different projects with more responsibility than before. Because the team has a wider skill set and capability, there is less reliance on the same few individuals, meaning there are more people who can take on increasingly challenging work from the customer. As for the customer, they know the team members and engage with them better. They also recognize the valuable contribution the team makes to the project, which helps the manager justify their professional rates.

    Having freed up some of his time, the manager was able to undertake senior technical work and be the manager. Additionally, he used his newly gained people skills to support valuable pre-sales work to help the company win more business, and was able to spend short periods away from the project contributing in this area, without affecting the quality of the service provided to their existing customer.

    The manager also reports improved work / life balance. He works fewer hours but both he and his team get more done, and make a far greater contribution to achieving company goals than before the manager’s coaching programme.


  3. Senior Business Consultant

    by christine

    ACHIEVING RESULTS THROUGH OTHERS

    We worked with a senior consultant, leading a virtual team across EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Afria). He wanted to build a high performing team but instead found himself constantly jumping on a plane to resolve operational issues faced by individual team members. He spent so much time on everybody else’s job he never seemed to have time for his own. Despite all his effort, he was having little impact on business results.

    His Accelerated Success programme enabled him to make a shift in thinking about his role as leader. He worked on how to achieve results through others rather than doing it all himself. He established a common purpose with the team and developed an effective communication strategy, greatly reducing the endless country hopping. He also learned how to delegate and assess team member’s will and skill, in order to achieve the results he wanted in the right time frame.

    He developed his people to do more of the right things, which freed him up to focus on high value activities in his role. As for results, he went on to exceed his targets in this and subsequent years and has since achieved two promotions.


  4. Senior Technical Consultant

    by christine

    COLLABORATION ACHIEVES A MORE PRODUCTIVE OUTCOME

    A talented key player, much in demand with customers and colleagues, this consultant set high standards high for herself and her team. She played a critical role in high profile contracts, worked hard and cared about her contribution. Able to analyse complex data quickly and come up with a solution, the consultant of often felt frustrated when her colleagues couldn’t keep up. This was exasperated when up against a deadline and often led to her being aggressive and confrontational when the team needed to make a decision on how to move forwards. Not surprisingly her direct approach alienated both colleagues and customers.

    Behaving in a professional manner was always important to her and she wanted her Accelerated Success programme to help her promote positivity, not discord. We worked on the theory that, if she wanted her customer to go somewhere with her, first she has to go to where they were. Instead of telling the customer ‘the answer’ to a problem she began to help customers understand issues before she recommended potential solutions. This wasn’t an easy or over night transition. Indeed, it took time, hard work and patience. We set small goals, reviewed progress and looked for signs of progress along the way.

    As a result she is now more collaborative and less confrontational. In customer meetings she listens more and says less – customers ask for her advice. She continues to provide thought leadership and advice by enabling, not directing. Customers benefit from a more pleasant working atmosphere, more positive results, and report a feeling of ownership, learning and knowledge about their project.

    And finally, in 2012, after a number of years in the company, she was delighted to win her first consulting excellence award.


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