Organizational Consultation: An Appreciative Approach–VII. The Consultative Process: Stages 1 and 2

Organizational Consultation: An Appreciative Approach–VII. The Consultative Process: Stages 1 and 2

Stage One: Entry

The initial contact between a consultant and client often determines the degree of success in a consultation. Furthermore, entry often lasts for a considerable period of time even though the consultation has seemed to move beyond this initial stage. When a consultant is brought in to conduct a short workshop or make a speech, this brief presentation sometimes serves as her “entry” into the institution and is not meant by itself to be a significant intervention into the client system. The essential tasks in any entry process are initial identification of the client and the audience, and, based on this identification, establishment of a trustful working relationship between the client and consultant.

Initial Contact with the Client Institution

Usually the first contact between an institutional leader and a consultant occurs via email, letter, telephone or personal encounter (at a conference, workshop, etc.) Typically, the initial contact includes a statement by the contact person about the general nature of the convening problem or need that precipitated the request for a consultant, as well as some general statement about the extent of the consultation itself. The consultant should share information about her fees, availability and, if requested, relevant background, knowledge or skills in the problem or need area defined by the contact person.

Identification of the Client and Audience

The initial contact person may or may not be the ultimate client of the consultation. Sometimes the individual is the real client, i.e., the entire problem that he or she confronts is within the client’s capacity to resolve with consultant assistance. Sometimes, however, the client should be seen not as the ultimate operational client but as the entry client; that is, an individual through whom access to the operational client may be possible. Given this distinction, one of the tasks in the initial contact between a consultant and entry client is the identification of the “real” or ongoing client. In those instances where the ongoing client is not the entry client, he may be the bill payer or the person who works with the consultant on a daily basis.


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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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