Feedback is a huge part of what I do in my daily life. I give feedback in my role as a consultant to help my client do something better or avoid something bad. Early in my career, I began learning about right and wrong ways to provide feedback. Sometimes I did it okay, other times I really booted it.
As a professional, spouse, parent and now grandparent, I’m still learning about how to provide feedback—when to give it, and when to keep my mouth shut. I adopted the mantra, “My job is to tell you what I think; yours is to decide what to do with it.” It gives me freedom to constructively speak my mind, while acknowledging the recipient may or may not use what I told them.
When I started writing, I got a better appreciation for the “yours is to decide what to do with it” part of the mantra. I get feedback from you as ProjectManagement.com readers, from book reviewers, and from my editor (who is also my wife). Patty edits virtually everything I write and does an outstanding job of making my work better.
Through my career as an author, I had to learn how to be a graceful recipient of feedback—and constructively decide what to do with it. Regardless of how painful the feedback was to hear, I had to recognize it was for my own good.
There are four paths a feedback recipient could take:
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My wife Patty and I some time back completed a massive renovation on a townhome in the Seattle area. The townhome was built in the late 70's and was decorated using all of the finest materials that the Disco era had to offer. The original owners liked it so much that they changed precisely nothing for the 30 years they lived there right down to the 8-track player on the guest room night stand. We purchased the townhome in late 2009 with the intention of renovating the townhome and occupying it after our son graduated high school.
So let’s say you went through the 12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming an Independent Consultant—and you still want to take the plunge. This article will give you the must-do items to complete before opening your doors.
It’s common to be excited about getting your consultancy going and landing that first gig—passion is great! But you absolutely need to get a few things in order first. I can’t stress this enough: If you skip over considering the 10 steps below, you are setting yourself up for potentially big problems later. This is a “measure twice, cut once” thing. (I think you get my point by now…)
My experience is setting up a U.S. company in the state of Washington. You should use the advisors and other suggestions that are right for your consultancy’s location.
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During winter my hands tend to dry out and get chapped. One night when my hands felt like sandpaper I asked my wife if she had any hand lotion. "Sure, what kind do you want?" she asked. "The hand lotion kind," I said like the knuckle-dragger I am. She then handed me an ice bucket which contained the following:
In my four decades as a professional, I’ve worked as a consultant at Accenture, hired consultants at Microsoft, and engaged with many clients while running my own firm. I’ve seen consulting from many different vantage points—some very positive, others not so much.
Of all these, I have by far enjoyed working in my own consultancy the most. I’m in no way trying to dismiss Accenture or Microsoft; I’m still on friendly terms with them, and strongly advocate them as employers. But going off on my own worked out best for me.
Hanging your own shingle is a bit like a bungee jump: it’s exciting, exhilarating and scary all at the same time. I’ve learned that branching off as an independent consultant isn’t for everyone, and that the most important first step anyone could take is to do some honest introspection on whether being an independent consultant is for him or her.
To that end, I have developed 12 questions that I believe are important to ask if you want to be your own consulting boss:
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Bud was one of the most brilliant people in his organization. Only in his mid-thirties, Bud amazed his senior managers with his ability to grasp problems and develop innovative and effective solutions to those problems. He was highly sought after as a "go-to" guy and would consistently come up with creative approaches. His management decided to give him a thorny project with a team of over 100 professionals. "This is my chance to really prove I can deliver", Bud thought as he willingly accepted the project.
Bud wasted no time in coming up with some great solutions which his management thought were brilliant. Expectations were sky-high and Bud was on a project high. Then the problems started.
In my four decades as a professional, I’ve delivered many presentations and keynotes. Some went well, others totally bombed. Through my learnings about both the good and bad, I’ve identified key success factors necessary to create and deliver compelling presentations. The factors, which I call the “4 C’s of Compelling Presentations,” have helped me more effectively get my point across. Let’s dig right in…
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A number of years back I was in a meeting with two HR representatives at my company.They were explaining to me how the HR organization wanted to be more “strategic” with its clients and how they wanted to help us with annual resource planning. At the time, our biggest problem was filling open positions with qualified candidates; a number of key positions had been open for months with no qualified candidates in the hiring pipeline. When I asked the HR reps about how they were going to help with this problem, they both told me that they didn’t have time to address the hiring issues because they were tasked with being more “strategic”. Needless to say, the meeting went downhill in a hurry because the HR reps were more interested in fulfilling the HR organization’s “be strategic” mandate than they were in helping me with my real-life problem.
Greg, a team leader, is meeting with team members Tarun and Priyanka. “So, you’ll get that report done next week?” he said to them.
“Sure thing,” Tarun said.
“Great, see you next week. Have a good weekend.”
Greg gets up and leaves the room. Priyanka closes the door after Greg leaves.
“Why did you agree to get the report done?” asked Priyanka, who had just transferred to Greg’s team and had no experience working with him.
Tarun smiled. “Don’t worry about it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Greg does this all the time. He makes these off-the-wall requests then totally forgets that he even asked us to do something. I used to burn the midnight oil stressing over meeting the requests—only to find out he didn’t even remember asking me. I learned to ignore the requests since they probably would never be brought up again.”
“So, you just say you’ll do it, then do nothing?” Priyanka asked.
Tarun got up and walked toward the door. “Yup, you’ll get the lay of the land here soon enough.”
“Um, okay,” Priyanka said as she got up to leave the meeting room.
*** *** ***
Tarun had been burned multiple times by seemingly important requests from Greg, only to find out that nothing would come of the hard work. Ironically, Tarun was able to positively influence his work satisfaction by not spending time on things he knew Greg would never bring up again. He figured out one of his manager’s biggest weaknesses...
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Our son, Trevor, has worked for our company twice—once right after he graduated from college in 2015, and again in September 2021 after working three years at a non-profit. His official title is Chief Storyteller.
Since working for us, Trevor has written and published two books, re-illustrated a third, and is actively learning the publishing business. He also has a goal of writing young adult books, and as of this writing is working on his first fiction piece.
Trevor was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age 6, and throughout his life has had his share of challenges. When we first hired Trevor, we were faced with how to align on goals, give him some flexibility as to how he achieved the goals, and avoid micro-managing him with frequent “What are you working on today?” requests.
To address the need, we devised something we call the “dones” process, which aligns us on long-term goals and short-term deliverables that align to the long-term goals. We have successfully been using this throughout his employment tenure, and it has proven to be effective in keeping my wife Patty and I aligned with Trevor’s work.
After I told a few colleagues about the process, I consistently heard how valuable this could be for neurotypical people, not just for people on the autism spectrum. So I wanted to explain precisely how we manage to dones and provide a tool you can use with your leader (or if you are a leader yourself, use with your staff).
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