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Research tips: Consultancy skills

This post is a collection of tips I got from the doctoral training (RSSDP) onConsultancy Skills” by Dr Caron King at Cardiff University.

  1. Consultancy = professional practices that give an expert advise to the company, a problem solving work.
  2. Begin with the end in mind (2nd of 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey)
     – Outcome thinking, what do you have to get done in the end.
    – Consultancy is about recognising what your clients really want for you because they are paying for your what you are doing.
    – Knowing what it is that the clients want and satisfy then.
    – Moreover to sustain the job, your jobs have to be good value for money
  3. The hardest part is how to sell your jobs. Then delivering a good value jobs will increase the chance that client will hire you again.
  4. Dedicated time = 5:4:3 (5 days fearing, 4 days with clients, 3 nights away from home)
  5. Start by working with the big companies for 3-4 years to learn how to do it.

Why a would anyone hire a consultant?

  1. Temporal resources. GBP 36,000 is the average cost of recruiting a doctoral level employee.
  2. Someone to blame – troublesome jobs
  3. My time is too valuable – too busy for the day jobs, need someone to work for
  4. Specialist knowledge – problem solving
  5. For access to their network
  6. Branding – kudos
  7. Legitimise their projects – get endorsed or forced by laws
  8. To manage something unpopular
  9. Ratify decisions – In the most cases clients know the solutions/answers but hiring consultant to support/back up their decision. Therefore, consultants are like the voices/spokespersons

How to get a consultancy jobs

  1. Networks

Consultancy process

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Clarify the problem
  3. Collect data
  4. Analyse the data
  5. Solve the problem
  6. Suggest the solution
  7. Agree the solution
  8. Implement the solution

What are the skills, knowledge and attributes we need

  1. Communication skills e.g., presentation skills
  2. Project management skills
  3. Analytical skills, both qualitative and quantitative = data analysis
  4. Research skills e.g., collect data, analyse data, conclude the result

The skills that recruit consultants (used by consultancy firms)
(The following listed skills are perfect for researchers as well!) 

  1. Communication
  2. Leadership
  3. Initiative
  4. Flexibility + Adaptability
  5. Problem solving
  6. Self awareness
  7. Commitment / Motivation
  8. Numeracy
  9. Willingness to learn
  10. Resilience
  11. Independence
  12. G.S.O.H. (Good Sense of Humour)
Key skills
  1. Listening
    (Open your mind, Listen for empathy, just gather data no interpreting or thinking at the same time) 
    Repetitive listening – repeat what you are hearing in your head as simultaneous as possible to get rid of other things.
    If taking notes, tell the clients that you will do a few, ask them to send you important information and write the whole note after the meeting. 
  2. Questioning
    Three big questions
    – Asking the questions that allow opened thinking
  3. Rapport building
    – to build trustworthy relationships
  4. Critical information seeking
  5. Challenging Assumption
  6. Pitching, elevating lift (in 90 seconds)
    HOOK technique
    Hook -> emotion
    Outline the problem in a short time!
    – Call To action
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