Developing and Using Consultancy Skills (5CNS)
- November 13, 2020
- Posted by: Harry King
- Category: CIPD Level 5
Introduction to the unit
Developing and using consultancy skills is a unit in both human resource and leadership and development studies. The module helps the learners to understand consultancy as a process and the role it plays in an organisation. Students of this module will have an opportunity to explore different techniques and skills of an effective consultant. There are many HR roles that require understanding of consultancy skills and they include; addressing business needs through clients, negotiations and evaluation and closure to come up with a problem solutions. Importantly is to understand that, the unit will evaluate the characteristics of an effective consultant. The primary purpose of the unit is to develop the learners understanding of the nature of consultancy and all its related concepts. At the end of this unit , learners will be expected to be more confident and capable of providing customised solutions to meet the needs of different people and organisations.
Consultants are experts tasked with a specific role in a company. Unlike normal employees, consultants can either be internal or external with the responsibility of handling a specific needs. The unit is suitable for people seeking to work in HR and LD faculties. Additionally, individuals who may be interested in developing their consultancy skills can greatly benefit by enrolling for the unit. Persons tasked with the responsibility of marketing their consultancy portfolio can also benefit from understanding the skills and techniques for effective consultancy.
The aim of the unit is to:
- Develop the students understanding of consultancy.
- Identify different skills and techniques required for effective consultancy
- Build the learners’ confidence in providing customised solutions.
Importance of a consultant
The students who take this unit should understand that there are two types of consultant roles. There are independent consultants and consultants who are employed in an organisation. However, all consultants have a specific set of skills that makes them the expertise in a given area. Most consultants have skills in the people profession such as HR or leadership and development that helps them build relationships with their clients. The people skills are also essential in problem solving and making recommendations. Internal consultants, are responsible for implementation of the recommendations. External consultants usually travel to their clients organisations where they may stay for a few days as they make their assessments. External consultants offer independent advice based on their assessments.
The unit will cover the basic and typical activities that consultants do including but not limited to:
- Building relationships with their clients
- Understanding organisational needs
- Identifying solutions to meet the needs of a given organisation
- Writing reports and proposals
- Listening to the clients
- Managing projects so as to meet the client’s needs.
The unit will begin by defining consultancy, giving examples of consultancy and stages of the consulting process. It will further teach on the theories and models of consultancy. Organisations can benefit from either internal or external consultants. Leaners, will be able to assess different consultancy areas and contents of consultancy agreements. Furthermore, the unit will give students valuable lessons on how to approach consultancy in different contexts e.g. private organisations, public organisations or even non-governmental organisations. Importantly, the learners will be taught on the ethical considerations when practicing consultancy. The defining stages of the consulting process will also be explained to the learners. The stages include defining the needs of a particular business as the first stage in consultancy. In the following stages, the consultant should clarify expectations, gather and analyse information on the problem, make appropriate recommendations, impact sustainable change and take the closing stock or data.
The social element of consultancy is essential in achieving the desired results. A consultant should know how to work with different people to agree a learning and development solution. The unit will enable the learners to identify problems in organisations through development of proper problem identification skills. Learners will also learn how to develop opportunity identification skills through conducting interviews, attending meetings with stakeholders as well as reviewing documents. An element of good consultancy skills is being able to justify a costed solution. Learners will be taught how to advocate for solutions that pose minimal risks to an organisation while presenting the expected outcome. Progress reporting is also critical for both HR and LD practitioners. As a part of consultancy skills, the unit will help the learners understand the importance reporting on progress and the mode of reporting. Reporting on the solution and recommendations is also a critical element of consultancy. The last element covered by the unit will be the common problems encountered with client consultant relationships. The primary problems as they will be covered by the module include, communication challenges, unrealistic expectations and failure to observe and follow minor details.
At the end of the unit the students will be assessed and the person who has successfully completed the course should demonstrate:
- Understanding of the term consultancy and give the common stages of the consulting process. The student should be able to compare and contrast different types of consultancy as well as identify the stages of consultancy process.
- Build a relationship with their clients. Learners will be able to work with the clients to assess the problem or opportunity that needs to be acted on to achieve the desired outcome. The consultants will also work with the client to assess possible solutions and recommendations.
- Support a client during implementing. Support to the client can be demonstrated through progress reports or simple oral reporting. Learners will also make any necessary recommendations to ensure sustainability of the organisation. Discussing the common problems and ways of avoiding them is also crucial in client support.
The knowledge acquired at the end of the unit is essential for effective consultancy activities. All HR and L&D practitioners need to have the consultancy skills because their profession is highly dependent on consultation. Upon completion of the unit, aspiring HR and L&D professionals will become experts in effective consultancy thus making them more desirable by hiring organisations. Finally, learners have the responsibility to gain all the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver on their roles in an organisation.