Shane Lukas in his fantastic book 'Putting Excellence into Practice' suggests that in order to get the most out of your partnerships with clients you need to ascertain the type of working relationship that is needed. He focuses on the 3 of Coaching, Mentoring and Consultancy and outlines what each role entails.
Fundamentally the following consists of:
A coach questions
A mentor teaches
A consultant tells
Obviously its not quite that straight forward, with a-lot of nuances to each specific role, but the above list tells a picture of the type of clients you may end up working with.
I believe it is important to establish early the type of working partnership that will best suit the client. Thinking of some of my current clients, I can easily list off those who fall into each category, and some who don't fall into any as they are not looking for that type of service.
One of my current clients is fantastic at what they do and has an international client base, and is a really expert in what they do, but is not skilled at the financial side of their business. They want me to be fill the consultancy role within their organisation, and essentially do the investigations/work and then tell them what needs to be done. In this partnership, the style works wonderfully, and we have seen some tangible success over the past 12 months +.
Thinking back to my M.Ed and the research I carried out into coaching with Gifted Secondary School students (see below), the parallels are striking. The same questioning methodology, whether something popular like the GROW or CLEAR models, or something less well known like the STEPPA or OSCAR models applies. Asking thought-provoking questions without agenda or a specific end in sight is key to this process being successful with clients. Being objective and encouraging them to delve deeper into their process, their whys, and their objectives is key to success with this model. Anyone can be a good coach, you just need to learn the process, you don't need to have direct experience of the subject in question, in fact the less you know the better. I have seen evidence of Managers and Directors being coached my junior staff successfully.
Having run the NQT/ECT programmes for one of my previous schools, I can say that Mentoring is very important with individuals new to a working environment. They do not have the same depth of knowledge and experience to fall back on and need more of a guiding hand. This is where the your history comes in. Mentoring would be very suitable for start-ups or new entrepreneurs. I know that I am thankful for a selection of individuals who supported me in my early stages of my career as both a teacher and an accountant. Asking them questions and seeking advice is key to this relationship working. They have the knowledge, experience and skills, and its is the job of the Mentor to impart that onto the mentee to help guide them
As part of our on-boarding process we establish which of the 3 types of working relationship (if any) will work best along side our partnership to ensure. We also offer Consultancy and Coaching services outside of our bookkeeping and accountancy work.If you are interested please get in touch.
Thanks for Reading