4 Encourage business support clients to act for themselves


This is about developing the client’s autonomy. The client may be an individual or a team. It involves challenging, inspiring, provoking, stimulating and facilitating the client to develop new ways of working on their business and build their commitment to action.

To do this you have to choose appropriate ‘consultancy’ modes when you are making interventions with the client.

What you need to show

You must make sure that your practice meets the following requirements.

  1. Work with clients to identify their:
    • business aspirations;
    • style of learning; and
    • obstacles and stated and unstated objections to changing their ways of working or doing business.
  2. Where necessary, challenge their objections to change
  3. Work with clients to identify the know-how that would enable them to develop new opportunities for the business or new ways of working.
  4. Agree with clients the ways of learning that will be effective.
  5. Use a mode of consulting that is likely to be effective for each client at each stage of the relationship (for example, co-consulting, coaching).
  6. Use these chosen ways of learning and consulting when providing business support services to the client
  7. Support clients’ access to support resources that they can choose from.
  8. Help the client to resolve personal and interpersonal issues that might otherwise be obstacles to change.
  9. Encourage and reinforce clients in putting identified changes into action by providing feedback.

What you need to know and understand

You need to know, understand and be able to apply each of the following.

Interpersonal and communication skills

  1. How to use effective interpersonal and communication skills, including for:
    • dealing with clients;
    • listening fully and attentively;
    • questioning;
    • checking accuracy;
    • summarising;
    • reflecting back;
    • challenging;
    • respecting and acknowledging issues;
    • interviewing, reviewing and deciding on needs;
    • negotiation;
    • giving, receiving and passing on constructive feedback;
    • guaranteeing client confidentiality; and
    • dealing with difficulties.
  2. The benefits and drawbacks of different kinds of communication (for example, face-to-face contact, phone, fax and e-mail).

Support relationships

  1. You need to understand and take account of:
    • the conditions for accepting clients onto different business support services;
    • the benefits and drawbacks of working in different physical locations (for example, your organisation’s premises or your client’s premises);
    • the boundaries of the relationship between you and the client;
    • the ways that different clients prefer to work;
    • the limitations of your role and responsibilities; and
    • any relevant contractual obligations.
  2. The limits of your own abilities and understanding of business practice.

Providing support services

  1. How to respond to the client’s values, ways of thinking and business needs.

Supporting client development

  1. How to develop your client’s self-confidence.
  2. How to work with your clients to help them to develop skills that will improve their ability to compete with other businesses (for example, mentoring, coaching and e-learning).
  3. The theories and application of learning styles (for example, Kolb experiential model; auditory, visual, tactile/kinaesthetic; collaborative/activist, individual/reflective, theory-based/theorist or practice-led/pragmatist).
  4. What obstacles or barriers there may be to changing working or business practices (for example, personal emotional baggage or objections from other business partners).
  5. The principles and practice of different modes of consulting (for example, acceptant, catalytic, confrontational and prescriptive).

Personal behaviours

You need to show the following behaviours.

  1. Tailor your approach to align with the client’s goals and circumstances. IiP1.2
  2. Be fully aware of the impact of change on an organisation. IiP1.4
  3. Gain respect by operating in a professional and credible manner. IiP2.1
  4. Handle disagreements or resistance constructively and fairly. IiP2.3
  5. Remain positive and maintain effort despite setbacks, changes or ambiguities. IiP7.3
  6. Achieve results through the guided actions of others. IiP7.4
  7. Ask for support from specialists when you are not sure what to do.
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