Going deeper: Rudy Miick on facilitating clarity

In his latest column for Foodservice Consultant Rudy Miick FCSI urges colleagues to be inquisitive in their work with clients

As consultants, we are facilitators of ideas. At Miick Companies our purpose is to turn client dreams into achieved goals. We get consistent results, regardless of our client, by asking the right questions throughout any engagement.   

You and I – our teams – have expertise. As FCSI professionals, our expertise is a given. How we deliver that expertise is brand experience. What and how we deliver, is largely an outcome of what we hear, and how we hear it. For the client team that we’re mentoring, what we ask and how we ask it is critical. How do we get to the core, the essence of what we need to deliver great outcomes? My invitation is to gain clarity to truly understand the wants and needs of our clients and/or our team.   

Here are some quick tips you won’t learn in school and that will take results to the next level:

Go deeper (what does ‘clean’ mean?)

Listen for ‘story words’ – they are ‘generalities’ that might work in casual dialogue. Our clients are looking for return on investment. The magic of tangible results is a wonderful thing. 

We need to break down ‘story words’ to as much detail or data as we can.  

Here are some examples I hear from clients and team members consistently:   

I want a clean look and feel

We want great food and service

We need lots of light

We want really great quality

It’s easy to respond, “I agree” or “I disagree.” It’s easy to pretend we know. But why not go deeper? Your response might be: “What would clean look and feel like for you in this space?”  Even simpler, invite definition, “Please say more about ‘clean’.”         

With performance, the same sort of story examples show up:

Good attitude

Bad attitude

A+ performance

With performance, whether client or internal team issues, beware ‘story’ words and instead define the behaviors that model what you mean by good, bad or A+. Shift to behavior based feedback and watch performance improve. 

Stay in the present 

It’s easy to get caught in stories from the past or fear of the future, based on the past. As a consultant, coach, or facilitator, time is valuable. Regardless who is speaking – client, partner or staff – pay attention to “the tense.” If dialogue is stuck in the past or fear-based in the future, bring the conversation to the present. For example, “I hear the past, I hear the future. What can you/we do in this moment, right now, to shift performance going forward?” Or, even simpler, “What needs to shift so this doesn’t occur again?”  

Bring the conversation to the present. What needs to change, what needs to shift?  Shift it and watch the drama stop. Notice the time saved for your client and yourself. 

Rudy Miick FCSI is the founder and president of The Miick Companies, LLC.

Send your questions or comments to rudy@miick.com

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