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How, why, what: Rudy Miick FCSI on asking the right questions

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In this latest instalment in his column series for Foodservice Consultant, the MAS consultant offers his take on the questions that will lead to more effective results

As FCSI consultants we deliver ‘Best Solutions’ for a living.  We certainly do our best to do so, every time. At the same time, to keep asking “How effectively am I offering my ideas and/or solutions to our clients?” is imperative. This question is core to building one’s own brand, and certainly a question for any aspiring consultant. Why? Core to the “Brand Experience” you or I are known for, with clients – and our peers – is a continuum that ranges from “our sense of care and service” to “arrogance or ego.”

Being counted on to provide answers is a powerful part to play. Having the ability to address challenges from multiple perspectives and provide an effective idea or solution is the essence of expertise. At the same time, truly adept consulting builds client engagement in any given project. When done well, this “energy management” is a seemingly effortless, intrinsic ability and at the heart of getting to client best solution. What might seem intrinsic is usually well-oiled awareness, mindfulness.

Beyond content knowledge and expertise, here are three skills that play a major role in client engagement:

Skill 1 – I’m awake to the client culture

Almost every project has more than one client. How the relationship works within the client culture is always interesting. Ask yourself or your client:

Who’s the client of contact? Who’s reached out and who’s hired us?

Who’s the client of impact?  Who is affected and in what ways, by the work or solution we’re suggesting?

Who’s the client decision-maker? Is client of contact, impact, decision maker or payment the same? Rarely. Pay attention here.

Who’s ‘the client’ for payment?  Is the payment schedule clearly understood?  What happens if it isn’t?

Other points to consider:

What’s the culture norm?  The “ritual” is an amazing journey, from “small talk” to “get right to it” a miss in the process is a miss on the project and potential for “what’s next.”

At what “level of client system” are we playing?   Who’s in the room?  Who needs to be in the room?

Skill two – Asking the right question, the right way:

‘What’ or ‘how’ are far better words to begin a question than, ‘Why?’

More often than not, asking ’Why?’ has a shelf life of three or four times before the person being asked feels like they’re a little kid being called out.

If someone is in a meeting and hasn’t spoken, ask them, ‘What are your thoughts on …?’

And, if you or I need more information at the end of statement? Simply say, “Please say more.”

Skill three – Follow-through, ‘Do what I say I’ll do’

Simple as what’s said above. Can I, can my team, can we, be counted on to follow-through with deadline, with outreach, with more data, with call back?

The more each of us does what we say we’ll do, the more our value goes up!  This is the case for each of us individually, for our company brands, and yep, even for the impact of our FCSI designation.

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

Send your questions or comments are welcome to rudy@miick.com