The Lens That Make A Difference
Our guest Mick Rogers a consultant at Client Centred Consulting spoke passionately about the lens that make a difference. As Mick explains,
“ Client Centred Consulting leans away from being prescriptive. Instead a Client Centered Consulting approach asks the question, how can we help and be useful when we’re not the expert in the problem or in the subject? Client centeredness is a way of maintaining, respecting and working with the rights of other people. This lens recognises that for us to survive and thrive we need other people.”
“We encourage a different approach of engaging with people who are undertaking changes, for them to explore the change themselves and understand the change themselves as well. . We believe if you accept the other person’s issues and problems and work with those, rather than some imagined issue that you’ve brought with you, you’re gonna have a much better chance of moving forward with the team of people you’re working with. This stuff isn’t easy. It’s very different from what we’re used to.” says Mick.
There are very few problems in the world that people don’t have feelings about. To be compassionate is a natural human quality. The experiential Client Centred Consulting programme leaves people feeling more comfortable about dealing with people’s feelings and working with emotions in the workplace. This helps them be better consultants in terms of helping people who are coming to them, asking them to help.Dr Mick Rogers
“The safe environment witnesses people getting engaged with their emotions, letting them come to the fore while letting go of their defences. “We encourage people to bring real issues cause they got some consultants to help them.” continues Mick.
Bill Evans co-author of “Consulting for Real People” invites people to have the generosity to be clients and the courage to be consultants.
Mick Rogers has extensive experience of organisational change in large multinationals and SMEs in a number of industry sectors, both in Europe and the US. He’s a champion for empowerment and collaboration and has successfully initiated and led change programs.
00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your host, Tesse Akpeki, and your co-host me, Paula Okonneh. Where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. This is a journey of discovery. We are learning that leadership is personal and professional, and we hope you will walk with us in this adventure. Our topic today is “Client Centered Consulting, The Lens That Make A Difference”. And our guest today is Dr. Mick Rogers. I’ll tell you about Mick Rogers. He’s on a mission to improve how we work together and the organizations we find ourselves in. He became a client centered practitioner after first attending the five day program in 2006. And Mick has extensive experience of organizational change in large multinationals and SMEs in a number of industry sectors, both in Europe and the US. He’s a champion for empowerment and collaboration and has successfully initiated and led all the change programs that have ranged from involving a handful of people to many thousands of processed users. Mick joined the “Client Centered Consultant” or “CCC” in 2021 as a consultant and program facilitator. And he’s on a mission to ensure that the methods and practice of “CCC” are available to future managers, future leaders, coworkers, team members, and anyone else who has to work with other people. Wow. Thank you Mick, for coming to our show.
00:02:06 Mick: Thank you very much for inviting me, Tesse and Paula.
00:02:09 Tesse: Hi Mick. I am so excited that you said yes to coming and, it’s always a joy to see you and to hear you. You know, I love that you’re passionate about “CCC Client Centered Consulting”. And I’m aware that there are other threads other types or the approaches to consulting. So what makes CCC different from other types of consulting?
00:02:37 Mick: I guess a good place to try and start to answer that question is just to maybe clarify what we mean by Client Center Consulting. When we use the phrase consulting and we’re talking about people being consultants. We’re not necessarily talking about business consultants or management consultants, although they can be. What we’re talking about is anybody who has, anybody who asks them help. So if someone, somebody comes and asks you to help with something and you agree to help them, you’re effectively a consultant. You’re agreeing to consult with them on whatever problem that they have. And the reason why I say that is, cause quite often, when we have people come on the program, they say, well, isn’t this coaching or isn’t this training of some sort and it might be, but we use a very broad term of consulting. So for us, a consultant is anybody who agrees to help someone who asks them to help. We used the use the word clients as well, cause a client is the person asking for help. It’s a very formal world, but it might be a friend or a colleague who pops their head around the corner of the office and says, have you got five minutes to help with this. In that interchange there’s a client person wanting help and there’s the consultant. So that’s what we mean by clients and consultants. I guess the bit that makes what we do different is this, the client centered bit. We at “Client Centered Consulting”, we believe that we can help people quite often better than any other ways, by working solely within their frame of reference. And by that we mean not being prescriptive. Most consultants, particularly business consultants, they’re prescriptive. They come in with a toolbox or an expertise and speciality, which you ask them to and they apply that on your problem. Which can be very useful. But what we try and do with “Client Center Consulting” is ask the question, how can we help when we’re not the expert in the problem? And that’s what we do, and what we train people, encourage people to do, is to work in other ways other than being prescriptive, which still help people fix their own problems. So that’s kind of what we mean by Client Center Consulting. If that makes any sense at all.
00:04:47 Tesse: Absolutely brilliant. I mean, it’s brought a clarity that is very, very helpful and I’m sure very useful. I’m sure Paula, you know, your curiosity, where does that lie? ,
00:05:03 Paula: I’m fascinated by this whole concept of a client can be anyone. So even if I pop my head around the corner and ask you a question and you answer, I’m the client and you’re the consultant, did I get that right?
00:05:16 Mick: Yeah, pretty much. It can be as big or little. Sometimes it can be a very formal arrangement. It may be that you’re going into a company as a formal consultant and their problem might be something which takes a bit of explanation and a bit of help to understand. So, and then you may need to write other that up in some way or another. But it can be as simple as someone to say, I really dunno what to do with this, can you help. And in that instance, you’ve got a client. It’s someone with a problem that needs some assistance. And you’ve got a consultant, which is yourself, if you agree to help them. You may turn around and say, sorry, too busy. You’re not a consultant at that point in time. But, or whoa, this is too scary for me, I can’t help you with this. But if you agree to help them, then that’s the way the term that we use, consultant and you’re consulting with someone who has an issue that they would like some help with.
00:06:09 Paula: So with that, I mean like, how can people explore this and get to know a bit more about what you do? I mean, from what you’re saying, it’s not just, don’t just focus on businesses. It’s for nonprofits, I assume for small business owners. How can me as a small business owner gain from what you do?
00:06:31 Mick: Well, one of the things that we’re very keen at, keen with the whole concept of client centerness, is leaving what we call a self sustaining client system. Now, this is one of the other things that we think is a benefit of taking a client centered approach, as opposed to a more prescriptive approach. When you go into a company, as a consultant with a particular specialist skill and you fix their problem for you, then they’re very grateful. But typically the next time they have that same problem, they have to ask you back again, to come and fix the problem again. That’s dependency. Now that can just be a natural consequence of the way we do work. Some companies may even use that as a marketing strategy. I think McKinsey very famously have the land and expand which was their approach at one point in time. At “Client Center Consulting” we try to move away from that, or we try to ensure that doesn’t happen. We believe in what we call, self sustaining client system. And the whole point of that is rather than them having to come back to us as the experts again to fix the problem, they have the expertise themselves. So what we don’t tend to do is come in and fix people’s problems for them, if someone said I’ve got this particular issue to solve. We just fix it and walk away. We give them the skills and the tool sets to be able to do that themselves. And the way we do this typically is through our five day training program that we run. Which we either run in house, so we will run it with a company, with people directly. Or we also run open programs, where we have people from various companies come along and attend this program and learn how to be more client centered, how to be useful to people that are not the experts in the subject.
00:08:22 Paula: I absolutely love it. I love it. You give them the tool set and then they work with that. And they come away, not with you being the expert per se, but you’ve walked hand in hand with them in other words, to get them to be in a better position from where they started.
00:08:40 Mick: Yeah. So they can go and help with the people more to fix their problems in the future as well. And the real coolest thing about all this, if that’s not cool enough, the really coolest thing is the way we do it. The theory, if you will, or the theoretical background that’s “Client Center Consulting sits on, there are two main pillars. One of them is the work with Carl Rogers who did a lot of work in client center therapy. And this is where we get the client centeredness from. It’s not therapy, what we do, but Carl Rogers said was that people pretty often know the solution to their own problems, and there’s often something emotional that’s getting in the way stopping solving these problems. And this is what we find with change management typically. And this is where “Client Center Consulting” is very effective. When you are going through a change program in your workplace. So, what we would say is rather than being prescriptive, telling them how they’re gonna change, and what they need to do, and when they need to do it by. We encourage a different approach of engaging with people who are undertaking changes to, for them to explore the change themselves and understand the change themselves as well. And this avoids the, some of the emotional blockers, the feelings that stop people from wanting to change things, because they feel bad about it, or they feel bad about the person they’re working with or they hate the person or whatever it is. Because quite often it’s not the actual change itself that they’re objecting to, but it’s the fact that they don’t feel part of it and cause they haven’t been part of it and they don’t tell them. So we very much focus on the change being owned by the people, the change has been effective on the people, which is where the Carl Rogers works comes in. But we work from a position of what we call unconditional positive regard. I love that phrase. That’s absolutely gorgeous. And this is about accepting the position of the other person. And this is what we believe. We believe if you accept the other person’s issues and problems and work with those, rather than some imagined issue that you’ve brought with you, you’re gonna have a much better chance of moving forward with the team of people you’re working with. So we start from a position of unconditional positive regard. We accept the other person’s concerns or whatever they are and help work through those issues. To do that we use some intervention styles, and this is the other foundation behind “Client Center Consulting”, which is the work of, Blake and Mouton who wrote a horrendous book called Consulting. I say horrendous it’s fantastic, but it’s really difficult to read really hard work, hard going, but tremendously insightful. And they identified four different consulting styles. “Prescription”, which is the one we all tend to use, which is when we go and tell someone what their problem is and how to fix it. But they also speak about three other consulting styles, one being “Acceptant”, another being “Catalytic”, another being Confrontational”. I don’t have time to go into all those styles, but they’re very much working within the frame of reference of the client. So this came from Blake and Morton’s work. But the other thing, which they came out with, which is the real cool thing in what we do on the five day program is this notion of experiential learning. The whole of the program is considered as a consulting exercise. There are no lectures, there are no PowerPoint presentations, there are no sitting behind desks and taking notes. It is all about experiencing what it’s like to be client centered and working in a client centered way. The advantage of this is the learning is so rich. Because people are working with their own real problems and real issues, not imagine problems or scenarios. The learning is so rich that people are comfortable to take a very new style and a very new way of working into the workplace the following Monday and start using it, and that’s a huge benefit to organizations. It’s not something that they just learn in theory, and they’re not able to apply in practice, cause the whole of the five day program is about practice.
00:12:44 Tesse: This is such a rich chair. It’s kind of, I’m listening Paula and, you know, what you’re saying, it’s actually rocking my world. Cause I can see how people don’t need a very long gestation period before they begin to see the effects of using this approach. So can you share with us an example or two? Of where you saw things change when someone, or even yourself applied this way of thinking or doing things or being, in a way that would make a difference from when they would apply the traditional kind of consulting style.
00:13:28 Mick: And I can only speak for me, but I can speak from what other people have told me as well, who had similar experiences of the program. It’s not just something that you use at work. We ran a program recently in house for a corporation, and this was some of the feedback that we had from the attendees, from the participants. They just said, wow, “this is nothing to do with work it’s everything to fo with being human. And I’d like to be more human at work, so I’m gonna use this at work. We talk about feelings a lot on the program and which scares the living bejeesus outta people to start off with, I think. Because we’re not used to doing it in work. And more often than not people are on this program cause it’s related to their work. I struggle, I’ve always struggled when people have said, leave your feelings at the door, you know, this is all about being objective. Cause you can’t, I can’t, and I know very few people who can. Particularly if we’re dealing with problems, cause there’s very few problems in the world that you don’t have feelings about. That’s why it’s a problem. Because you feel strongly about it one way or the other. You either feel strongly about holding onto something, or strongly about letting go of something. So working with feelings is an essential part it, and this is what people pick up on with very quickly. We not the program I was just talking about, but a previous program this year that we were running, there was a guy on there and he was not long off the shop floor. And this just sitting in a conference room for five days with some other guys and girls was a new experience for him. But he really took to it, and he said about halfway through the week, he came in the one morning, he says.” My wife asked me last night why do I keep asking her how I feel about things?” This is not an uncommon experience, people just take it on naturally. It’s not like you, you have to think here’s an instance to apply it in. It just becomes part of how you start to be with people. And for me, it was a very beneficial way of being with people. I remember maybe a year or so after I’d originally done the program, the company I was working for at the time I had a development review with one of the HR business partners. And she asked me what training I’d been doing, and I mentioned this program and she said, “oh, can you tell what that’s about”? So I tried to explain it to her, and I didn’t do a very good job. And I said, “well, the best way I can explain it to you is that after I’d done the program, I wanted to ring up everybody who had the misfortune for working for me in the past and apologize for having been a complete asshole in how I was trying to manage them. Cause I was trying to be prescriptive. I thought the job of a leader was to tell people what to do. Now in my defense that’s what I’d been taught. All the training and management leadership programs that I’ve been on told you, you’re the leader, being a good leader is being prescriptive and telling people what to do. Now that never sat comfortably with me, and I always felt that well, actually, these people have a right to have an opinion as well, as we all do, as I do. Client centeredness is a way of ensuring that you maintain and respect and work with the rights for other people.
00:16:38 Tesse: So if somebody is trying to make a kind of shift because from what you’re saying, there is a paradigm shift involved here and there’s that kind of a prescriptive approach, and I tell you what to do, or I show you what to do, or I recommend what I know you should do, which some consultants are doing. How, how can they make this shift? How can that shift become easier?
00:17:09 Mick: I think the good news is from my perspective, all we’re really doing on Client Center Consulting is reminding people of what it’s really like to be human, to care for other people. I think this is an innate function and feature within people. Carl Rogers certainly thought that, and there are many other writers, authors, whatever you wanna call ’em, sociologists out there who believe this as well. There’s a guy called, Norbert Elias. I’m not an expert on this, but he was like the premier sociologist of the 20th century or something like that. And his big question was, why do we have civilizations? Why aren’t we just going around on the head, you know, going around, bashing each other on the head with sticks and taking from what we want. So this was his big animating question throughout his life. And he wrote many books on it. He’s Opus Magnus if you like was called the civilizing process, which was exactly about that. And like most great authors and researchers, you know after many, many years of research, they put it so simply. He said, the reason why we have society, is that we recognize that we need other people more than they need us. And I think that is just such a truism. I mean, humans are not red in tooth and claw. We don’t have thick hides, we don’t have sharp teeth and nails. We’re not as strong as all, you know, vast majority of other species on the planet. In order for us to survive we need other people, this is why we need societies. Unfortunately, we forget about that sometimes, particularly when we’re in competitive environments, which workplaces have become over the last a hundred years or so. And certainly in the west. And what we do on “Client Center Consulting” is provide an environment where people can remind themselves of this, is the best way I can describe it. We had a young chap on the program we just did, wonderful guy, engineer. He got a, master’s just doing an MBA, used to have this look of fear on his face when we started talking about feelings at the start of the week. Well, it was, he really was not in a comfortable place. The feedback at the end of the week is. Wow. I can do this. It feels great. I like asking people about feelings. It was just marvelous, magnificent.
00:19:23 Paula: Wow. Sitting back here, listening to you and I mean, there’s wisdom that’s involved in a lot of this is almost like common sense. I mean, if you ask people how they feel and you are an environment with many people and you listen. You probably gonna get a better result at the end of the day, because you know how to be, it’ll be easier to work with them because everyone will tell you where they are and then you are focusing on them, and you are helping them solve their problems. I love it. I love it. I love it. What I got out, a phrase that jumped out at me is, we form communities and societies because we realized that we need other people. We need each other.
00:20:13 Mick: We need other people more than they need us. That’s the key thing for making it.
00:20:17 Paula: We need other people more than they need us. So, I’m looking at the time and there’s so much still to ask. But because we have a time factor, I’m almost wanting to say, are there any more words of wisdom about from CCC that you can share with our audience?
00:20:37 Mick: For sure. Don’t get me wrong, this stuff isn’t easy. And it’s very different from what we’re used to. The reason why we’re able to do a transformation to such a degree in a week’s time, is firstly, like I said, cause the things that we’re working with, it’s innate in all to care. To be compassionate, I just believe that’s a natural human quality. An essential one as well that we forget about sometimes or we put priorities on other things. We think that when we’re in the field of managing change, which is typically where this will be applied. We talk about it being skills for leaders, managers and change agents. So I can’t describe as anybody who has to work with anybody else at any other point in time will benefit from taking good client centered approach. And, the reason why we’re able to do this in such a short space of time, is one, the program is just beautiful. That’s the only way I could describe it. The way the program works, which works as you wouldn’t be surprised at the pace of the client, it’s not a prescriptive program. It would be a bit self-defeating of us to come in and just teach for the whole of the week. It’s not what we did. If anything, the facilitators we are very experienced in working this in this way. Model the kind of behaviors that we think are beneficial. And we allow the people to make their own way through it at their own pace throughout the course of the week. And generally by the end of the week, pretty much everybody’s got there. And they’ve got their own version of it, but that’s fine. But they go away at the end of the week, feeling more comfortable about dealing with people’s feelings and working with emotions in the workplace. Which helps them be better consultants in terms of helping people who are coming to them, asking them to help. The other thing that we have, apart from some rock solid foundations. We have a very good textbook to refer to, which was written by, Bill Evans, Peter Cockman and Peter Reynolds. Bill Evans is currently the owner of, and founder of “Client Centered Consulting”. It’s called “Consulting For Real People. It’s an excellent read on its own, but it’s the kind of outline of what we do on the program. It’s available for more good book sellers, if people wish to that on that and our website as well. There’s also a link to bit of introduction to it as well. Most important thing for me is the experiential nature of the program. It really is, that’s, there’s just something beautiful about it. And you see throughout the course of the week people getting engaged with this and letting go of their defenses and letting their emotions come to the fore. It’s not called weepy Wednesday for nothing halfway through the week. And we have teary Thursday as well, but it’s all good stuff. And we have happy emotions. You know, people when they talk about emotions, they think they’re bad. We have, I can see Tesse laughing though. So definitely we have happy emotions. But throughout the week, people get, feel safe enough. I guess we generate a secure enough environment for five people who may never, five to seven people who may never have met each other before that Monday, to really open up and allow themselves to experience what it feels like to be a client on client centered and to be a consultant on client centered as well. Bill has this wonderful phrase that I just love. He says that “we invite people to have the generosity to be clients and the courage to be consultants”.
00:24:12 Paula: That was a Marvel. I mean, I asked for was the wisdom. That’s awesome. That’s a great takeaway. Can you say that again?
00:24:21 Mick: When we’re on the program, the main thing we encourage people to do, cause it is an experiential program. If they just sit there and take notes, you know, they’re not gonna get the benefit. If they tend to talk about problems, they’re not gonna get the benefit. So we encourage people to bring real issues cause they got some consultants to help them with it. And the phrase that Bill uses that I absolutely love is that “we encourage people to have the generosity to be clients and the courage to be consultants”.
00:24:50 Paula: I love that. Tesse, we were planning to wrap up. Can we wrap up with that?
00:24:55 Tesse: I actually think that, that’s such a good note to wrap up about the encouragement to be generous as clients and bring real issues. Things that really matter without masking, without pretending, but also to have the courage to be clients. To walk alongside people. To be compassionate. To be empathetic. To connect. To care enough. To love and to support. Mick what can I say? I knew you were going to bring gold and you have brought platinum. Thank you so much.
00:25:35 Mick: Thank you. .
00:25:38 Paula: He brought platinum indeed. Wow.
00:25:43 Mick: Wow. It’s Bill’s platinum, not mine.
00:25:51 Paula: And now to our amazing audience, if you just leaned into Bill’s platinum as Mick calls it, thank you so much for tuning in. And we ask you our audience to head over to Apple podcast or Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere else that you listen to podcasts and please follow us and also click subscribe. And if you would like what you just heard, well, who wouldn’t like, what you just heard, please write us a raving review. If you have questions or topics, you’d like us to cover related to leadership and governance, please send us a note. And remember your questions could be personal as well as professional. And last but not least, if you’d like to be a guest on the show, please head over to “Tesseakpeki.com/TesseTalks” to apply.