The best thing coaches and consultants can do for their clients is take themselves out of the equation—literally.
It’s easy to for consultants and coaches to get caught up in thinking they are the solution. And in some ways, they are. For sure, coaches and consultants can be the pathway to a solution; but the solution isn’t personal.
More importantly, an effective solution isn’t dependent on the person who delivers it.
An effective solution is sustainable, replicable, and continues to work—regardless of who manages the solution. This is important because in most cases, a client and consultant will not work together indefinitely. A consultant or coach that provides a solution dependent on his or her presence is lazy. They don’t see the bigger picture or support their client’s continued progress. Clearly, when they hold themselves as the solution, they are not empowering their client to succeed.
Life goes on.
Sometimes that means clients and coaches outgrow one another. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, I believe when a personal development coach’s work is done well, a large share of their clients will outgrow their services. That doesn’t mean they don’t continually need a coach, but the type of coach they need changes over time. As a person’s needs grow and evolve, so will the difficulties they face and the coaches they choose to help resolve their immediate concerns. Through this progression, individuals advance, and so do their skills.
Coaches help people realize their inherent power and use the skills they’re gifted with and those they’ve developed. Coaches don’t supply the power. They also don’t hold people back when their life circumstances or needs change.
In corporations, the risk of being tied to a consultant can be greater when life doesn’t go on as planned.
People face unexpected emergencies, get sick, and even die. Some joke about getting hit by a proverbial bus—but the truth is, tragedies like this happen every day. If a client’s future is reliant on a consultant, it’s fallible. The minute the consultant becomes unavailable, the company is in jeopardy. The more entangled the consultant, the more at risk the client is.
Before that happens—and I’d contend before beginning work with a client—a good consultant implements a plan to take themselves out of the equation. They plan for their inevitable departure and implement accordingly. All the while, rooting for the client’s continued success.
Here are three key ways consultants work themselves out of a job (so they can move on to new ones) and empower their clients:
- Documentation for the win! The best, most effective thing consultants can do for their clients is document everything. This includes policies, procedures, scripts, brand stories, and knowledge stored in obscure places (like their head). When step-by-step instructions are created, tested, and accessible, others can step in and do what’s necessary.
- Establish, test, and improve replicable processes and systems. Progress is not haphazard. It’s planned for and developed over time. Successful systems are continuously improved. Systems that make money consistently are repeatable.
- Train others and develop a succession plan. Systems and documentation work better when there’s a knowledgeable person at the helm. Bring in others to support the cause and ensure they are confident and comfortable working the system—before tragedy or separation occurs.
As someone who spent 25 years working with third-party administrators and in business integration, I know how valuable the keys of documentation, systems, and training are to move a business forward. It’s fitting that after my corporate position was eliminated, I used these three keys to effectively transition my workload to others.
Shortly thereafter, I realized my inherent power and began to advance the skills I was gifted with and those I’ve developed.
Today, as a consultant, I begin with that end in mind, communicate expectations, and follow these three keys to transition the work before being presented with or delivering an unexpected hardship—like my departure.