August 13, 2007

The Trusted Advisor

Got a chance to read - the Trusted advisor by David H. Maister et team. Attended Mandel's instructor led course on the same theme, but this book really covers the complexity of being a TA.

Following from Bill Gates: It's important to have someone who you totally trust, who is totally committed, who shares your vision, and yet who has a little bit different set of skills and who also acts as something of a check on you. Some of the ideas you run by him, you know he's going to say 'hey, wait a minute, have you thought about this and that'. The benefit of sparking off somebody who's got that kind of brilliance is that it not only makes business more fun, but it really leads to a lot of success.

The golden rule of TA is 'we should treat others as we wish to be treated'.

There are three basic skills to be a TA - earning trust, giving advice effectively and building relationship.

Some of traits that TA should have are:

1. Seems to understand us, effortlessly and like us
2. Are consistent
3. Always help us see things from fresh prospectives
4. Don't try to force things on us
5. Help us think and separate our logic from our emotions
6. Openness and reliable
7. Active listener
8. Ask hard Q
9. Understanding
10. Respect
11. Responsiveness
12. Access and availability
13. Sense of control

Earning Trust:

The key point is that trust must be earned and deserved. TA should have empathy towards customer and should share the pain points of the customer.

Trust grows and it does rarely develop instantly. Trust is both rational and emotional and it is a two-way relationship.

Giving advice:

This is like a teacher training his students; he should make them understand all aspects of the topic and query them hard questions to know, how much they understood and at the same time, it helps them to come out their silos.

This is termed as Socratic teaching and it is mostly accomplished through questions such as

1. Why do you think we have this issue
2. What options do we have doing things differently
3. What advantages do you foresee for the different options
4. What benefits might come if we tried the following approach

A good process for a TA to follow

1. Give them their options
2. Educate them on these options
3. Give them recommendations
4. Let them choose.

Building relationship:

following are the key principles

Go or do first
Show them without telling them
Listen for what's different, not for what is familiar
Be sure your advice is being sought.
Earn the right to offer advice
Keep asking
Say what do you mean
Show interest in the person/customer
Use compliments
Show appreciations


Apart from those above three skills, TA should have the attitude/mindset for the following

Ability to focus on the other person
Ego strength
Inclusive professionalism

Trust Equation:

T=trustworthiness, C=credibility, R=reliability, I=intimacy, S=Self-orientation

Credibility - Words (eg. I can trust what he says..)
Reliability - Actions (eg. I can trust him to..)
Intimacy - Emotions (eg. I feel confortable discussing this ...)
Self-orientation - Motives (eg. I can trust thet he cares about ...)

Development of trust:

There are 5 steps in the development of a TA

1. Engage
2. Listen actively
3. Frame
4. Envision
5. Commit

This book provides ample illustration and examples of some of the hard questions which works in many situations.

It is important both in your personal and professional life to be a Trusted Advisor which add value in your relationships. This book is a good reference to reach that goal.

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