Developing Your Professional Services Capabilities

Professional services include a range of different occupations which provide support to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors. People working in professional services provide specialist advice to their clients, both internally and externally to their organization.

Professional services are critical to the success of the UK economy, representing 15% of UK GDP, 14% of employment and 14% of exports.”  Source:

http://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/government-public-sector/education/higher-apprenticeships/higher-apprenticeships-what-are-professional-services.html

In 2012, the U.S. professional services industry comprised about 760,000 firms with combined annual revenues of $1.5 trillion. The industry employed 7.8 million Americans.  Source:

http://selectusa.commerce.gov/industry-snapshots/professional-services-industry-united-states.html

Many individuals have embarked on enhancing and developing their technical abilities and competencies and have taken many courses focussed around gaining new insights and plugging technical gaps in their knowledge base.  All well and good but what about the other side of the scale?

  • The ability to work with productively with others
  • Understanding the business they work in and for
  • Managing their own productively and remain focused on outcomes
  • Becoming more commercially minded, without becoming a sales person
  • Identifying the needs of the customers, create win-wins and enhance mutual opportunities

These are some of the skills required to enhance individual capabilities, to increase their overall contribution to their organization.

I meet and have met many highly competent and technical individuals who are great when the emphasis is on their technical area of influence, but would struggle or find it difficult to operate and work with other stakeholders, contribute at team meetings, or simply operate effectively in front of customers.  These are important and necessary skills, often hidden and not as visible as the technical skills we often primarily focus on.

If I look at my own journey as a Professional, I spent my formative years focussing on my technical abilities (coding, project management, service delivery, stakeholder management etc.)  As my career progressed I moved into more roles that were primarily customer centric (both internally and externally) and had to develop a new range of skills that I learnt by reading books, trying new approaches, learning from mistakes.  I did my MBA in my 30s primarily to formalise my informal skill sets to increase and enhance my management and leadership abilities.

I am currently working on a new project where the PS Professional certification would have helped me in that journey, and believe it will help many individuals who want to enhance their overall skill set.

The certification focusses on five core areas, which when considered as a whole provides the overall offering a Professional can provide:

Athlete The foundations of being an Athlete are about being professional in how an individual present themselves and in what they do.  The key is the ability to plan and carefully prepare, combined with excellent time management skills.  There is a strong focus on both building and maintaining long-term influential relationships – both internally within the organization and externally with other stakeholders.

ExecutiveUnderstanding the nature of business is a key component to making a strong contribution.  There are a number of key components, which need to be understood and addressed which have an impact on the decisions a customer will make and on their direction as a business. For example, in addition to the important economic climate what are the social trends for that business? What are the effects of government and regulatory developments or what Innovations or technology trends will propel it? Do you understand the financial underpinnings of the organization?  Understanding the wider shaping factors is key and a real differentiator.

RainmakerA key goal is to make technical individuals more commercial and more sales oriented, even if they are not official sales people. The challenge with technical people is the need to be recognized as an expert, which leads to high level solutions, that a customer may not want need or are ready for.   This is at conflict with how you want to behave to develop effective outcomes with customers. The goal is to understanding what their business issues and drivers are and link them to something you can market and ultimately sell.

The secret to success is being really customer and sales oriented, with a true entrepreneurial spirit, a rainmaker (make rain where there isn’t any) who has earned the right to sell more.

AuthorityThe best professionals are experts in their particular field.  In essence, the Guru.

This is one of the most important aspects of developing and earning credibility, which can then be used to build trust.  People will judge an individual primarily on whether they know what they are talking about.  They will also be judged on how they demonstrate passion, a depth of knowledge, are able to tailor their message to the audience, have real credibility and are able to demonstrate it.

Catalyst The end game of any engagement is for the customer to get something implemented and eventually managed.  The biggest complaint customers have is that they were sold something that does not eventually work, or they had a very stressful time during the whole implementation process. The focus is to see things through the eyes of the customer and walk in their shoes. Understanding the operational environment, starting from the point of how something will operate, and reverse engineering the solution and associated activities to ensure that the customer experience is just as strong afterwards and during as it is at the beginning.

Creating the rounded Professional, one who has a strong technical background, balanced with the skills that this curricula provides, creates the professional of tomorrow.

 

 

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