Motivate Your Client: 5 Questions You must Answer
Consultants generally act as change agents. We propose new and better solutions to client problems, and then we take steps to initiate or implement the new solution. Inevitably, this change comes with hesitation and resistance. As a consultant and outside party, how can we create a motivating and accepting culture at the client?
Simply stated, employees thrive in a culture where they are actively engaged in reaching clear and quantifiable goals. They should know exactly how their specific tasks add value to the company. They should be able to quantify their performance, and clearly see improvement or lapses in performance. For this situation to exist, open lines of communication are critical.
There are 5 essential questions that you must answer for employees in order to create and sustain a motivating culture at the client. Your answers need to be clear and concise so that they are easily digestible by employees. Investing your time in open communication will more than repay itself through lost time attempting to manage unwelcoming employees.
So, the essential questions:
1. Where are we going?
To understand why this question is so important, try this: grab your coat and tell your kids, “Get in the car, it’s time to go.” Then don’t tell them your destination. What you’re likely to get is stubborn resistance, starting with, “Where are we going?” Now tell your children, “Get in the car, we’re going to Disneyland.” They’ll be in the car with seatbelts on before you can get out the door!
It probably doesn’t make sense to tell employees you’re taking them to Disneyland --unless you plan to use it as an incentive for achieving a major strategic goal. But if you want to get their best effort, tell people on a regular basis where your project is headed and what it will take to get there.
2. What will it look like when we get there?
To create a compelling visual in the minds of employees, describe what different aspects of the business will look like once you reach your destination. For example:
• What key operating targets will you have achieved?
• What will the workplace culture (attitudes, beliefs, values, operating principles, etc.) be like?
• What skills, knowledge and abilities will exist in the company?
• What organizational structures will be in place?
• What tools, systems and technologies and work processes will you use?
• What products will you have in the market?
• Who will your customers be?
• Who will you compete against?
• What will your brand stand for?
The more clarity you can provide around your destination, the more likely you are to get there.
3. What difference are we making?
In addition to bringing home a paycheck, most people want to feel like they’re making a difference in the world. Don’t wait for employees to figure it out on their own; tell them on a regular basis! Let them know how the company makes a difference with customers, your community, and the world at large. Remind them of the problems you are solving for customers or how you are making their lives easier.
And don’t just tell, show people how they’re making a difference by sharing customer feedback. Create a video of customer interviews. Invite a customer to present at a company meeting. Present samples of written testimonials. Make it real by sharing stories and information about the individuals affected.
4. Why is it important for you to get there?
Professional athletes wouldn’t play for a coach who doesn’t care about winning. People in your business feel the same way. They expect you to explain why it’s important for the organization to reach the destination.
From time to time, share the facts behind what makes your project destination so compelling. You have researched and developed the best practice to implement, so (with a clear structure) relay this information on to employees. Share the quantifiable benefit and what it will mean for them – especially if they are nervous about losing or significantly changing their job.
5. Why should we help you get there?<+b>
Most people want to do a good job. They also want to know how they will benefit by helping the company. Because, as a consultant, you are not able to offer monetary incentives – look for intangible incentives. Examples include learning a new skill or new software, or gaining a leadership position through helping execute implementation.
Great consultants find solutions through asking the right questions. But sometimes you have to answer them, too. Answer these questions for your client’s employees in a meaningful way and you’ll have a dedicated workforce supporting your project.