The Key to Success that You may be Overlooking
In consulting, what ultimately determines success? Increased profitability, satisfied clients, or met objectives? Not exactly. These criteria are very important, but not always sufficient. Many times, it is the client’s employees who hold the key to your success.
Working with the client’s employees guarantees you have correctly identified and understood the project, implemented the best solution, and received support and follow-through. The process of incorporating the client’s employees has many benefits, but can also come with a lot of drawbacks. Managing the right balance between leadership, communication, and instruction can make the partnership an incredible advantage for you. Here are the reasons why you should consider inviting the client’s employees to contribute, and how to make the partnership work:
- Understand the Company
Working with employees helps you better understand the company. As consultants know well, many clients have trouble voicing exactly what is the problem and what solution they are looking for. And many times, they don’t know exactly what is the problem. By getting to know the employees and the roots of the company, you are much more likely to find problems that you wouldn’t see from working off-site. This enables you to provide much better answers.
2. Build Relationships
Building relationships gives can give you valuable insights to the company. Once you build trust and good rapport, the employees will be much more willing to share information with you. Many times when a new consultant is introduced, the atmosphere is hostile. Make it a point to create a pleasant atmosphere by getting to know the employees personally. We aren’t all good with names, but it is important to learn them all quickly anyway. “Good morning, Joe” means a lot more than just a simple “Hello”.
3. Ensure Successful Implementation
Once employees feel that they are a valued part of the project, they will work harder to maintain the success of your project after you have left. If you enjoy repeat clients (as most of us do) then you know how essential is project follow-through. If you are still considered an “outsider” once you pack-up and leave, employees don’t have any interest or stake in whether or not your project succeeds. By inviting them into the process, you are giving them the know-how and the motivation to make your work successful.
There are some clear dos and don’ts that come with including the client’s employees. First, let’s start with the dos:
• Request to work with employees with certain skills. One skill that every consultant should look for is communication. Working with people who can clearly dictate issues, potential roadblocks, frustrations, and even compliments will be a huge advantage for you.
• Make the employees important. Assign them tasks that interest them so they are motivated, and acknowledge their expertise and accomplishments.
• Keep information flowing as freely as possible. If you are not onsite with the employees, be sure to communicate with them regularly. You could do this through using a system like Google Docs or study done by John Molson School of Business, three of the most important success factors for an ideal client-consultant relationship include clear and well-communicated expectations and outcomes, visible executive support, and a real partnership. Getting into the company by working with the employees will help you to achieve these objectives and keep happy, satisfied clients.