When an engagement is over, I do a "post-mortem" on my work, but I have a hard time getting the client to provide much feedback. How can I get honest and useful feedback?
This is a great question. Clients engage us to diagnose and provide improvement advice. Yet, there is no reason why we shouldn't hold ourselves to the same standard. The effectiveness of our services should be evaluated at the same time we evaluate the performance of the project as a whole. This kind of feedback (more than "nice job") is what helps us to become better consultants.
As part of any engagement, one of the last activities a consultant does is to conduct a formal engagement evaluation. Here we address whether the project design was adequate to the needs of the client, whether the client developed the necessary technologies and capabilities from the engagement, and how well the client's situation is likely to sustain itself after we leave. All of this is common practice by a good consultant, but it leaves out one thing - an evaluation specifically of the consultant.Tip:
Make sure the client understands at the outset of the engagement that you hold yourself and your consulting processes to the same standards he or she does. Build in to the project evaluation an explicit step to examine determine your process was effective, whether your behavior was professional, whether your interpersonal skills were appropriate. Lay out a formal process with clear measures of what you consider success. There is no better way to show your professionalism and to get the kind of feedback that will raise your game.© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA