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#499: Make Sure Your Client is Ready for You

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 10, 2011
I recently started an engagement where the client was fully behind the project. Yet, when our team started on the project, the staff didn't know about it and, once they did, were less than enthusiastic about it. Is this the client's responsibility to prepare the staff for the engagement?

Sure, the client is responsible for communicating with his or her staff and managing their activities. However, in situations where management consultants are asked to improve operations, it is often these very communication and management activities that are in need of improvement. Thus, this becomes part of your engagement responsibility, per the agreement with your client.

If the client hasn't done so, what should you do about connecting with staff? Your effectiveness is tied to the cooperation, or at least understanding, of the staff. Work with the client to develop a communication plan aimed specifically at staff. Describe the objectives of the engagement, how the process will work, and the roles of both your team and client staff. Help the client deliver these messages and provide a mechanism for staff to ask questions and get answers throughout the engagement. A bad start usually leads to a bad finish, so make sure your client (and your project) get off to an effective start.

Tip: Use this opportunity to increase value by improving client communication management and processes. Spend the extra time (if you can make a compelling recommendation to add this to your engagement, all the better) to help your client improve their personal communication planning, skills and the acceptance and cooperation of staff for your engagement. Everybody can benefit.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  engagement management 

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