This Ain't No Walk On The Beach
I just returned from an overnight trip to Huntington Beach, CA to make a presentation to my client regarding their AS IS current state analysis. For those of you not familiar with process improvement projects, this is the part where the consultant tells the client all the things that are wrong with their department or team or organization. Generally, these are painful messages to deliver, and they can set a client on edge if not delivered with the right balance of honesty and tact.
At the end of the presentation, the client applauded. They had invited me to stay for a lunch with their broader team, and when I left for the airport, I even garnered a few hugs. What?!?! Applause and hugs for telling my clients what they're doing wrong? No, I didn't slip anything into the water pitchers when they weren't looking.
This really isn't a trick, tip, or technique as much as it is just a fundamental truth. If you've invested the time getting to know PEOPLE, building a level of TRUST with them, and showing them the RESPECT they deserve and that they've earned - regardless of their title or level in the organization - you can deliver tough messages to clients and still maintain a positive relationship. I'm grateful to be working with a dynamic and motivated staff to help alleviate some process-related pain in their department. Applause and hugs aside, their improved work environment will be all the internal reward I'll need to know I did my job.
The sunset walk on the beach didn't hurt either.