Post-Covid Travel

OMG –  I’m in a cab on the way to the airport!!! It’s been a year and a half since I last traveled for work. How surreal. 
My wife is so sad. We haven’t been apart the whole time. Suddenly two days seems like a lengthy separation. Kind of comical for someone who’s traveled for the past 20 years. Don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed working from home and will continue doing so as long as I can get away with it.
But as a consultant, our bread and butter is in relationships with our clients and that’s not so easy over WebEx. 
So, what’s the new idea for building client trust and partnership?  Hybrid to start, of course.  Get as much initial face time as you can so that faces and handshakes can be established.  Set up as many visual meetings as possible, keeping them short, so that a rhythm can be established.  Task lists will become the norm, learning to prioritize and reprioritize on a regular basis.  Learn your people as each individual will require unique treatment.  It will be better to over-communicate than to hold back for fear of being a pest.

Rolling Off!

You’ve worked with a client for an extended period of time. New friends have been discovered, new solutions have been learned, experience has been added, unique issues still exist or will continue. How do you leave the client knowing you’ve given your all, but there’s more you could still do?

For a really good consultant, this is a heart issue. On paper, we document, as best we can, the plan to pass on existing issues, train on the unfixable, and recommend on the improvable. This limits our legal liability, but not our emotional liability. We know what we did right and wrong much more than the client. This is the added little piece that we can leave behind in the form of knowledge transfer documents or business process suggestions.

Then we can walk out the door with our heads held high, knowing that a complaint or two may arise, but not from your lack of trying. Take the high ground by giving your all to each client, from your heart.

Face piles of trials with smiles!  It rials them to believe that you perceive the web they weave!  And keep on keeping on!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I came across an article this morning that said Americans take much less holiday than most of the world.  There were comparisons to other countries that amazed me with the difference.  There was even a statistic on how it wasn’t really the best idea for us all to work so much!

So for all of us who slave away in the USA:  Happy Thanksgiving.  I’m grateful for each and every day that we do get and I’m proud of the level of commitment many workers have to do a good job.  Let’s all learn to do things right first and fast second.

Eat too much!

Give just a little bit more
Take a little bit less

Wild Ride!

What a year it’s been!  Have you ever felt that you can do more if just given the chance?  Well that opportunity came my way and I jumped on it.  It has been exhilarating!  You never know what you are capable of until you try.  And I’ve learned that I’m capable of plenty, but I don’t always enjoy it all.

As consultants we carefully take care of our clients, giving them value that is always beyond their ability to comprehend.  They see the day to day activity.  They see the improvements that make things simpler, or the workarounds that provide more detail.  Our clients love that they can ask the tough questions and always get an opinion or an answer that is straight.

But what our clients don’t get is the toll that it takes on us when we provide the correct and honest answer that is then ignored in favor of some ‘better’ answer or process that will only hold them back in the future.  Sometimes ‘our way’ is not the right way even though that is always how you have always done your business.  Your niche in your industry is not so unique that ‘your way’ is the only way.

I have truly stepped out of my comfort zone this past year and have learned incredible things from some great people.  I have learned that the simple is not always that.  No matter how many times a question is asked and documented, expect a revision later on.  No matter what you know and whatever your expertise, keep learning and improving.  Stay humble and you can avoid a lot of frustration with your client.

Face piles of trials with smiles!

Expert – But Not Expert!

Expectations!  How often do we find ourselves at odds with our client’s expectations of our knowledge, or capabilities?  If you’ve been in the industry long enough to form your own practice, you are comfortable with your level of expertise and can offer some very valuable service and value to your clients.  But as is the case in most instances, the client will expect much more of you than the services you have agreed to perform.  After all, you are the expert, and expert has an all-inclusive nuance to it, that both opens doors and gets us into trouble at the same time.

I am a PeopleSoft consultant with a long accounting background, but my expertise is within a limited number of all the modules that are possibly involved in any particular implementation.  Do I know how PeopleSoft works?  Absolutely, in fact, in many cases, my experience will help me move into unfamiliar territory and figure out the software implications long in advance of client needs.  We all should be looking to be comfortable with our area of expertise to be able to answer questions on the fringe of our knowledge.

Clients don’t see us in quite the same light.  We are the guides who take them into uncharted territory.  Each client gives us virtually unlimited confidence that we will lead them to a better future.  Sure, we’ve been interviewed, expressed our limitations, reassured them of our qualifications, provided them with recommendations from our biggest successes, references from our closest colleagues, and given our confidence in handling the task at hand.  But once the work begins, even controlling scope along the way, our ‘expert’ status will lead each of us to the edges of our knowledge.

Consulting is a career that involves non-stop learning and the need to push ourselves to the edge regularly.  We must constantly be honest about our limitations and monitor the expectations of the client. Perception is key!