Have you ever wondered why things are the way they are? As a child, I use to always get myself brushed off into a corner somewhere by my teachers, because I always questioned everything. I think I drove my teachers crazy, but my mother always encouraged my questions. She knew that one day, asking questions, would empower me to change the status quo of my world.
These are areas that will matter when challenging the mundane processes of your clients work:
- I can’t emphasize this enough! Be respectful, I can’t emphasize this enough! What may seem like a “no brainer” to you or I, may not seem so obvious to the client. Try not to come across as if you are THE problem solver; hence the client should be indebted to you. Actually, it is the other way around. Without your clients, you would never have the opportunity to make improvements. Confidence is important, however, humility is respected as a unique and silent sign of strength.
- It takes time to work in sync. Sometimes how you interpret directions, may be completely different from the intention of the client. The more you work together, and communicate: likes, dislikes, thoughts, questions, and concerns, the more you will be a cohesive team, bringing about a productive workflow.
- It’s okay if a client doesn’t recognize your suggestions right away. Sometimes it takes “buy in” and persuasion to get a good idea across. A good idea could get lost in not-so-good communication. Systematically list the pro’s of each point you present, and substantiate how the client will benefit from the change.
- Ask if you can pilot the change to determine if there is genuine success behind it. When you do this commit to your client that you will not charge them for hiccups during the process. The client may not go for the idea right away. However, later on down the road, once you have proven a method of success, the client will appreciate the time they saved, which also translates into potential revenue. How? Because you can now use that opportunity to tackle another project for them, that will, in the end, free the clients to secure more business, which will earn the customer more money.
- Remember that the client had a reason for following the process that they established, in the first place. Listen carefully for the reasons behind the techniques Focus on the positive aspects of the process in place, then focus on the positive features of the change. In other words, make it a positive experience.
- Map out the process flow. Highlighting crucial and positive steps, while marking areas of opportunity to streamline the course of action. Sometimes a visual of the process can help the client see where steps can be simplified or where a process disconnect could be fixed.
My mother use to have a favorite expression, she would say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.” It’s true, in its own funny way. I remember challenging a retention order system, it was what one of my former bosses coined a sacred cow. He thought I was crazy taking on a corporate-wide system. I asked very practical and simple questions, each starting with “why?” As each answer came back, I was able to state the redundancies in the process, the immaterial value behind other steps, and eventually, saved the department I worked in close to $150K annually. I may not have won the “Employee of the Year” award, but the business I worked for won; since other departments adopted the procedure as well.
I want to encourage you this year, don’t be afraid to ask, “Why are things the way they are?” You just might have a better solution. That adds value to your client.