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  • Writer's pictureLianne

3 Powerful Lessons My Clients Taught Me in 2018



It is hard to believe this year is almost over. At this time of year, in addition to indulging in good food and cheer and spending time with family and friends, I also like to reflect on the year and plan for the next one. With year 2 as a Human Capital & Learning Consultant now under my belt, I learned that once again by stepping out of my comfort zone, incredible opportunities opened up to partner with small- and mid-sized companies from a variety of business sectors. While, teaching them how to improve their businesses, personal and professional lives; helping them become better “bankable” leaders, developing and motivating their teams, and enhancing their strategy and culture, I was amazed at what came back to me. I benefited from learning as I taught and want to remind myself and share with you the top three most powerful lessons my clients taught me in 2018.


1. “The high road to service is travelled with integrity, compassion and understanding…people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”


It’s common for independent professionals to focus on gaining new business. However, new projects don’t always have to mean new clients. Building strong relationships with existing clients can set you up for repeat business. And even if clients don’t return to you, they may recommend you to others. So here are a few ways I have been working to build lasting partnerships with my clients:


Making exceptional communication a priority and being available and responsive demonstrates to clients that their needs and satisfaction are important to me. In addition to timely and thorough communication, it is also important to make clients feel comfortable being open and honest with me to know that their ideas and concerns will be taken seriously.


Exceeding expectations and developing a reputation for delivering exceptional results is one of the best ways to help build a strong relationship with clients. The key I have found is to identify the opportunity to go above and beyond in a manner that your clients will appreciate. It could be as simple as delivering presentations or materials in a simple but effective format or hand-delivering the materials with speaking notes and giving an in-depth walkthrough or providing a token of appreciation and thanks after key deliverables have been achieved. These customized client support approaches, can be an unexpected benefit that strengthens the relationship.


Being Open. In order to build a strong and lasting relationship with clients, they must be able to trust and rely on me as an expert. It may seem easier to want to appear agreeable by telling a client what you think they want to hear or holding back on your true views and opinions – however this approach can be counterproductive to building lasting relationships and may be damaging to your reputation. By confidently expressing my honest opinions, clients respect my expertise, initiative and desire to execute with excellence.


Having a positive attitude and showing a positive face even as stressed out or overwhelmed as I may feel inside and displaying enthusiasm and assurance are characteristics people enjoy being around and clients appreciate working with. Making my client feel confident that I have the capacity to take on their burdens so they can focus on their priorities has brought rewards and further assignments.


2. “Extraordinary service is the result of anticipating the need and providing the solution before the client requires it.”


Clients often seek consulting support to solve difficult problems. For example, how to restructure the organization to be able to adapt more readily to change; which workplace practices or policies to adopt; or what the most practical solution is for a problem in morale, efficiency, internal communication, control, leadership or succession.


Seeking solutions to problems of this sort makes sense, however as a consultant we have a professional responsibility to ask whether the problem the client has identified is what most needs solving. Oftentimes, the client needs help most in defining the real issue. As such, wherever possible, I try to structure a proposal that focuses on the client’s stated concern at one level while exploring related factors. "To do so, I might probe or ask: Which solutions have been attempted in the past, with what results? What untried steps toward a solution does the client have in mind? Which related aspects of the client’s business are not going well? If the problem is “solved,” how will the solution be applied?"


A process that has worked well for me has been to work with the problem defined by the client in such a way that more useful definitions emerge naturally as the engagement proceeds. Since most clients—like people in general—are ambivalent about their need for help with their most important problems, the consultant must skillfully respond to the client’s implicit needs.


3.”In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”


As a consultant, my number one goal is always to leave an organization in a better place and with something of lasting value. This means not only enhancing clients’ ability to deal with immediate issues but also helping them learn techniques and methods needed to cope with future challenges.


The best way I know how to do this is to facilitate learning: taking an interactive, blended learning approach by including team members at every step of the way. For example, demonstrating or role modelling an appropriate technique or providing quick reference materials in combination of experiential hands-on guided experience over time.


With strong client involvement throughout the entire engagement, there will be many opportunities to help identify learning needs, make suggestions or help design opportunities for learning about work-practices, planning methods, goal-setting processes, and so on. 


Learning during the engagement is a two-way street. At every interaction, a consultant should learn how to be more effective in designing and leading engagements. Moreover, from my experience, the consultant’s willingness to learn can be contagious. In the best client-consultant partnerships, each partner explores the experience with the other in order to learn more from it.


As we head into another new year, I’ll leave you with this. “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” I feel so strongly about this message, in fact, that I’ll be spending most of next year eagerly engaged in helping clients accomplish this and would welcome the opportunity to partner with you and your organization in realizing the same. Let’s chat.


Here’s to a successful 2019 for one and all!


Lianne Leduc Consulting - Human Capital & Learning - A boutique global consulting partner, strategist, and implementer that helps companies build the right human capital strategy to accelerate business results and Attract, Motivate and Retain "Best in Class” Talent to win in today’s competitive talent marketplace.

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