Consulting engagements require accountability on your end and on your client's end. When someone is not holding up their end of the deal, it slows everything down. In this video, learn how to communicate roadblocks and challenges with your buyer without looking like a tattletale.
- Consulting can be kind of weird, because you, the consultant, don't really have a place in the org chart, and you also don't really have the authority and that combination can make navigating continual communication roadblocks awkward. Let's face it, we've all written those emails, just following up per my last email, touching base, but all they do is create a never-ending loop of frustration in both inboxes. You don't wanna be the nag and the other person doesn't want to be nagged.
Well, the first step to breaking the cycle is to be preventative. If you expect someone to accomplish something by a certain date, make sure that's clear on the front end. Lack of clear expectations are the route of performance and communication problems. Agreeing in advance about what is to be done and when keeps you from being that just following up bad guy. If you're still not getting a response, pick up the phone, I know, a Millennial suggesting actually speaking into a phone, what's going on? Stereotypical or not, I fought this one, but the phone gives you an opportunity to be friendly and forge a closer relationship with the person who might be avoiding you.
Now if people really are avoiding you by not returning your calls, or not responding to your emails, then it can be appropriate to talk to your buyer about it. When you have this conversation, be careful to not position yourself as the tattletale. Sharon won't return my calls, can you go yell at her? That's not ideal. Instead, position as just a small hiccup. I've had trouble getting in touch with Sharon about the reports. Then, assume it's not personal, and maybe, not even intentional.
My initial go-to here is, I know have an external email address, so I'm worried I might be going to her spam. Or, I'm skeptical of unknown phone numbers too. Or even just, she might be really overwhelmed. Then, suggest an action. Can you handle that? Sounds like just another needy voice in the ear of your buyer. Instead try, it would be helpful if you could send an email re-introducing us and affirming your commitment to the project. Or, is there someone else who I should be talking to about this? And then, be sure to end this positively.
Reinforce some project wins and comment on how excited you are to be making progress. And if this communication problem continues, keep the receipts. Email chains, call logs, original agreements, these will all help if it does descend into he said, she said. Often times, small communication roadblocks are magnified. Someone misses an email because they read it on their phone or their kid got sick and they had to leave the office unexpectedly. Whatever it is, it happens to all of us.
Handle it quickly, professionally, and with positive intent.
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