We’d all like to be right 100% of the time and yet we know that happens about as often as it snows in Hawaii.
So what should you do when your client is wrong? How do you break the news to them?
Realize that most leaders aren’t surrounded by staff that ‘tell it like it is’. Instead they are often afraid to break any bad news with senior management.
Focus on the positive, not on the negative. Look at the challenge as an opportunity to fix and improve.
In an organization this often results in the leader believing things are okay when they really aren’t. This makes spotting the real problem even harder when the information the leader is receiving isn’t the whole truth.
If no problems exist and the business is humming along smoothly they wouldn’t need a consultant, would they?
You step in and have to break the bad news that things aren’t as rosy as the client believes…
Here are 3 ideas to consider:
1. Establish how you work – at your first meeting tell the client that you’re going to be very honest with them. That much of what you uncover will be positive, however, if they’re company is like others you’ve worked with before, you’ll also find room for improvement.
Because the client will now be expecting you to share both the good and the bad, it’s easier for you to share it with them when you find it – and they’ll be ready for it.
2. Believe what you see – Have you ever seen the program Undercover Boss? CEO’s from various companies dress themselves up and go ‘undercover’ to work in their own organization. Their employees don’t recognize them and they get to see up close and with their own eyes where things are going well and where things can be improved.
Consider taking the same approach in your own work. You’ll hear all kinds of things from employees, management and the CEO. Don’t draw conclusions from that information. Dig deeper so that you can see and experience it yourself. Then share that experience and encourage your client to experience it themselves. It’s hard to disagree when you’ve faced an issue first-hand.
3. Tell them clearly – I recently had a discussion with one of my coaching clients. Based in South America this consulting firm owner had a weight on his shoulders. The challenges with his employees and the market kept coming up and what he had or hadn’t done right in the past. I told him not to worry about the past anymore, look at this as an opportunity to focus on the future and get things right going forward.
You can do the same thing with your clients. Focus on the positive, not on the negative. Look at the challenge as an opportunity to fix and improve. The last thing you want is to spend time playing the blame game and talking about ‘what if…’. What’s done is done, help your client to see what’s ahead and take the steps to capitalize on it.
Is this information helpful? Let me know in the comments below. What approach have you found effective to tell your clients they’re wrong?