The dilemma of providing what the client needs (and not what they ask for)

I am so fortunate to have been witness to, and been an active party to, some fantastic change programmes where organisations have taken some of my suggestions and used our tools for managing individuals and teams to be more effective within Leadership, Team working, Sales etc., and the results have been eye opening.

Luckily for us, the reputation for achieving such results often precedes us when we start work with a new client. SDI has been used for the last 30+ years as a valued tool to bring organisations the kind of awareness of how they manage relationships in their business that creates major change. So, quite often, when we are listening to a group’s needs and we propose a course of action -our proposals are accepted readily. Sometimes it is quicker than that “We think the SDI is great, I have seen it and we want it here…”

Now…down to the crunch…

A few times we will get the question… “Oh, and can you do it 3 hours?” (Pin drops)

That’s where my work begins (a bit) – “this is all the time that the senior team are allowed away from their role.” I’m using 3 hours as an example of the time limit we get – these 3 hours will also be typically squeezed into an action packed, physically and mentally exhausting two day offsite planning session for this senior team.

While my natural instinct would be to respond to the question with “I don’t mean to be rude but…” . My trainer instinct overrides with the thought that everyone has to start somewhere. While I know (from years of experience doing this work) that a half day will not: transform a dysfunctional, non-communicative, conflict ridden team into a cohesive unit that harnesses their strengths and is a shining example to the rest of the workforce in the way they motivate their direct reports and change the culture of the organisation. The client often disagrees.

Give them the pretty fireworks…

We’ve recognised that the challenge is that all of this giant change in daily communication has to start somewhere. If we balked at the “3 hour question” and did not deliver a few short ‘Firework display’ sessions – we wouldn’t give the client’s team the opportunity of getting to the juicy in-depth or modular work that we know will make a difference.

What do I mean by Firework Display? I mean the kind of quick, entertaining session that grips attention, but is over just as fast.

By delivering the short Firework Display we run the risk of the audience experiencing the session as interesting, fascinating even, but that’s all there is. In one fell swoop we create an entertaining image for ourselves as the provider of very ‘interesting’, also giving training an inconsistent quick-fix culture and letting the client down in the long term.

Do we deliver what the client wants in the time they allocate for it?

Do we live with the get out clause of “We know you haven’t really got enough time but, if we did it in 3 hours, you wouldn’t get what your team desperately needs from what you have shared with us.”

OR: Do we run the risk of delivering a one-off half day never to be repeated or possibly never to get the opportunity to share the full potential we hold in our facilitating repertoire?

My passion is to get the job done that we have been called upon to help with. My ambition is to walk away from each of our clients instilling a lasting change that will fundamentally alter how that client’s organisation is managed and run. Happy, productive individuals and functional teams are what make the proverbial cogs work well.

So, I guess I would have to say that it’s my first job to spend the time researching the opportunity cost for the client in forcing a tight 3 hour firework display or taking a leap of faith and taking the proper amount of time to create a lasting impression and change – reaffirming the investment of money and time.

How do you manage providing your service in the way that you know will properly “deliver” against what your client asks for?

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