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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #54: March, 2008

Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of the Society for Advancement of Consulting, LLC

Subordinates complain to the buyer about you

Cause: They are threatened by your approaches and suggestions. Resolution: Try to maximize their buy-in as you go along, but understand that change will always discomfit some people.

Cause: They misinterpret or mistrust the project objectives. Resolution: Have the buyer formally announce-in person and in writing-the goals and the expected outcomes.

Cause: You make a gaffe, violating culture or local operating procedures. Resolution: Publicly apologize, explain your intent was food but implementation wrong, and get back on track.

Cause: The HR person or other likely culprit is trying to derail a project which will make them look bad because they didn't do it first. Resolution: Explain to the buyer that this is par for the course, and first people who complain in such as way are those least likely to be useful after the completion of the work.

Cause: The buyer is over-soliciting feedback, and people are telling the buyer what the perceive the buyer wants to hear. Resolution: Tell the buyer that he or she is creating self-fulfilling prophecies, and that the captain doesn't solicit advice from the crew about a course change.

The preventive actions, of course, are establishing clarity with the buyer at the outset about what to expect (complaints) and how to deal with them (personally with you) and the need to be patient before talking to people about reactions. There is a world of difference in buyer reactions to a sudden complaint vs. the exact same complaint that you predicted would probably occur!

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