Before I created and sold information products, I delivered consulting services for many years. Most projects required strategic planning; some entailed creating systems and business process; and others involved marketing.
While the projects varied in scope, they had one thing in common: The business owner always thought his or her employees were the problem. I was brought in to train the team, and if necessary, replace one or more team members.
Yet, I often found the staff’s problems were a simple reflection of the boss. Every time I’ve come across an entrepreneur with a “dysfunctional” team of employees, I’ve found it is the entrepreneur who is dysfunctional. The team is just trying to hang on.
I’ve promoted staff training programs for many industries over the years, and I have a product for the info-marketing industry called Relief for Frustrated Info-Marketing Staff. I especially like programs that are designed for the business owner to hand over to a staff person to implement. For example, Ron Wilkinson of RestaurantMarketingGroup.org sells a marketing system to restaurant owners that is designed for a hostess or a server to implement. This system is brilliant because the restaurant owner can buy the promise of the new customers he or she wants without having to do any work.
Yet, if the business owner is dysfunctional, even a program like Ron’s is doomed. When the hostess comes to the owner and explains how the product teaches that every server needs to start collecting names and addresses from customers, the dysfunctional business owner will never provide the servers the necessary training and incentives to make that happen. Dysfunctional bosses always sabotage themselves.
This presents a challenge for you and me. We have a customer who wants to solve a problem in his or her business. But our customer is the one causing the problems and the largest obstacle to implementing solutions.
This is a challenge for two reasons. First, no one wants to admit he or she is the reason the business isn’t working. Second, even when someone does admit it, it’s extremely hard to change old habits.
When I encounter this challenge in a coaching environment, my first impulse is to try to get the client to replace all of his or her habits with new ones. New work schedule, new project priorities, new systems and ways to work with employees. After all, that’s the fastest way to generate the results the client wants. Usually that prescription ends badly, often with the coaching client hating me and thinking I’m a villainous taskmaster.
You can’t fix a client’s actions until you fix what’s going on inside his or her head. If you prescribe all the right actions, your customer’s brain will resist leaving the old habits behind. The coaching client will experience frustration and take it out on you.
I have found the best way to deal with clients is to give them a small task that allows them some early success. Then, build on that success as you go. I resist all impulses to move them along at my speed. Instead, I give them small changes that can improve their lives without asking them to change all of their habits at one time.
While people want all of the benefits change can bring, they hate the changes themselves. They resist change at all cost. So, even though the customer came to you for those benefits, you have to resist the temptation of thrusting too much change on him or her at one time.
You may embrace change and want the fast results that come from rapid implementation; however, most of your customers will be quite different. Show them the path to achieving the results they want, but be patient if they choose to proceed slowly.
How do you work with your customers to encourage them to embrace the changes they need to make to achieve the results they desire? Or do you have a different approach entirely? Scroll down to the bottom of the page to leave me a comment. I read every comment and reply when appropriate.