I have witnessed countless days where colleagues have been bursting at the seams with frustration when trying to meet ever-changing client demands.
Briefs change, job load doubles, extra modifications are needed and then there’s the circulation of documents around a committee of 500 before sign off can occur. Best of all, the agreed time frames have been halved!
One problem. They are not your only client.
After dipping my toes in various industries, it is surprisingly refreshing to see that these situations occur in almost every workplace. Variations may be different, and product or service may vary, but the ageless question always emerges. How do you handle demanding clients?
The list is endless, but here are a few tips I have learnt on the way. By all means, add and expand at your leisure:
Show honesty: Your client will have more respect and empathy for you if you are honest about their expectations from the very beginning. Do not make promises you cannot keep – these will come back to haunt you at a later stage.
Get that brief in writing: Yes it will change from day 1, to day 100 but get that brief on paper. Every modification they want or need, record it all. You can then refer to it if they question the end result.
Schedule everything: Assign time schedules for each job and set up weekly catch up meetings either via a conference call or email. Choose a channel that is realistic and practical for both parties.
Stretch yourself but do not be ridiculous: There is only so much one can do, so be realistic about your work load and what jobs you can do in expected time frames. Delegate if you need too but have that back up option to hand. The worst thing you can do is make yourself ill by over stretching yourself.
Be polite: Oh yes, we all have a few words to say but be polite with your clients! You can still be assertive but you do not have to be rude. Remember, your clients pay your wages. Rudeness can be costly!
Breaks: This may seem completely unrealistic, but give yourself small breaks between jobs, if not for you then for your client’s sake! If you have clocked up 10 hours at a desk but the results are disastrous, what good is that to anyone? Not only do you need that break to clear your head and stop yourself from going googly-eyed but it will give you a better perspective of what needs to be done, what can be prioritized and how you can rectify a potential disaster.
Find praise: There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are not accomplishing anything but are working endlessly. Seek feedback from your seniors, spouses, colleagues – anyone who can provide that boost. Even positive criticism can serve its purpose as it can give you that needed initiative to boost your work performance, which can effectively, lead to an altered mind-set when handling your growing workloads.
Remember why you are there: Most of all in every demanding situation, remember why you took this role in the first place. Find that spark you had when you set up that company in the first place; why you filled out a ten page application form by pen over an online ‘one-click’ application and why you decided working behind a desk was your ideal position. If you cannot find that spark, then the answer is simple – change roles!
Your clients may be demanding, but you hold the reins. Just remember to hold on tightly!