Aug 26th, 2020
Part 1: Caring
Written by: Kirk Hoaglund, Chief Executive Officer
Just a few years ago one of our long-standing clients offered a compliment that has since become a point of great pride and something we work very hard to live up to. “What I like about Clientek is that you have people as clients, not companies.”
With all the ways we measure customer satisfaction and business success, this one might be the most important. Since hearing this, I’ve spent some time thinking about what it means and how we do it - so that we can continue to earn that praise. Over the next few postings, I will share some key points.
The first “caring”.
As simple as this short word seems, there is a great deal of complexity hiding behind it. Let’s take a look at the components in the context of a successful business relationship.
The best teams care about the success of each team member. Teamwork is not a zero-sum game. No team member need sacrifice their own success when they help ensure the success of another. While this group necessarily shares a few common goals – specific to the project and to their organization – “caring” respects the individual goals that each member works towards. This takes time and it takes attention to one another. What drives those other people working with you? What do you personally value about them? What do they value about themselves? Answering these questions will get you closer to genuinely caring about the success of individuals striving alongside you each day.
The most successful projects work toward a clear definition of success. The definition of success is not “we executed our tasks in time to meet our deadline” - this is known as “activity over progress”. A clear definition of success describes the ways that the project’s outcome will benefit the stakeholders. When a team understands how important their work is and what they can achieve, they will care about that outcome.
Stakeholders are people, too. Most of the stakeholders have jobs within the organization, the company, your client. They have a boss, they have plenty to do, and they are constantly thinking, at the same time, about their personal goals. They share broader, organizational goals and work toward them, but they also have those personal goals. They have reasons to love certain projects and reasons for excitement about certain outcomes. Do you know enough about your stakeholders to listen for those key drivers? Do you care that your stakeholders are able to achieve both project goals and personal goals?
Clients are people, not companies. Let’s be honest, for your $20B client that has offices in 52 countries offering a wide range of products and services, can you “care” about their stock price, earnings, and latest 10-K? In a broad way, sure. You want the company to succeed and you want to contribute to that success. But your work is likely one, small contributor to the company’s success. Far more important are the people that you are serving through your work. When you know enough about your client – the people – to care about their success, all the rest will fall into place.
Paying attention to these ideas has become something we do at Clientek. And, when you think of your organization as a team, just start applying these ideas, starting with number one, to your own company. Perhaps, then, a corollary: “What I like about Clientek is that it is more than just a company, it is people.”