As a project manager, youve probably had to deal with clients at some point during the course of your project. Some are friendly, some not so friendly. Either way, you have to deal with them at some point. Here are some helpful tips to manage a client.
Change Your Attitude
Clients are often viewed as necessary evils in the project management process. This is completely the wrong view to take and might encourage negative behavior in the team such as cutting corners and over-billing. Instead, try to think of clients as part of your team, and let this attitude drive every meeting and communication you have with them. The difference will show.
Practice Active Listening
Active listening is a way of engaging with the client even as theyre the ones doing most of the talking. Stay responsive by saying things like I see, or alright as they speak to show them youre paying attention. Eye contact is important as well. And at the end of the conversation, repeat the gist of what they said so you can verify your understanding of the events. Something like, as I understand it, you want this...
Keep Your Clients Informed
Bad things happen when a client is left in the dark. They start imagining all sorts of scenarios where the project goes wrong, even though its moving along just fine. Or, they think that youre not doing anything at all, even if the reason for your silence is youre too busy to talk in the first place.
Dont wait until your client asks for a meeting to send a quick email or status update. Immediately report any issues in order to minimize the number of nasty surprises that the client may encounter.
Ask for Permission, Not Forgiveness
Some would suggest its the other way around, but permission is paramount when money is involved. You should always keep the client updated with the latest project information, and ask for their feedback on what work has already been done. If there are significant changes to be made to the project, make sure you keep the client at hand so that they can voice any concerns.
Remember Who Pays the Bills
At the end of the day, its the customers project, not yours. You and your team may have created it, but youre not the actual end-users. Remember this the next time you lose your temper at a meeting.