Monday, March 10, 2008

Working With or For

Are you working with or for your clients? It’s an important distinction.

Working for a client means that you’re following their instructions. Your relationship is confined to performance of specific tasks and projects. Even if you also provide advise and counsel to help your client make choices, the narrowness of your relationship will prevent you from really being a true partner or a mentor to their business.

Working with a client is vastly different. In addition to the work you do you’re invited to hear and know other parts of the clients business and can advise from a prospective equal to the client's.

When you work for a client your prospective of what is most important to him/her is limited. As far as you can tell from within the limited view, your current assignment is THE most important thing going on. When you work with a client your perspective can be inclusive of the bigger picture. You’ll actually know when to push hard to get things done or when to hold back because the client has a dozen more pressing things to worry about. When you work with your clients you can truly fulfill the role of counselor and advisor.

To find if you are working with or for a client create two columns on a sheet of paper. Mark one column “what I know about (client name)”, and mark the other, “what I don’t know about (client name)”. Then fill in the columns. Hopefully what you know is greater that what you do not. If the do not column is too long invite the client to lunch and start asking questions.

And, if your client would prefer you to remain in the dark and just do what is asked -- maybe you should consider finding a new client....