Happy Client, Happy Life

Clients are the bread and butter of your business.  They are the ones you want to please by providing them with excellent service.  This is what they expect and, frankly, what they deserve.  This makes sense, right?  The client hires you to provide the best service, and your job is to leave them so impressed by the results they think of no one else for future needs.  Therefore, you must remember that the client is essentially your boss, and they can always find someone else to provide them with this service.  No one is irreplaceable, including you, but with a few key principles you can elevate yourself to a point of being the preferred provider of the service.

Know What They Need Before They Do

Before most people go in for an interview, they research their potential employer.  Then they bring ideas to the interview which will better their chances of success.  This shows interest in working for this employer and also shows the value this person would bring.  This same concept can be used in business.  In an effort to always provide the best service and keep your client happy, work on anticipating their needs and always be one step ahead.  Research the company, discover what they have done in the past, and look beyond the here and now to see how you can have an impact on the future.  Even if your client doesn’t acknowledge your efforts, they will not go unnoticed.  This is one of the best ways to land and maintain your clients.

Communication: A Two-Way Street

As always, communication is of the utmost importance.  Be sure to keep your client informed about the progress you are making, or any setbacks you are experiencing.  Do this through regular meetings, phone calls, and emails.  Once you give them a status update, listen to their needs and concerns.  That’s right, I said, “Listen.”  The more you let them know you are there for them, the better they will feel about you.  This in turn will keep them from looking for your replacement.

Keep it Old School

Yes, I know the world runs on a keyboard, but keep a notebook and pen on you at all times.  Use it to take detailed notes at every meeting.  At the end of the day, go over your notes and make a plan of action for the next day.  In addition to taking task-related notes, keep a list of any personal information that you can gather, e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, etc., and enter it into your calendar.  There is no better way to impress your client, then recognizing them personally.

Remember that all clients are unique and should be treated that way.  Every client will have their own set of needs and will prioritize them differently, so take the time to get to know each and every one of your clients.  Listen to them all with the same amount of attention and provide them all with the same amount of detail.  Make every client feel like they are your only one and watch how your business grows.


Go Manage Yourself!!!

An old adage says that before you take care of anyone else, you have to take care of yourself.  Ask any mom how she handles kids, a home, and an exhausted husband at the end of a long day.  You’ll hear everything from a bath, a good book, a cup of coffee, or a long massage.  All of these things are FOR HER and gets her ready for the next round.

Be Available

It’s no different in business.  To be an effective leader, you need to take care of yourself personally, but also professionally, before focusing on your team.  Manage yourself, check your attitude, and be ready.  One way to increase your chance of success is to make sure you are accessible to your team.  A surefire way to do this is to keep an open-door policy.  This tells your team you are there for them.  Be open to hearing their feedback, even when they disagree with you.  You should never be afraid to admit you made a mistake, and you are open to other suggestions.  Your will earn the respect of your team this way and they will take more pride in their work.  There is always room for improvement in your performance, as well as your team’s.

Knowledge is Power

The more knowledge you can pass on to your team, the more powerful they will be.  Keep striving to master your skills, demonstrating to your team that you are always seeking to improve.  This will help you continue to succeed and set a good example for your team.  Win, win.

Communication is key, and simplification is equally important.  If you can’t explain it simply, you probably don’t know it well enough yourself.  Do not try to impress your team with your knowledge.  You are here to instruct them and build their knowledge.  That is what will impress them in the end.

What’s Next, Boss?

Keep your team informed and let them know their interests are part of your plans.  Even if what you are involved in doesn’t directly involve them, keep them apprised of your projects.  Let them see how you set up for success.  Be willing to mentor them so they can understand how you do your job.  They don’t have to be able to do it, but they should have an understanding of it.  Conversely, you should have an understanding of their jobs.  You don’t have to know how to specifically perform their tasks, but you should have a clear overview of them.  This is yet another way to earn your teams respect.

Everyone Matters

You should always be firm, but fair.  Treat everyone the same. Allow for flexibility on your part, and always look for feedback.  Your team needs to know they matter and that you appreciate their efforts.  Tell them you value them as a team member.  Give them tasks on a regular basis.  This gives them a feeling of value.  Delegating not only frees you up to handle the more important tasks, it allows your employees to feel like part of the team.  Not only does this give value to your team, it also keeps you from spreading yourself to thin.


What Does Your Body Language Say About You?

I always heard that if you walk in anywhere with a clipboard and a confident attitude, people won’t question your presence.  It’s all in how you carry yourself.  A good manager understands the importance of body language long before a word is uttered. Your team will be watching you, from the moment you stride into a room until the clock strikes five.  Your actions will always speak louder than your words, so make them count.

What Can I Do?

What is one of the most unprofessional actions when meeting with a colleague for important business? I’m sure we could come up with a list of things, but how about the “limp-fish” handshake.  You know the one: their touch is so light you’re afraid to squeeze their hand for fear it might break.  A professional handshake is a sign of confidence, both in yourself and in the person, you are meeting with.

Maybe your mom didn’t make you walk with a book on your head, but maybe she should have.  Posture is one of the key elements in non-verbal communication. Walk with your head held high and take self-assured strides.  When you are speaking with someone, keep your hands out of your pockets as this may convey that you are hiding something.  Instead, cross or clasp your hands behind your back.  This will encourage your body to straighten up and improve your posture.  If this isn’t comfortable for you, try clasping them in front of you.  Try to avoid auditioning for the lead role in an Italian mob movie by using your hands as exclamations to everything. That may be great for charades, but not so much when trying to land the deal of the century.

Somebody’s Watching Me…

This next one is, in my opinion, one of the most important: eye contact.  There’s a fine line between staring at someone so hard they become uncomfortable and maintaining a respectful connection between the peepers. When addressing your team, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group, be sure they know you are interested in what they are saying. The best way to do this is through eye contact. If this makes you nervous, (it does for many people, even managers), practice in front of a mirror.  It sounds ridiculous, but it works.  Eyes are eyes and, unless you plan on meeting with a box jellyfish (24 eyes), chances are you’ll only be looking at two – just like in the mirror.

Helpful Hints

When in meetings, sit up straight, conveying an interest in being there.  An additional way of showing interest is to face the person to whom you are speaking.  If the seating allows, sit forward and show you are listening. Remember to always smile and look your best.  Smiling makes those around you feel at ease, and looking your best makes you come across in a more professional manner.

As a leader in management, body language holds more relevance to your communication than you realize.  It continues from the first moment all the way through the last.  Mastering the art of non-verbal communication will give you an edge as a manager and it will tell everyone else all they need to know: your actions definitely do speak louder than words.