The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “The client’s driving us mad...”

Question: “I run an engineering consultancy and a client changes their mind so often my project team are completely demotivated. What do I do? John

Answer: “This reminds me of a lecturer who said that university would be great if it wasn’t for the students!

We all have difficult customers but when you’re involved in a multi-million pound project such as this, it’s a bit difficult to cut your losses and walk away. You can though minimise your losses.

I’m assuming your T&Cs state that every alteration is billable. If so, there’s no financial loss for you, in fact, perversely there’s a gain.

The loss for you is in your other greatest resource, your staff.

First listen to your client to find out what it is that makes them change their minds between your site meetings and when they get back to the office. It could be miscommunication within the meeting or that the real decision makers aren’t there. If you discover that and address it, you’ll immediately reduce the changes.

Secondly work with your project team and talk about what it is that’s demotivating them. It will be different for different people and the first answers aren’t usually the real ones. Importantly find out what motivates them as well. Then you can devise a strategy between you such as rotating tasks, giving time out, buddying etc so they can respond to the client with equanimity, or ideally, as a positive challenge to rise to.

Finally remember that it’s only the individual who can change how they feel but you can improve the working conditions to help them make the change.”

Laura Murphy is an organisational development specialist and AC accredited Executive Coach. She is also a registered Growth Accelerator coach. To solve your problem email or tweet @WayfinderWoman Names and details have been changed.