Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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My Three Toughest Clients In 2016
Toughest Clients

Dear Readers,

Welcome to 2017! To kick off the new year, I’ll share some secrets of my success from 2016. Here are three scenarios where I resolved difficult situations. The lessons I applied yielded tips and tools that could be useful for you and your staff if you encounter similar situations:

  1. One client contacted me because one of their brightest stars was fading fast – great aptitude and experience, but bad attitude. The firm leaders had cajoled, threatened and begged to try and get this rainmaker back on track and contributing, but nothing had worked. When I spoke with this individual I learned he was facing a number of personal obstacles and had become distracted and unfocused. I allowed him to vent about his issues, then vent about his frustration with his lack of success and then vent about his inability to move on.
    In many cases, like this one, people just need an ear. They need to be able to talk about what’s in the way. Once that’s done, it’s helpful to move on to constructive planning. We worked together to establish goals that felt right for him. Then we created a specific, week-by-week plan so he could regain focus and stay on track. Most importantly, we celebrated the “wins” each week. He would often start conversations with, “you are going to be so proud of me!” He found it helpful to have a coach and a cheerleader. If this sounds like someone in your firm, you don’t need to hire an outside coach, just remember many people need to:

a) Vent about their obstacles

b) Be reminded about what they can control and influence

c) Get support in creating a personal plan

d) Have someone help keep them on track

e) Have a cheerleader or receive affirmation (“atta boy/girl”) once in a while

  1. One client was frustrated because they had spent a great deal of time and money on off-sites during the prior two years. While there were lots of discussions about this problem, there was no measurable output. Some of the same issues kept lingering with no apparent resolution. I explored the content of the off sites and found that while there was a lot of dialogue, there were no plans. Time was spent talking about what they should do, instead of planning what they could do. More importantly, everyone left believing things would change without any authority or agency to act.
    In many cases, good intentions go bad when off-sites or other meetings are held – even professionally facilitated – but the end goal is not clear. When there are no concrete agreements made, plans fall apart. We gathered the team together again just to plan – what, who, when, how and how much. If you have had similar situations with best laid plans, remember that in order to make change happen:

a) People need to be clear about the end goal – the target

b) Good ideas need to be translated into action – it may sound fine, but how will you accomplish it?

c) People need to know what they are accountable for, when it is expected and what others are doing

d) The more specific the steps, the more likely people are to take them

By Beverly Flaxington, read the full article here.