Who is the True Client?
would like to thank Jim Robinson of Partners
in Change, Inc. for contributing
this month's tip on how to identify the true client for your project.
you ever been frustrated by a project that is moving too slowly? Perhaps
the project is bogged down for some reason, but you are uncertain what
that reason may be. When this type of situation occurs, it is important
to ask two questions:
- “Who is the ‘true’ client for this project?”
- “Do I have direct access to this individual?”
The true client is someone
who can make things happen. It is a person, or team, who have much to gain
or lose from the success or failure of the project.
More specifically, the client is the business manager whose business results
will be impacted by how well the project meets its objectives. If you are
developing E-learning for customer service representatives (CSRs) in a call
center, your project should not only impact the CSRs’ performance,
but also the satisfaction ratings of those who call into the center. Business
managers have a lot to gain from high customer satisfaction ratings. They
have a lot to lose when ratings by customers are low.
So who are the true clients
for a learning and performance project? They are business managers who:
accountability for achieving the business results the project is
- Have authority or
power to make things happen, including the garnering of resources required
to support a specific business initiative.
- Are within the chain
of command of the employees whose performance is to be changed in some
- Can take actions to
address barriers to performance in the work environment when these are
Many times the person
who is the contact for the project does not meet these criteria. That person
many times is a project manager who has responsibility
for the success of the project but not for achieving business
results. Many times the project manager does not have the power or authority
to obtain the resources required for reaching a positive impact upon business
results. While I have used business terminology to describe the characteristics
the true client, the same criteria pertain to true clients in government
and non-profit organizations. The term business results may change to organization
or agency results, but the need to identify the true client remains the same.
How do you know if you
are working with the true client? Look for signs about who are the decision
in the business unit. Who is at the table
when business goals are being set for the business unit? Who are the leaders
of the employees who will gain skill and knowledge from the learning that
you are developing? Who has the power to change the employees’ work
environment, when it is required? These leaders are the true clients.
How do you get on the radar screen of the true clients? Use your project
manager as an ally. Have a candid discussion about what is required for this
project to achieve sustained improvement in employee performance and business
results. Discuss which business leaders must be engaged if these results
are to be achieved. Then you and the project manager can agree on how to
gain face time with the true clients and engage those leaders in the decisions
and activities required for positive impact upon their business results.
When working on a learning
and performance project, always ask, “Who
is the true client?” and “How do I gain access to that individual
for decision-making purposes?”
Until next time,
Article © 2006 Darryl
L. Sink & Associates, Inc.
P.S. Thanks again
to Jim and Dana Robinson's work at Partners-in-Change.com.