Tip Sheet – 7 tips for keeping focused on what clients want

This podcast is partly based on an earlier blog here and a LinkedIn post here

How did I get here?

It’s easy to forget why I’m doing what I’m doing – what’s the overall reason behind it. If I’m not on the path I thought I was I might be experiencing “mission drift” – that slow creeping compromise, bit by bit, where you end up somewhere quite different than you had intended.

It’s easy to be caught with all of the busyness of keeping up with everything going on in your industry, who’s doing what,?

  • what’s been announced today?
  • who is expanding here, contracting there?
  • What’s the government policy going to be?
  • How can I make sure that I’m going to be ok?

business reality and compassion collide

Let me tell you about a meeting I was once in with a group of community organisations and a funder. We were talking about the contraction of government funding and the impact that it was going to have on community organisations we were in. These were difficult times as organisations considered whether they could afford to keep staff. It was particularly difficult as none of the organisations wanted to be downsizing what are really vital services. I’ve been in this situation myself, more than once, and it’s a very difficult circumstance – the business reality and compassion collide.

For quite a while the discussion focused on what the impact was going to be on the organisations if the funding contracted or changed. Then the focus shifted to the impact on staff and how the uncertainty was very difficult for them, and was creating high levels of stress and lack of motivation.

We had to remind ourselves that this is not about us, it’s about them

All of this is true – these are the realities of running a community service organisation. But at some point in this meeting the discussion shifted to what the impact on the people who needed these services would be. We had to remind ourselves that this is not about us, it’s about them.

That is, that the impact on staff and service providers is a really poor proxy for the impact that the people who need the service are going to experience. We needed to remind ourselves that our focus has to be on delivering the best outcomes for clients with whatever the available resources are.

It makes me think whether I have things around the right way – shouldn’t clients be the first thing I consider when things are getting tough?

Can I create a mindset, or working style that places my clients – whoever they are – at the start, centre and end of my work? Sounds easy doesn’t it. However, I don’t think that I have ever managed it. Particularly when I have been in roles where I haven’t been in direct contact with clients – it’s easy to become unaware of what clients actually need. Nonetheless, I need to get better at being focused on what my true purpose is, and who I am trying to serve.

So what might be worth a try?

1 – Recommitting at the start of each day to serving my clients

maybe it could be at the top of my to-do or task list each day – or in my diary

2 – Checking in at the end of the day to see if what I’ve done has improved the outcomes of my clients

If it’s in my task list, then I may get around to checking it off each day and having a quick check about whether I have been focused on my clients.

3 – Asking the people I serve whether they are getting the outcomes that they are expecting

this can be as simple as asking my client whether they are happy with what they have received.

4 – Placing visual reminders in my workspace about why I am doing what I am doing

The power of visual cues is important

5 – Using my online task system or diary to set a regular reminder to reflect on how I am achieving my purpose

I’ve set up a monthly reminder to think about my goals and to include client focus

6 – Create some success factors or KPI’s to help me focus on how I can achieve my purpose.

this will possibly change over time, and will be personal to you

7 – Reflect with a colleague, friend, or coach on how I can get better results with my work

Sometimes its easy to not see the wood for the trees, and it’s helpful to get an outside opinion
So, I’m going to try these tips and see if I can get a new habit going.