Starting a new assignment is comparable to my memories of starting that first day of school. There are nerves and excitement of the unknowns related to a new environment, new people, new organizational structure and new opportunities with the goal to help contribute to a client’s strategy.
You interviewed and heard what the client’s objectives are, where you can contribute, and how you fit into their vision. You are EXCITED and ready to be a part of the solution.
However, between the time you interviewed and the time you start your assignment, the client continues to have conversations and sometimes the ‘strategy’ or plan may have changed a bit.
Therefore, it is recommended on your first day/week to meet with your new client manager to clarify with them a few recommended questions:
At the end of the contract, what does success of my time here look like to you?
This question helps ensure that there is a clear understanding on your part of what is expected. Are the responses from the client the same as when you initially interviewed? It also provides an opportunity for you to start laying out a plan for defining what is achievable within the timeframe of your contract. It will help you establish rapport and have open communication to set realistic goals with the client.
What communication do you need from me?
Asking the question of what type and frequency of communication the client would like to see from you is imperative. For those involved in providing an update on how the program or project is doing, also consider a separate status report/weekly update showing what YOU have accomplished this week, what YOU have planned for next week and show any identified risks and issues the client should be aware including those outside of the standard program update. While the client may not always read the weekly status report it provides them with an overview of your value and the contributions you are making to the program/project. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn here a little! Bonus tip: Your status report is also a great resource document for you when it comes time for updates to your resume.
How can I add the most value?
By asking this question you’ve opened the door and invited your client manager to share with you what is most important to them related to their goals for you and the program. It also shows that you are a team player and that you care about how the client’s money is invested and how your time is best spent.
Using these three questions will help anyone starting their new role become an integral part of any client environment to add value with the objective of a successful outcome. For more information on consulting and the opportunities available through Hollstadt, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.