Friendly Conversations Can Foster Better Collaboration
Successful team meetings and memorable dinner parties share one important characteristic. In the end, it’s all about the people around the table with us and the quality of that shared experience.
Great results, like good times, flow from stimulating conversations, sharp questions, laughter and polite-but-vigorous arguments.
At SRB Communications, our team prides itself on helping clients tell their stories and connect with diverse audiences. Our clients define our mission. We research, analyze, strategize, counsel and write to accomplish it.
We like to think of our clients as partners and we hope clients see us in that light too. All projects start with a written Scope of Work, an agreement between SRB and the client describing what will be done and what will be accomplished by the project’s final deadline. That’s a valuable place to begin because we all know from personal experience that misunderstandings occur, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Successful client-contractor relationships need something else too and that is a voluntary, enthusiastic spirit of collaboration to achieve a result. What that takes can’t really be put into a contract. People on our side and the client’s side must make it happen, just like two strangers seated next to one another at a dinner party if they want to have a good time.
Once work begins, clear communication is essential. We recently wrote a stakeholder engagement plan for a utility company client. Helpful client feedback made our revisions effortless. With each submission, our client’s point-of-contact responded promptly with specific guidance about points we needed to address, flesh out more or emphasize. When we asked for updated background materials, they quickly popped into our email inbox. Each version we wrote was demonstrably better. In our opinion, our 48-page final version was one of the best stakeholder engagement plans we’ve ever done.
Here are some steps that we recommend to clients to keep campaigns and projects moving smoothly:
A kickoff meeting at the start is a good beginning.
Client and SRB representatives can size up the project informally and start getting to know one another as people. Informal conversation is a wonderful way to establish a working relationship.
Agree on how the project will proceed.
Ask organizational questions that might require follow-up. Should there be weekly meetings between SRB and client representatives to discuss progress or snags? Will the same representatives on both sides attend these meetings consistently? Who will attend these meetings? And more importantly, who should attend them?
Decide on a decision-maker.
On projects where we’ve worked with multiple representatives on the client side, it has helped to have someone involved with authority to make decisions promptly. Or at least someone with direct access to people with that authority so that progress doesn’t grind to a halt.
Be up-front with us about potential obstacles down the road too.
If you are SRB’s point-of-contact, tell us early about anything that might make you unreachable for days or weeks such as an imminent surgery, a long vacation coming up, jury duty or more pressing work duties. Perhaps you can line up a temporary stand-in?
We enjoy working with clients who are engaged in the project with us. These clients answer our emails promptly, they provide timely feedback on deliverables, they send authoritative background materials to give us a better grasp of a subject, they connect us with human resources inside their organization to deepen our understanding.
This is what real collaboration looks like and it pays off in better creative work and better business relationships.