As an HR consultant you’ll spend large chunks of the time you spend interacting with clients advising them what to do. But what if they don’t want to? Here are some tips for avoiding/dealing with this scenario.
1. Remember they’ve invited you there
If this is something you’re worried about but haven’t yet encountered, don’t worry too much. If you’ve previously worked in-house as an HR Manager or similar, you will have spent time advising managers what to do in circumstances where those managers have you imposed upon them, rather than seeking you out.
As an independent consultant to small and medium sized business, your clients have actively decided they want to seek your advice, and are paying you for it. This automatically means they are far less likely to disregard it. They are not likely to pay a high hourly rate for advice they intend to ignore.
So this may not come up at all.
2. Tailor your advice
Advice which doesn’t feel relevant is always more likely to be ignored. Make sure the advice you give is (and just as importantly feels) very relevant to the client’s individual situation. If you show that you genuinely understand their business and their issues/priorities, your advice has much more credibility and is unlikely to be ignored.
3. Tailor how you deliver the advice
You’ll get to know your clients and how they tick, including how they respond to advice. Some need lots of detail, some need less. Some need chasing, others don’t. Some prefer phone calls, others need everything written down. Delivering your advice in the way that you know works best for that client makes it more likely to be followed.
4. Give options
In a challenging situation for a client, the advice you give might not be very appealing. If you give only one option, and say they “have” to do X, and “can’t” do Y, if X doesn’t appeal, they are more likely to ignore your advice.
If you give a number of options, and outline these clearly to them, including what is involved and what outcomes they could expect, they feel empowered, they are making a decision rather than having it made for them, and you can guide them to the most appropriate route.
5. Make consequences clear
If there might be negative consequences to not following your advice, make sure the client understands these. It’s not about scaremongering, be realistic rather than all doom-and-gloom, but just make sure any decision they make is a fully informed one.
6. Follow up follow up
You are likely to give at least some advice over the phone or in person. Always follow it up with an email. Some clients don’t listen well or remember advice given over the phone, particularly in a hurry, so following it up with an email means what you said is absolutely clear to them.
It gives them something to refer to, serves as a reminder, enables you to elaborate if necessary, and if the worst comes to the worst and they ignore your advice, you have evidence of what you said available to you.
7. Protect yourself
As well as making sure you always have written evidence of the advice you have given, usually in the form of an email, it’s vital to ensure you have well-drafted terms of business/contracts with your clients, making it absolutely clear that you cannot be held accountable for losses incurred as a result of not following your advice, and giving you the right to walk away from a client/a project if necessary.
8. Walk away if necessary
Sometimes it might be necessary to walk away. It may seem unlikely that a client paying you for advice would persistently fail to follow it, but it might happen. If that happens, even if they are prepared to continue to pay you, for your own sake it is probably best to leave them to it.
If things go dramatically wrong, it is better to no longer be involved, both for your sanity and for your professional reputation.
If you’re interested in talking to us about becoming a partner with face2faceHR with bags of support, do get in touch.