Saying ‘Yes’ Instead of Asking ‘Why’

Candy is great every once in a while, but an immediate fix is no substitute for a long-range solution.

"Why?" spelled out on black planks

As a project manager I need to hand out less candy to clients, and let me explain why: It’s in my nature for everybody to get along and to work so that everybody is happy. My default method to make everybody happy is to hand out metaphorical candy, but this can cause problematic situations.

When working with a client to develop the best possible web presence, the client will often have an idea or question that leads to a suggestion along the lines of ‘Why don’t we change this to……?’ When I hear this, my thought process goes something like this, ‘Can we do that? Sure we can do that. That’s an easy little thing that will make the client happy and happy clients are good clients. It’s my job to make the client happy. We will do that.’ And in saying ‘Yes. We’ll get right on that.’ I give the client a sweet that tastes great and everybody leaves the meeting happy.

Our agreement to act on their suggestion will make the client happy because they feel that their website has improved (the client gets candy) and it will make me happy because the client feels like they have control of their project and is happy with us (I like sharing). Here’s the problem with my philosophy: Usually, we fulfill their request to the letter and then the client will forget about their suggestion for a couple weeks or months and then they come back and ask us to remove their suggestion (they will come down from their sugar high). Then, six months or a year down the road, they will start to think about all the times I said, ‘Yeah, sure, no problem.’ And they will start to wonder why they paid us so much money when they feel like they did most of the work.

Candy is great every once in a while, but I actually have something better than candy. I have a crack team of gourmet web designers that can cook up some really great stuff. All they need to work their magic is input and trust from the client. This means that everything on the site needs to be considered from the end-user’s point of view. This means that if the client has a suggestion, we all need to evaluate the reasoning behind the suggestion, and then Infomedia, as the experts, needs to evaluate the alternatives and suggest the best option. Our goal is always to develop a site that pleases the client and the end-user, but when push comes to shove we should always choose the end-user (we have to leave the candy alone to eat our vegetables……which, because my team is really great at what they do, actually tastes pretty good)

Why would I hand out candy when I can serve up a delicious and nutritious four-course meal? Going back to where I started, I want to make everybody happy, and it is real easy for both the client and myself to lose track of our objective: create a great web presence that accomplishes the client’s goals. I shouldn’t always say ‘No’ to the client, because the client’s input is critical, but I should push the vegetables more.

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