BusinessEducation

Management finally saw the work and hated everything!

By October 2, 2020No Comments

Hello Team! Hope you all had an amazing week! Mine was great! I’ve received a lot of great feedback on my past couple newsletters and I plan to keep bringing you unique and valuable content to help your creative business…every…single…week. Thanks for subscribing!

This week I am addressing a question I received and replied to about a year ago, “The client’s management team finally saw the work and they hated everything! What do I do?”

THE SITUATION AND QUESTION:

I have a client that I’m redesigning the website for. They’re a previous client and we have a good relationship. 2 months ago we started this project, and I had mockups to them and approved 3 weeks later. 10 days ago I finally received images and content. 5 days ago I had them a working version of the site. Today they responded that management hates it. They hate the layout, colors, font choices. I had assumed they saw the mockups, but apparently not? And now they’re also frustrated with how long the project is taking. But to me, more than half the time was waiting for contact from the point person, and I gave them a working version within a week of receiving it. I feel I need to defend myself, but also don’t want to appear to be passing the blame. How would you respond?

THE ANSWER AND ACTION PLAN:

The problem is that you thought you were working with a decision maker, but in reality you were just working with an influencer, or maybe even just a task manager. The task manager approves things…makes you think all is well and approved and moving forward…but in reality they are not authorized to make the decisions. Or perhaps they think they are authorized…but it is false delegation from their superiors. In business there are several different roles that people play…

Decision Maker: Has the final say on all aspects of the project.
Influencer: Has power to influence the decision maker. This person is usually part of the decision maker’s inner circle.
Task Manager: Manages and executes on assignments given by a decision maker or influencer.
Gatekeeper: Controls access to the decision maker.

In this situation, you were likely under the assumption that the “task manager” had authority to make decisions on the project and perhaps they thought they had the authority too, but in reality the decision maker never fully delegated that authority to the task manager. Lesson learned. In the future make sure you define roles. Make sure there isn’t some hidden decision maker hiding somewhere in the background.

Ask your client at the start of the project, “Who will be the final decision maker on the work? The person who will approve the final designs? We have found that it is in all of our best interest to have that person involved early in the project and then a few checkpoints along the way.” (Then define those checkpoints.)

As for what to do now… here are some thoughts…

It really all comes back to the contract (as it should). If you had rounds defined in the agreement and the scope was clear. And you have executed on the work, then you refer back to the contract which should empower you to push back. As for the client’s managers changing everything that had been previously approved, well that is not your problem, that is their problem. You are a victim not the cause.

I would respond with a message like this…

“I understand your concerns. I am sorry we are in this situation together. The project scope was approved on {XXXX} date by {NAME.} Since that time we have been working through the scope. {NAME} has approved each round and we have progressed on the project to this point. We were operating under the assumption that {NAME} was authorized by your company to manage and approve the work as detailed in the contract. We are happy to make the work meet the expectations of the management team. Since it will require revisiting previously approved work, a change order will be required to agree on the budget necessary. After we agree on the change order, we require approvals from an authorized member of the company for each round. You can let us know who that person will be as we begin the revised work. We work hard to deliver quality work for our clients. We are disappointed that we find ourselves in this situation and we look forward to working toward a mutually beneficial solution.”

Something along those lines is a good message. You shouldn’t do the work without extra pay. You are entitled to push back. They put someone on the project who did not do their job. Their task manager did not get the proper approvals from their decision maker. Their task manager is at fault (mostly). Of course you can feel a morsel or blame for not confirming that the person was authorized to approve things…but just a morsel. Be professional. Be unemotional. Talk about contracts. Agreements. Change orders. Scope revisions etc. Use professional language and be matter of fact, even if you’re freaking out inside your head.

Thank you, as always, for your constant support. I appreciate you!

Mike

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Michael Janda

About Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 20 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help designers level-up.

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