First Retail Consultants – what to expect

#1. Make your sponsor a hero

The number one rule – you have been engaged to serve your sponsor and to make them successful in their role within the client organization and to do so within their mandate. Deflect glory to your manager.

#2. Be the solution not a problem

You are there to solve a problem that the client does not have either the resources or expertise to solve. Do not complicate the issue for the client in any way for instance in trying to redefine deliverables or processes without good reason. If you must state a problem, then make sure it comes with a solution.

#3. Require minimal direction

You have been hired for your experience and expertise and for your ability to act in a self-directed manner to complete your deliverables. It’s better to solve a problem 80% correct and revise the 20% than wait for a 100% plan. Set goals and hold yourself and be accountable for results

#4. Set and manage expectations

With regard to deliverables and schedule – ensure that you set expectations and manage them on an ongoing basis. Make up to date project plans available. Focus on the task rather than billable hours and be aware of the value you provide to the client in return for their fees and don’t let sub-par work slide. Be proud of your deliverables.

#5. Remain visible and transparent as you deliver on promise

As you go about your work, remain visible. Don’t confuse activity with progress and keep your manager apprised of issues – status reports are a good way to do this. When you promise to deliver something, make sure you deliver it whether it is the whole deliverable, a status update, a decision or even something as simple as a phone call or email.

#6. Be both confident and honest

You are an expert in your field, therefore your conduct must reinforce this. Be confident in your approach and how you present deliverables. If you do not know something, be honest that you do not know but then find out the answer by researching or from someone who knows and respond quickly.

#7. Understand and fit with corporate culture

All client organizations have a unique corporate culture and way things are done. This may be slower than you are used to, in which case it is up to you to understand these things and manage around them. Act as if you were guests at a client site – not subservient, but not condescending.

#8. Be helpful and friendly

How you interact with your manager, colleagues and any external vendors is an important part of how you are perceived. Good relationships are vital to getting things done smoothly and effectively and are vital to getting things done smoothly and effectively.

#9. Manage all stakeholders, top to bottom

Stakeholders all the way up and down the organization are important. If you are presenting to senior management, take this seriously. If you are asking junior or operative staff member to perform tasks, then do so with respect. Do not underestimate who is influential in the organization. Don’t assume others have all the information they need. Make sure the right people are in the know.

#10. Keep Your Cool Under Pressure

If you find yourself in a difficult situation, the key tactic is to remove emotion. Whether someone is deliberately trying to get on your nerves or just doing it unintentionally, you must maintain your professionalism and keep your composure. There is nothing to be gained by heating the argument up further. Don’t point fingers to take the heat off yourself and take responsibility for your actions.

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