“I am a Client Principal at Objectivity.” That is my answer at birthday parties when asked what I do for a living. And then I see people with question marks in their eyes. What is a Client Principal and what does he/she do?
It is even a question that my fellow Client Principals and I are trying to answer for a while now. Not that we don’t know what we are doing, but everyone in our team does it slightly differently and has his/her focus on different areas.
The Client sees me as an Account Manager and my Tribe sees me as someone who interferes with Delivery. And the truth is somewhere in between.
I believe that the origin of my role lies deep within our company’s values. We are aiming at long-term partnerships with our customers and the partnership should be based on a mutual Win Win situation. My role tries to guard this Win Win goal at all times. Being at the client I am able to hear things and see things and can try to discuss openly things to prevent them going into a different direction than the desired Win Win.
Our people are vital to us as a company. And in my role, I try to protect people from being harmed in case of potential finger pointing exercises. I have a keen eye on for instance our Happiness Index to see how the team is feeling and when there are concerns around their customer I see it as my role to reassure them. I can explain the client’s sentiment and processes to help you understand their situation.
Tell it how it is and be honest with yourself, is another one of our core values. Sometimes, however, this sounds easier than it is. For no one, it is easy to tell the client that there is a delay in project delivery or that someone made a mistake. And there again it is my role to help. Firstly, as said above, I am here to protect our people. So when you need to tell a ‘bad’ message, you can count on me to help with that. Secondly, as Client Principal part of my core activities is to build long-lasting relationships with key stakeholders in the client’s organisation and with that create an atmosphere of understanding instead of a possible blame culture.
More and more being agile becomes the norm in many organisations, but still for many it is a relatively new area. And here, I in my role as Client Principal, try to help in being a consistent ambassador of our companies proposition and delivery process. And being Agile also means that we want to be able to react quickly in case of emerging changes. And there is no better place to be than at the client self to hear things and enable the team in Poland to adapt to the changes.
Our last core value is Excellence. Here again in my role I try to help the customer to explore new areas where we are able to help, but also to help the team to focus on the right areas.
There are, of course, also other ways to describe what a Client Principal does, for instance by summing up the areas of responsibility: Legal, Commercial, Marketing, PR, New Business, Stakeholder Management, etc. Another way is to see me in a partnership with the Tribe Master where he focuses on Operations and Tactics, and I on Tactics and Strategy. But I do think that the way I tried to describe it above fits very well.
I am here for the team and for the client. When we win, I feel happy. When we lose, I feel the pain. For both the team and the client I am an extension of the team on location and both know that I am there to help.
Due to the nature of the role, I will be more visible or audible in case something goes wrong. Due to the quality of the teams, however, this means that you won’t hear me that often. 🙂 It does not mean that in the background I am not working on other areas of the role, but since one of my goals is to make sure you can do your work without being unnecessarily disturbed by external influences, this is a good thing.
It is a challenging but interesting role. From time to time I feel lonely, because in case things go right there is no need to talk to me, both from the team’s as the client’s perspective. Most of the times, however, I feel happy that I am working with an interesting client and an incredible team.
As said before, I am here for you to make your life easier, and for the client. Call me a liaison officer, a crowd pleaser, account manager, on-site coordinator, consultant, old man, Dutchman, but better even is just to call me Jan.
And just contact me in case there is something I can help with!