Outcomes Are What Count… Hire For The Business That You Want To Be

After my post about Breaking the Habit of Intervening (and related comments) I got to thinking about the true success factors for those people who fill the positions of Client Account Manager, Customer Relationship Manager, Project Manager, Consultant, etc.. As Ian Lurie points out in his comment, there are times when customers get fed up with their Account Managers and demand action by you, the owner. Sometime it’s about the Account Manager’s technical skills; however it has been my experience that is more often about the Account Manager’s intrinsic skills, capability, style or approach.
So I decided to list what I believe are those key success factors for people in this position. These are characteristics familiar to you, the owner, since you likely have most of them and they have been key to your success. While they may be intuitive, many small to mid-size businesses don’t make the effort to:

  • Articulate and prioritize these key success factors (along with others in their particular business)
  • Look for specific ways to identify or test for them in the interview process
  • Consciously develop ways to improve them up during the training and development process
  • Create specific methods and measurements for review and accountability related to these factors

So here’s my list of the key success factors for a Client Account/Relationship/Project manager – someone who…

  • Instills confidence in others whether on the phone, in email, in person
  • Knows when to stop talking
  • Listens more than they talk
  • Asks good questions
  • Willing to say ‘I don’t know’
  • Able to say ‘I don’t know’ in a way that still instills confidence
  • Willing to tell you something you don’t want to hear
  • Able to tell you something you don’t want to hear in a way that still instills confidence
  • Takes responsibility
  • Appropriately articulates the client’s responsibility in the success of the project/relationship
  • Admits mistakes
  • Learns from mistakes
  • Can point out mistakes of others without causing them to feel incompetent or become defensive
  • Responds to mistakes by any perpetrator in a way that instills confidence
  • Flexible communication style
  • Perceptive in identifying other’s communication style and adapting accordingly
  • Understands technology as a tool to accomplish an objective – not an isolated activity
  • Anticipates problems, conflicts, log jams, etc.
  • Proactively finds alternatives to get the job done
  • Proactively communicates with the right people
  • Able to influence others in an appropriate way to get the job done
  • Interested in what’s going on in the world, community and industry
  • Likes to learn
  • Has common sense, practical approach

Of course no one has it all – but I would rather go into an employment relationship clear about areas of weakness so I could deal with it proactively. Of course identifying these in the interview process or early in the employment is not necessarily very easy – a subject for future posts.
What would you add (other than very industry specific characteristics)? Do you specifically identify these during the hiring process or early employment period? How?

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