By Protima Sharma

Happy 6th birthday, PeopleWiz! It’s that day again when we take a pause and look back at the exciting journey that started for us in 2011.

What has kept us going is the magnanimity of our clients who have always trusted our intentions. With some we have enjoyed a long relationship, with others we delivered very focused assignments, but every interaction made us better.

The top 6 business lessons that our clients taught us are

1. A humble leader makes everyone shine

My smartest client is also the most humble leader that I have come across in corporate life. He knows that he cannot know everything. No opinion is considered too small and no idea too far fetched. Not only his own, he also brings out the best in my team who compete with each other to handle his coveted account. It was Michel de Montaigne who wrote, “On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.” An important lesson to remember!

2. Earning trust requires more effort than earning money

Losing a well paying client always hurts. But what hurts more is the realization that we failed to create a relationship, that should have encouraged the client to pick up the phone and tell us that we need to change. But as Rumi said, the wound is the place where the light enters you. I have learnt from losing clients that a short-term profit can never replace a long and trusted association. The benefits of building trust are more enduring. At PeopleWiz, we have a tradition of evaluating lessons learnt as a group at the end of every project. The final questions is always “Will they call us back when a need arises?’’ A simple yes or no tells us whether we earned their trust or just made money.

3. Mutual success makes best deals.

Having got used to the hard negotiations that every deal goes through, I was startled by a client who told me, “Protima, make sure that you make a profit.” His logic was quite simple, he wanted me to give my best as his partner and do that with a smile so that the work is fun. Needless to say, he earned in me a well wisher for life.

4. A strong culture is the most powerful currency

As a salesperson trying to sell our ware, we all have come across people who fail to extend basic courtesy. And then there are some organizations where everyone from security guard to CEO offers you a cup of tea. No prizes for guessing for which you reserve the best discounts. It is always a pleasure to work with clients that have a strong culture. They welcome you as a partner and treat you as their own. Some of our best work has been for clients who have shared their challenges wholeheartedly and trusted us with their plans and visions.

5. A disagreement is the best time to listen & learn

I have enjoyed the best relationships with clients that allowed me to have a counter-view to their own. They did not view disagreement as a conflict, more an opportunity to listen and learn. These are the people who kept coming back to get my view on their challenges beyond HR, especially if they thought it will generate a debate. I have learnt that my best clients go out of their way to understand others’ perspectives, especially when they disagree.

6. Purpose shows the right direction, but it’s passion that propels you.

If I look back at all the successful projects that we delivered so far, there is only one common denominator- neither the client nor we ever lost enthusiasm for the end goal. I have learnt that my clients always had a choice to buy similar or even better HR skills from the consulting market, but the reason they kept coming back to us is because they understood that we cared. It is always our endeavor to deliver on the agreed work. But a true impact is always created when the client has allowed us to step in his shoes and think of new ideas.

The past six years have been a humbling quest to get better at what we do every day. No one is better positioned to teach us than the people we serve everyday. Thank you for all the opportunities. We will continue to do our very best for you.

About the author

Protima Sharma is the Managing Partner of PeopleWiz Consulting, a firm working in the area of Organization Design and HR process Management with clientele ranging from startups to large corporates. The firm has offices in Pune, Bengaluru and Singapore. She lives in Pune with her husband and daughter