The Rules Of Engagement – Do Your Clients Know How You Play the Game?

I grew up playing board games. I can remember my Mom buying me and my sisters games like; Monopoly, Trouble, Password, Scrabble and Battleship. The hours would seem to fly by as we sat there fascinated playing any of the games in our collection. I loved playing board games with my sisters. We were so excited each birthday or Christmas that we had a new board game to conquer. With each new game we had to learn the rules. Of course, after the excitement of tearing open the wrapping paper to get to the game, reading the directions and rules, was by far the least enjoyable part of the experience. Yet it needed to be done. Without the “rules of the game,” to guide us, my mom would have spent most of her time breaking up squabbles about which one of us wasn’t playing fair. Therefore in order to avoid my siblings and me making up the rules as we went along, we needed an official source to refer to about the do’s and don’ts of the game. Isn’t this the case in business with our clients? Shouldn’t they know how we play the game? Shouldn’t we define our rules of engagement for the clients we serve?

Board games are still a favorite with my family. Every Christmas without fail, my family always finds time to play a board game. It’s our way of bonding and passing the time after everyone is full of eating turkey, stuffing, veggies and lots of cake. This past holiday season, I thought about how the rules of the game, whether it’s board games or any game for that matter, can apply in business. Here’s what I’ve learned about playing board games ever since I was a kid.

1. Know The Rules. In life and in business, it’s important to know the rules of the game…whatever the game is. What do you want your clients to know about you and the way you do business? How important is it, that you teach your prospective clients the rules up front? I’ll tell you F95ZONE , it’s critical. Otherwise, clients can and will drag you along for the ride. Directing you, dictating to you and defining the rules of the relationship. Instead, let them know how you operate up front. If you offer a one hour session for a particular program, don’t give two hours. If you have a particular product or service, lay out the guidelines ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page and expectations are clearly defined.

2. Winging It Is Not Permitted. Every now and then, one of my family members might forget the rules of a particular game during the excitement of playing. Inevitably someone will shout out, “You’re breaking the rules.” Usually, the perpetrator will challenge the call and say, “let’s look at the rules.” At this point, whoever made the call on the violation, will say something to the effect: “you just can’t make up rules as you go along!” And so it is in business, you must be authentic with your rules. It’s very important to follow established guidelines rather than making things up by the seat of your pants. In business, your clients should not feel as if they are your guinea pig. Most clients will operate within specific rules and guidelines if they are clearly communicated and published. Make certain to publicize your policies and procedures of doing business in a clear and concise manner. If you have a new rule, make sure to let your clients know in advance that you’re about to announce a new rule or policy for your business.

3. Be Positive During the Process. It never fails, somewhere during the course of the game, someone is bound to get in a tizzy because his or her team is losing. As with any game, the desired outcome is to win. However, sometimes the numbers just aren’t there and no matter how hard you try, your team is lagging behind. Usually in board games, I’m on the winning team, so losing is not something I am accustomed to doing. That statement would surely make my sisters cringe. I always make it point to announce my impending victory somewhere along the way. Nonetheless, there have been times when my team was lagging behind and the outcome looked bleak. Looking back, I can remember it was our team spirit, encouragement and positive reinforcement that losing was not an option; that ensured our success. In business, you must believe in the process and the ultimate goal that you have for both yourself and your client and that is simply to win. Don’t become discouraged if things are moving slowly, follow the plan, stick to the rules and imagine what it will feel like to win. If you believe that you will win in the end, more than likely you will.

4. It’s OK to Challenge the Process. Usually in board games you have to agree upon details of the process i.e., who’s on what team, how many members each team will have, how long you plan to play the game and if the group agrees to any exceptions to the rules. Of course, it’s crucial to challenge the process early on so that any necessary adjustments can be handled and agreed upon prior starting the game. If the goal is to play the game at 6 o’ clock and someone is missing, you have to redefine the process a tad. All of the present players must agree to either wait an additional 10 minutes for the tardy player or proceed without them. Likewise in business, whatever the goal is with your client, make sure you both agree on the process and if it’s not working…challenge it, redefine it and hash it out until it works. Remember it is OK to disagree but the goal is to make sure everyone is harmonious in the end. In business, the key is to challenge the process until you have achieved the desired goal.

5. Implementation is Key. You can know how to play the game all day, but if you never implement, you will never get anywhere and most of all never have a chance to win. Putting what you know into action is the most crucial function in playing any board game. As a business owner, you must develop a system including your strategies, best practices and tactics that get results for you and your clients. Once you define this system, you must execute it. Implementing what you’ve learned is the final step toward achieving success. You can’t win the game if you don’t apply what you know. After all is said and done, implementation is the proof that you have applied your knowledge of the game. In business, we must stress to our clients that implementing best practices consistently is the best way to achieve success.

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