Having the hard conversations

As a PM there will be difficult conversations with clients, like budget overruns, deadline misses, launch failures, and contract disagreements. What follows are some methods to minimize the negative impact of these chats.


CivicActions is fiercely open, and we want to be transparent with clients as much as possible. While this may have down side in the short term, over the longer term our clients grow to trust us. Feel free to share details with the client. This helps them understand our inner workings and see behind the curtain. The more they know about how we operate, the better.

Honesty & accuracy

Being honest and accurate in any conversations is another important element in gaining a client's trust. Being less than honest or inaccurate with a client will eventually be noticed, and trust will decrease.

It's ok to fail

Failure is an important element of success. Taking responsibility for failure is a good first step to improvement. Retrospect on the failure with all involved. Make a plan that addresses failure points and execute that plan. Include the client in this process whenever possible.

Avoid surprises

Clients tend not to like surprises, because surprises are usually bad news. As soon as a risk is identified, bring it up with the client and make them aware. Do this for big things and little things, because sometimes little things turn into big things.

It's ok to ask for team support to join any hard conversations

You don't have to have a hard conversation with a client by yourself. Ever. Bring in a peer or escalate as needed.