Their suggestions make reasonable sense. Unfortunately, the importance of logic and reason diminish in the relationship-success equation as issues heat up. In my experience, it is extremely difficult to address issues during or following flare-ups.
As a project management lead, I try to instill a preventive medicine approach with my teams. I like to conduct audits and assessments as part of the upstream Initiation and Definition phases of any project. Sessions in these phases usually cover expected and important topics like:
- defining objectives and strategies,
- uncovering insights about the target and competitors
- roles and use of relevant technologies
Getting client engagements in a healthy place is critical when you're in the service business. Instilling this approach within an agency is important. Topics like this are perfect for running internal sessions with your teams. A simple exercise of breaking into small groups and throwing out a few, " What should you do if . . . " kind of scenarios and regrouping to share thoughts, generates lively interactions that help you guide the culture and personality of your agency - perhaps you'll find out that poison is better than strangling ; )
I applaud Roell and Kostlova for shining a light on these issues.
Update, May 2009: Topic rationally addressed by Bart Cleveland, Creative Director at McKee Wallwork Cleveland in AdAge.com - How to Manage Client Relationships in Perilous Times