By Susan Ross, Founding Partner.

Maybe it is because Lessons in Chemistry is on nearly every book list this year (and it is a great read), but I have been thinking lately about CHEMISTRY and how it plays a role in successful relationships of all kinds.

It is not AP Chem I am thinking about, but what is defined as “the complex emotional or psychological interactions among people.” This goes beyond marriages and friendships and includes other kinds of associations, like those between nonprofits and their volunteers and donors or Executive Directors and their staffs.

At moss+ross, we take very seriously the chemistry involved in our professional relationships with clients. We work with all kinds of nonprofits and all kinds of people. Well over half of our 257 clients have hired us for multiple engagements over the past 15 years – the record is 22. We love it when we complete one project and the client calls us to tackle a new issue. Because our service areas are broad (strategic planning, assessments, campaigns, searches, interim staffing, coaching, retreats) we can usually help, often bringing on a different member of our team who has skills and insights for the new project.

What makes the chemistry work well between a consultant and a client? I offer four thoughts, and would love to hear yours as well:

• Dependability. We follow through on promises, adhere to deadlines, and collaborate to produce great results. This is equally important for both the consultant and the client.

• Appreciation. We value the expertise that clients bring. We will never know as much about a client’s work as its staff does, but we do bring additional knowledge based on our experience.

• Acceptance. We are not trying to change the people with whom we partner. We accept the team as they are and work hard to help them produce the very best results they can.

• Enthusiasm. Once we have signed on, a nonprofit can count on our team being vocal cheerleaders for the cause, during and long after the engagement. My friends know not to ask me what I’m working on if they don’t want a long, excited answer about all my clients’ wonderful work.

When you bring on a consultant, you are seeking expertise beyond what you have on staff. You don’t want us to be naysayers or yes-people, you need us to be honest and make you better. Our clients say their relationships with moss+ross make it seem like we are adjunct members of their staffs, trusted advisors on whom the client team knows they can depend. Call on us to create this kind of chemistry with your nonprofit.