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  • Writer's pictureRachel Holly

Our Path to Becoming a Trusted Advisor and Partner

AG Blog August 2022 (updated; original published July 2021)

One of the cornerstones to AvantGarde’s continued success is maintaining close, trusted client relationships over many years. How do we do that? It’s all about building strong, reliable connections, both with our clients and our employees.

We make deep, personal connections with our clients, their work, and their mission.

With so many AvantGarde employees and managers having long-term, prior Government service in senior roles, we have literally walked a mile in their shoes. We understand what it takes to deliver excellent service. We “talk shop”, empathize, and provide common sense ideas that work in their day-to-day Federal Human Resources (HR) world. They know we are more than service providers; we are collaborative solution partners.

Recently we met with a new potential Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) client who needed a broad-scale agency-wide recruitment plan. Light on specific details, the AvantGarde team was able to quickly generate a solid approach because we understood instinctively what the CHCO needed. Through follow-up conversations it was apparent that our approach and that which the CHCO desired was entirely in sync. Our approach was accepted as delivered because clients don’t need to explain the intricacies of the Federal HR environment to us.

Another prominent example is a federal client we’ve been serving since 2018, and who has returned to us time and again for a range of human capital needs. We have supported them throughout FY22 with many large-scale hiring requirements requiring a quick ramp-up, following the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). We have worked alongside this client, already having a deep understanding of the agency and its needs, and quickly enabled them to attract a highly qualified candidate pool and conduct thousands of interviews. The client – recognizing AvantGarde’s critical role in helping the agency reach the BIL milestones – expressed gratitude not only for the team’s efforts and impact, but for our perspective and dedication to their mission.

This type of praise from clients affirms our connection; the strong relationship we build with them is evident in their appreciation of the team’s hard work, often singling out individuals who go above and beyond. Similarly, we understand that HR is successful when clients have a partner who fully understands and appreciates their team’s work to support the agency’s mission. Whether it’s a client that already considers us a partner, or a new project for a new client, we use insatiable intellectual curiosity to quickly learn the how, what, when, where, and why of the organization.

To better understand the work of a specialized unit for a Capitol Hill client, for example, we attended in-person walk-throughs of the sites and participated in focus groups with employees performing that work so that we were connected at the hip with the needs of the client and understood the nuances of those specialized roles. It was important for us to immerse ourselves and gather the insight that would best enable us to support the team from Day One.

We have strong connections to the AvantGarde employees delivering results on the ground.

We know that AvantGarde is only as good as the employees we provide to support our client’s needs. We connect frequently with our employees to exchange knowledge about our clients and their work and mission. This establishes an open, consistent dialogue about what employees are seeing and experiencing in service and project delivery and what our clients may be relaying about project direction or changing priorities, which ensures we can be nimble with the constant changes and flux natural to the Federal environment. And due to the quality and consistency in what they produce, our employees become trusted advisors and partners with our clients, often for very long periods of time.

For instance, last fall we brought a new employee onboard who had been with a different vendor. As is our usual process, we established regular check-in calls with the employee and our Project Manager. These calls are a chance to connect about work assignments and priorities but also to explore how the employee is doing personally and professionally. This new employee remarked that this was the first time a company had ever set up regular calls with her. In fact, when she had been with the prior company, she rarely even heard from them.

By building and maintaining these connections, we create a path towards partnership. And the numbers speak for themselves! With 80% of our work coming from existing clients, it’s clear that they see AvantGarde as the go-to trusted advisor and partner for their Human Resources, Human Capital, Business Operations, and IT-driven needs.

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