Those in positions of leadership within professional service firms serve two masters – their clients and their people. Both are essential for a firm to exist and both must be kept happy for the firm to thrive.
Client Relationship Management has taken hold as a process to help ensure that firms keep their valued clients happy. CRM processes and principles help to ensure that the needs of clients are identified and that the firm positions itself to meet and exceed them. It is, of course, not an altruistic approach. CRM benefits the firm but it does so by placing the emphasis firmly on building strong relationships with clients.
HRM, on the other hand, stands for Human Resource Management (rather than Human Relationship Management) and there is a direct emphasis on squeezing value from those resources for the benefit of the firm (rather than indirectly by meeting and exceeding people’s needs and aspirations).
Now, of course, the relationship a firm has with its clients is different from the relationship it has with its staff. However, I suspect firms could benefit by applying some good CRM principles to the people side of the business. Effective but under-used processes such as career mapping and job sculpting would take on much more significance, and feedback through employee opinion surveys and 360 degree feedback would be taken much more seriously.