Volume 5 Number 12 | December 2015
A Need for Reason
When I first began my consulting career, my direct manager told me that I was needed on a certain assignment on certain dates because the client had changed the schedule and the original people assigned couldn't do it. I told my boss that my wife and I had a cruise planned for that week and that we had paid for it. He told me to cancel it, get my money back, and show up at the client as required.
I did that because I felt my job depended on it, and this is what one did when working for a firm. My wife gracefully agreed.
However, I found as time went by that such acquiescence simply enabled the demands of the firm, and the firm was, in turn, enabling the ridiculous demands made by some of its clients. I arrived at a point in importance, title, and temperament where I simply dug in my heels. Sometimes I had to go directly to the client and explain why we couldn't accommodate the new date, because my own hierarchy was afraid.
I found the the client was always ready to compromise. But the client never had reason to compromise when everyone simply complied with every new request or demands.
What Does Your Boss Think:
Being on our own exacerbates the issue, because many of us are working for tougher bosses than ever.
We tend to capitulate to client requests, no matter how unreasonable or inconvenient because we feel we might lose the business; or we might be seen as unreasonable; or we simply believe that it's our "duty" to comply. All of this, of course, is nonsense.
The Million Dollar Mindset requires that you see your own time as valuable and subject only to your own direction. You can always make another dollar, but you can't make another minute. A client request is not a threat to terminate the relationship if it is not met. A change of schedule is not a demand for blind compliance.
We need to inform our clients of unreasonable demands, and impossible scheduling changes. (And we need to avoid even entertaining them at the outset and proposal stage.) Almost every client will discuss compromise and alternative, but you need to be talking to a buyer who can engage in compromise and alternative, not an underling who, himself or herself, is scared to resist arbitrary requests.
Stop acting out of imaginary fear of loss. Eliminate the mindset that says the client is superior and not a peer, and that his or her requests must be met, no matter what the cost. Stop thinking that sacrifice is a part of your job.
To quote the humorist George Ade: "Don't pity the martyrs, they love the work."
© Alan Weiss 2015
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