Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Being a Gentleman in Business
Differences should always be solved with the best interest of the client in mind. This will ensure a good relationship with your client from which both of you will benefit. It is often that I see people or companies struggling and fighting however. Fighting to keep the client which they tend to see as solely theirs, obstinately refraining their employees from transferring to the client and putting their feet in the sand in spite of sound judgement which should be telling them otherwise.
And you know what?
It is okay to defend your hard earned rights and that which you have worked hard for to let grow and flourish. It is okay to not let other people willfully take advantage of that what you have created. It is okay to keep people to their end of the bargain, promise or obligation! But... does this include hanging on to agreements which will end up hurting everybody, including yourself? Blindly clinging on to that -what you perceive to be- opportunity which you alone have seized and is by birthright now solely you and yours alone? The client you're squeezing every penny out of because it is your belief that he or she is yours alone for the taking? The employee who you helped to blossom and now whishes to go over to The Dark Side, leaving you alone in the cold?
Well, wake up and smell the coffee!
The client who needed your guidance has grown up and is ready for their next step. They don't need you anymore. And your employee, once a fledgling and now a fully grown soaring eagle, has found a better working environment: the client he or she currently works for. So what do you do?
- We're in it together. You recognize the fact that everything changes over time. You sit down with the client and try to find a solution from which you both will benefit the most. You nullify the contract with the client and even help them get everything adjusted. And after talking with your employee you find out that they really like working there and that he/she will get paid more. You suggest a settlement with the client.
- Me! You cry:"foul play!!" and think to yourself: this is rightfully mine! So you heed the client to the contract and threaten with legal prosecution if they don't execute their part of the contract. Sure, there is always a way out, but it will cost them. Dearly. After all, this is your money they are talking about! Apply same scenario for your employee.
Now, what will you choose?
Sadly, I've seen it more often than not that #2 is chosen. This is so bad. For a number of reasons. A sample:
IT is a small world and you will run into the other parties again. What if you need them? What if you depend on them? Will they refer other parties to you? Will the client hire you again?
- With power comes responsibility.
A lot of power and trust is invested in you, both by the client and your employees. Think carefully how you will use this power and trust. For the better good for everybody, or only for your own good? To use a metaphor: what will get you more friends in the playground: if you look out for one another or if you keep all the sweets to yourself? What will make you a better manager? To keep a good balance between all forces involved, or to relentlessly pursue your own goals, without listening?
- Team spirit.
Most of the time you will be involved with some kind of team. Perhaps your own team or a project team. How will your actions reflect on your team?
Luckily I've also witnessed some very applaudable behavior from several people and companies. And if you ask around, those companies and people will end up with a more stable base of loyal customers and employees. True, this approach can cost you some in the short run. But it will pay off in the long run. And you'll also sleep better at night.
Addendum: Wharton University's Business Journal has a good read on the subject: "In the Game of Business, Playing Fair Can Actually Lead to Greater Profits", where the paragraph title 'Fairness over Profit Maximization' sums it up rather nicely.
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