Recently, I had a former client ask me to “clear my schedule” for the rest of the year to take on a very large project. After getting things in place, my client no longer answered emails or phone calls and I am left wondering what happened. When I related the story to a fellow consulting friend, she said that she had the same experience. The difference was that the company had sent their first payment by check–only to have it bounce–with no communication about cancellation of the contract or information about what had happened.
A current topic on a LinkedIn consultants’ forum addresses this issue as well. There is lots of good advice about getting a deposit before proceeding or putting a clause in the partner/vendor contract about a fee for backing out of a deal.
The reality is that the liaisons on both sides of a contract have a responsibility for keeping the other informed. Sometimes things change, the recession is scaring many management teams into canceling projects or the person in charge is managing partners with an established method of dog training: what I call the “Choke Chain Management Method.”
What this method entails is as follows:
1) Don’t Communicate Since information is power, don’t share any key information with your vendors, just as you would keep your dog in a locked room, in the basement or in the backyard until you’re ready to interact with it.
2. Use Your Command Voice at all Times Always shout, demand and correct in your loudest, pack-leader voice to further show who has the power.
3. Keep Your
Animal Vendor off-balance This approach instills fear and distrust so that you have the upper hand.
4. Withhold praise and rewards By withholding all positives, your vendors should try even harder to win your praise.
5. When You Don’t Know What To Do Next, Jerk Their (Choke) Chain
Do these steps sound familiar to anyone? I hope you’re not using any of these methods in your business dealings–no matter what side of the doghouse you find yourself on.
In looking on the internet for examples of how to really treat business partners, I found lots of companies and government entities who have posted policies of vendor treatment. One of the best statement I found was on a page entitled “Working with Kimberly-Clark:”
“At Kimberly Clark, we strive to treat our suppliers with honesty, fairness and respect, and we expect the same ethical treatment in return.”
The only thing I would add is: communication. Living in limbo is always harder than hearing the news–regardless of whether it’s good or bad.
Wouldn’t it be great if all companies and suppliers adopted this simple attitude of mutual respect?