I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you for entrusting me with your project. It is my intention to do the best possible work I can for you; but based on a few things I’ve begun to see, we need to talk. Can you spare me a few minutes?
First – and, I know we’re all influenced by our corporate cultures, but hear me out – I’m not “just a vendor.” I am a human being, and so are the members of my team. At last check, you are part of the same human race as well. If our roles were reversed (and one day they could be!), would you want to be addressed with the demeaning tone and words that sometimes you project?
I didn’t think so.
While we’re on the topic of common ground, did you know that our company, perhaps a lot like yours, operates with a lot of moving parts? Think of the mechanics of on older gear-driven clock. We have to juggle resources, timelines, variables, and unexpected curveballs. Every time you decide to blow off a timeline or throw in a new change order, it doesn’t just mean one adjustment – it usually sets off a cascade of adjustments.
That equals time and money. And increases risk of failure.
During the lifecycle of a project, we all expect that some things will have to be adjusted, but it’s good to bear in mind that all “things” are not equal. For instance, if we need to fix a graphic or change a few words – that might, in some cases, be about as difficult as you changing a PowerPoint slide. No big deal, right? But if the project involves software programming, and you start throwing changes and additions in partway through the development cycle, think about the kind of disruption that occurs when you lose your wallet or contact list and have to rebuild it all.
It’s kinda like that. We just need to be realistic.
Now, about project stakeholders – let’s do us both a favor. Can we get all the stakeholders who have (financial and business and procedural) skin in the game on your side together for a kickoff meeting? Because unless we all start out on the same page, with an agreed-upon process for project management and communication, this thing will go off the rails within weeks. And, if certain stakeholders begin to assert off-plan opinions halfway through development because they weren’t aligned on goals and deliverables upfront, we’re going to face a much higher risk of failure. We are keenly aware that not all business is good business – we’d like your business to be in the “great” category.
Finally, let’s talk about feedback. We actually thrive on it! If we’re hitting it out of the park, let us know so that we can keep doing the right things. But if we’re whiffing or making errors, please don’t wait to the end of the project to give us the bad news. We want to make corrections as soon as possible, so that you look good, your boss looks good, and we look good. Yes, let’s schedule a post-project review to extract as many lessons (positive or otherwise) as we can, but far better to have an open line of communication the entire way through.
We’re here to help you succeed. By helping us succeed, everyone wins. We have common goals, so let’s embrace some basic ground rules for success!
Yes, we are on the same team is my company's mantra and then we set things up so that is evident in each meeting, project and campaign.
As to the "the demeaning tone" I learned to ask "what that is about" in that moment. Saying things like "I am hearing ______ and think it is possible you are stressed about _______. Tell me where this is coming from so I can truly help?"
Yes they are human too and might just have succumbed to stress in the moment. When you handle it with grace and straight forwardness, it allows you both to address right there.
If they continue, they are fired. Life is too short to deal with meanness and disrespect.