Friday, March 25, 2011

Grace Under Fire

After a bit of affectionate chit-chat at the start of lunch the conversation veered for the worse.

"This is a difficult thing for me to do," their corporate communications lead explained.  "We've made the decision to consolidate our business and, unfortunately, there won't be a place for you moving forward."

And just like that after a wonderfully fulfilling four year relationship one of our largest clients fired us.

It's a bitter reality of professional services.  Regardless of how well you perform, the results you deliver and the ROI produced, you get whacked for things often outside of your control. 

In this case, a relatively new CEO concluded that consolidation of their representation will produce a better outcome.  It's understandable and may indeed be successful.

Yet, the sting is there and, admittedly, there is a temptation to confront the client's decision head on.

That's never a wise play as an emotional reaction to being let go is unproductive.  I've done that twice in my 16 years running Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) and the outcome was the same -- it effectively severed the relationship.

We subscribe to the "grace under fire" methodology which includes:

1.  Be thankful for the opportunity to have been part of the team.

2.  Be supportive of the transition to ensure the client continues to be positioned for success.

3.  Be sure to stay connected with the executives you've worked with and identify ways to bring value to the relationship.

4.  Be thoughtful in your analysis of the client engagement to identify lessons learned.

Getting fired hurts because we invest so much in the success of our client engagements.  However, as my mom always told me growing up, "Always leave people smiling."

1 comment:

Scott said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing some wonderful insight into how to handle a very difficult situation.