It’s been years since I got an email from a client that was upsetting. The kind that accuses my team for not following through on what was requested. The kind that tells me the ship is sinking and it’s our fault entirely.
I received one recently.
In my client’s world, we were the only plausible explanation for the Titanic’s fate.
From our vantage point on the lido deck, things occurred quite differently.
The story goes like this. When the ship began to sail, we set the course and we all agreed on the direction we were headed. Our recommendation was to avoid excursions in the itinerary. We set off, busting our butts to get where we needed to be.
Along the way, the client decided he wanted to add excursions. So, of course, we served him.
Lesson #1: Sometimes taking your clients where they want to go on a whim doesn’t serve them in getting to their destination.
The waters were a little rough along the way. The client failed to follow through on requests made by our team, communication was challenging… but, I’m sure these things were unintentional oversights.
So, Julie (aka me– and if you don’t know why I’m calling myself Julie, go immediately to TV.com and watch an episode of The Love Boat!) was caught between a proverbial rock and the hard place. Because blaming the lack of results on the requested excursion, and the lack of communication, would look very much like justification.
What do you do?
Just like I did, you have a choice. You can get wrapped up in the defense swirl or you can step back to see if there’s a lesson to be learned.
Truthfully, I did a little of both.
Lesson #2: It’s best not to argue with someone who has already drawn a conclusion.
I felt myself wanting to get sucked up in the swirl. The force was strong. But, I decided instead I would continue to be of service to the client and provide whatever was possible.
As for myself, I started to look long and hard at how I was running my own company. For example, taking my team on excursions and not really following the course. And by doing this, I started to feel accountable as the “captain” for us not making our destination.
Whether you’re managing a team or working for yourself – it happens: suddenly you’re following the yellow brick road when you weren’t even planning a trip to Oz.
Instead of blaming everything or everyone for you being in Oz, stop first and ask yourself who’s feet carried you along that path.
Although excursions are fun, the world needs us to stay on course!