You know that moment, when your marketing has paid off, you have a lead, its getting serious, and you’re within sight of the first cheque. It’s looking like a new client win.
Backs are being prepared to be slapped, targets are being filled, jobs being secured, expectations are being raised, and rewards being mentally spent. This is it! This is what its all about! Growth! New Clients! Boom! Kapow!
Except that there is a niggling itch….
Suppressed by the intoxicating heady mix of adrelinine and dopamine, the itch is ignored, but doesn’t go away.
In fact as you gain deeper exposure to the relationship, the itch grows, becoming harder and harder to suppress. The itch is exposing an ugly truth. This new client is a bit of a Dick.
Your instinct tells you this is the case, and its reinforced by behavioural observations. It might be an arrogant attitude, questionable decision making, a unhealthy focus on price, not returning calls or emails or providing information in a timely manner, rudeness, or not listening to what you have to say. Yep. This client is definitely shaping up to be a bit of a Dick….
But you rationalise it. We’ll make it work. My job, or my company needs it. We’ll suck it up – it’s work right? Sometimes you have to take the shit to get paid. Or simply – it’ll get better once we start working with them.
Except it doesn’t. All those early gut instincts prove correct. Or worse.
We’ve moved from courtship to day to day business. This Dick is now all over my day, and making me and team miserable. Ah well, at least we’re getting paid….
Except we’re not. The Dick has challenged our last invoice, moved the goal posts, doesn’t like anything you’ve done, hasn’t given you the information you want, and has demanded more of your time. Not to worry. We’ll make it work. Our pride dictates. Who wants to part of a failed relationship?
So we put more and more effort into making it work. We find work arounds for their ‘Dickness’. More ideas, more effort, more stress and sleepness nights, goodwill being burned like it’s bonfire night. Worst of all you stop doing what you think is right, and start doing things just to try and please them.
Now we’re in over our heads. We have so much invested in it, the stakes are so high, we can’t afford to back out. Its do or die. Even if the relationship ends, we want the last cheque, the dignity of completing the work so we can leave with our heads held high, and some sense that it has been worth it.
The reality is that someone is going to get fired at the end of this. Either you or the client. Even if you jump every hurdle thats being placed before you, turn the extra mile into an extra marathon, they won’t thank you for it. In fact all they’ll remember is how difficult it was, and how it was all your fault. And they will definitely not give you any more work. Because they’re a Dick right? Thats just how they roll…
Your team will be stressed and demotivated. They’ll have grown to hate their jobs. Your profitability will have gone through the floor. And morale will be at all all time low.
The Dick was right about one thing though, it was your fault.
You knew they were going to be Dick. They were raising more red flags than a Chinese military parade.
What did you expect? That they would change? Changing client behaviour is like pushing water uphill. You can try, but chances are you are going to get very wet.
The problem is that they have all the power. Not just they have all the money. But because you have let them behave that way with you and your staff because they have the money. You accepted it. You enabled it. You reinforced their behaviour by saying it’s OK, as long as you give us the money. You gave them their power to be a Dick.
And you know what? Even the money wasn’t all you thought it would be. You over serviced, let other more reliable clients down in preference for them, made miniscule margins, stopped focusing on getting better clients to try and make them happy, and now have to pay the costs of demotivated, miserable workforce with one foot out the door. It wasn’t even worth it.
So what to do? Well listen to you instinct for a start. If someone starts off being a Dick, they’re probably going to stay being a Dick. I do believe everyone has the potential to change, but you have to ask yourself at what cost? And if you invested that time elsewhere how much more would you gain?
All their power is gained from people sucking it up and saying it’s OK.
You need to stop that cycle. Say no and walk away. It’s just not worth it. Life is too short to work with Dicks and in the end it doesn’t make good business sense either. In staff terms alone, your best staff will leave, wondering why you didn’t protect them, costing you a fortune to replace them.
And if you say no. Guess what? The more people that say that, the more their power is reduced. ‘Why isn’t the Dick getting anything done?’. ‘Well no one wants to work with the Dick’. That’s not a good career move.
20 years ago, being a Dick might have seemed like business badge of honour. ‘Yeah! He’s a massive Dick, but he gets results right?! It’s just business…’
It’s that kind of attitude that invented financial products that no-one understood, which turned out to be just ruses to make the Dicks rich. ‘Yeah! Job Done!’. That kind of attitude that carves down rainforest like they’re mowing a lawn. ‘Yeah! Big swinging timber Dicks! Whoop!’. ‘Work always comes first!’ says the sad, lonely, divorced, kids-don’t-really-like-to-speak-to-him Dick from his bachelor flat.
The truth is it’s really not necessary. There are more than enough smart, pleasant, AND successful people in the world for you to choose not to work with Dicks. And guess what? It’ll be a far more rewarding relationship in all senses of the word. And double guess what? You can be one of them too! Meaning less Dicks to go around…
So don’t be a Dick. You’re better than that.
And listen to your instinct. Choose not to work with Dicks before its too late.
It’s never worth it.