If you take on controversial clients, you’d better be sure that the people in your company are onside. If you fail to do this, disaster lies ahead.
That’s where Eric Portelance, Sean Howard and I come down in this week’s Social Mediators. We revisit the question of how consulting organizations should decide whether to take on a potentially controversial client.
Sean believes that the decision about a controversial client can be a defining moment for a company. Indeed, the decision will affect both the external perception and the internal self-image of the company.
Eric argues that companies need to first determine whether their employees will want to work for the potentially controversial client. People should not be compelled to work on issues that conflict with their personal beliefs.
I suggest that this is one of those issues on which senior executives should be mindful that their own preferences must be balanced by staff preferences. Eric asks, Will the new client be consistent with the image of the company that employees themselves have.
How will existing clients view the new relationship? Every company must be sensitive to how existing clients react. Do clients hire us to accomplish a specific mandate or do they have a claim on other parts of our professional lives?
Our bottom line: In the era of the social web, when we all need to be authentic, it’s just not viable to say, let’s take all clients. It won’t pass the social sniff test. People will see you as a gun for hire, open to the highest bidder. And that’s not the way any of us would want to be seen.
As Sean Howard says: “Your decision shouldn’t be made out of fear. It should be made out of conviction.”
Would you, should you, take that client?