The Power of Relationships
by Susan Paul
You’ve likely heard the adage “dig your well before you need it,” which I’d loosely translate to “be prepared.” In the IT world, we spend a lot of time and energy preparing—for backup and recovery, testing, dry runs of system rollouts, and so on. Why then is it so hard to make the same investments in relationships to “be prepared” when we know we should?
Too often, I hear people say they feel that their work should stand on its own merits, and they resist investing in developing relationships they will one day need. I confess to having been there as well at one point in my career, but two experiences convinced me otherwise—both with consulting firms. However, the same experiences could have occurred in an internal IT organization or a software company.
The first transpired when I ran a branch of a small consulting organization. We took on a high-risk project, which encountered difficulties. I spent a lot of time with the project team, encouraging them and doing what I could to keep morale up, all the while thinking that the project would right itself. I did not, however, spend much time with the client, instead letting project status conversations happen through the project manager and sales rep.
When the project didn’t right itself and, in fact, went seriously downhill, the only acceptable path forward financially for me was to engage the client in a negotiation of how much more they would pay to finish the project. I went into a meeting with the client CIO having met him only briefly once before…
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