Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Company You Keep

Youth Culture - Mods & Rockers 1960s - 1970sImage by brizzle born and bred via Flickr

Have you thought of the impact of a highly connected, socially enabled society? The speed by which news travels today is at an all time high. Access to information is practically instantaneous. Communication channels are visible to practically anyone who wants to know about anyone or anything.

I recently made the switch back to management consulting. I joined a national firm as the Managing Director of Technology Consulting in Southern California. Having focused on running internal IT departments for the past 8 years, my contacts were primarily the employees I enjoyed working with, and a few vendors who brought high value. One of the challenges I thought I would face in transitioning back to the consulting world was dusting off the old contacts list and re-establishing my "services provider" network.

...That took about 10 minutes.

Impressive!.. but what's even more impressive is the access we all NOW have to the reputations of individuals, the corporations they work for, and the service providers they use. Transparency is everywhere. Just ask anyone you know on Linked-in, or anyone who knows anyone you want to speak to on Linked-in.

There is a message box on Linked-in that states how many connections you have access to. As of this morning, I currently have a way to reach 5,786,866 connections.

Wow! Talk about access.

There is no greater reason than this alone as to why it is absolutely essential to never compromise your integrity, your business dealings and your reputation. Serve your clients well, treat your employees like the gold they are, and don't bend on your values.

There is an old saying that goes something like this: "There is high price to pay for low living." Watch the company you keep and don't allow your principles to be compromised. News travels fast.

I interviewed a candidate for my firm yesterday. He had heard we were a great firm to work for from his network of friends. Oh, and by the way, he had done his homework... checked out my Linked-in profile, found my blog and read all the posts, etc. He told me that he had worked at other firms (names wont be mentioned here, but they were mentioned). A lot of the firms were "meat grinders." These firms not only abused their employees but destroyed business relationships. They entered into no-win situations for their consultants and clients, whether they intentionally underbid the job or allowed themselves to be taken advantage of by their clients, and ultimately drove their employees into the ground and destroyed business relationships. I reassured him that our firm doesn't operate that way. I told him that "not only do clients pick us, but we also pick them."

Society is just too connected today to keep bad company.

I am repeatedly amazed by firms that consistently underbid work. (check out the Contracts blog post I wrote in June, 2010). They must obviously be struggling in this economy to the extent that they are willing to offer contracts at the cost of their firm's reputation... because the news of botched jobs fly around like caps at the end of a graduation ceremony. And, not only is news of those firms shared, but even the individuals who sold (and attempted to deliver the work) are immediately available to anyone who wants to know.

Just ask me or any my 5,786,866 connections.

Meanwhile, for those who are destined to do the right thing for their employees and clients, accept the fact that you are probably the tortoise in this race. It's just a matter of time before you'll be called in to pick up the pieces and get your client across that finish line.

Have you experienced similar situations? I'd like to know.
Enhanced by Zemanta