To comment that we are living in the era of technology revolution isn’t an exaggeration. While we are long past the days of trading the touch of currency to digits on an electronic screen, we are now in an age where the auto industry is hell bent on getting the driver off the road, billionaires are exploring commutes to another planet, and many more such hard-to-believe-laugh-at-first experiments. While soaring share prices could be the crux of a profit organization, all these industries claim to deliver the ultimate experience to the customer.
The customer, the customer base, is everything.
The Information Technology Service industry isn’t an exception to this. The clients here, are placed on a pedestal. Am honestly glad that I’ve had the fortune to work with clients who were more partners and less ‘mere clients’, people who were leaders in every essence of the word. It is also true that this industry is inundated with demanding customers who want to have the cake and eat it too, challenging customers who nano-manage the life out of suppliers, and certain others who are lost in the digital maze. Having considerable stints with many clients, I believe am experienced enough to understand that each client is unique, and different teams at a client place, operate differently. And when I thought I’ve explored most of the permutations, certain people did surprise me indeed!
The kind of people who hinge on the trivialities, the people for whom ‘unreasonable’ doesn’t cut it.
And left me second guessing my game.
The learning and trainings I’ve undertook, have clearly emphasized what Management guru Peter F Drucker had defined – “Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for.”
Performing by the above adage, I’ve respected and liaised with this client too. Been a year, trying to collaborate, trying to convince myself that their management style has been coerced by workplace dynamics – Executive reorganizations, budget cuts, bottom line improvements, all possible excuses. But I’ve reached the threshold, to realize that none of these excused their ‘penny-wise pound-foolish’ work styles.
Their game is all about trifles, the stuff that doesn’t add any value to the team delivery, let alone the vision of their organization. And when an individual’s delivery is only about their own survival, it is not just they who lose out on the big picture, their organization fails too. And when the client organization lacks in excellence, any amount of remediation from a supplier, goes in vain.
An ideal client-supplier partnership should be able to overcome such failings, build trust and accountability for the long run, by identifying avenues to resolve this. It sounds great in theory, but in practice, we could only try to patiently work around their limitations, distance ourselves from their counterproductive styles, genuinely acknowledge and appreciate their contribution, however insignificant they may be. But there is no escaping their insecurities. And when it is compounded by more insecure people within that particular team, it wreaks havoc. Also, when entrusted with the responsibility of managing a team to deliver to this client, it becomes even more imperative to not cascade this frustration. Contemplating surrender meant accepting that am not at the top of my game in handling difficult clients. So I sought support from management books, related blogs, and peers, to battle this situation. The deeper I introspected, I realized I had no answer for the question – why do I need to try this hard?
That instant was my Zen moment! The clarity that it is fine not to try any longer and to only focus on the productive spectrum of the client, left me relieved.
It was time to let go. It was time to realize that I haven’t lost my game, I’ve only grown wiser to prioritize my sanity and peace of mind over petty people.