Professionals oftentimes remain in situations that are less than ideal, desperately hoping that circumstances will improve. They remain in stressful jobs or on consulting projects that simply aren’t the right fit for them. They compromise there values to keep “others” happy making themselves miserable, and the list goes on. And, in tough times, the likelihood of this happening increases exponentially. Though persistence pays, there are times to walk away no matter what the promised prize.
Indicators when you should walk away:
Scenario: You have responded to a Request for Quotation and the prospective client asks you to lower your price because you will be getting many projects from them in the future.
Response: Thank the client for their faith in you and let them know that for the first few projects you will keep your prices, but for subsequent projects you are open to negotiating a special pricing.
Why not to discount: As a professional it is very important not to devalue your services if you want to keep your reputation intact, especially when you cater to a certain level of clientele. It is better not to be in a situation where you have to explain to Client A why Client B got a discount.
Handling an exception: There are always exceptions to every rule, and, if there are indeed reasons for lowering your price, make sure that on your invoice you have your original price clearly stated with the discounted price and the reason.
Scenario: The owner of a small business hires you for team building. You carefully evaluate the situation and realize that the owner not only manages by a culture of fear, but forces the employees to do things by bullying them. To compound the situation, they “knock down” all recommendations and dictate what changes you should make even though you are the expert.
Response: Have a candid meeting with the owner off-site to discuss the situation because they might not be aware of the offending behaviours. Set a timeline, and if substantial changes do not occur during that period, walk away.
The Demanding Client
Scenario: You are working on a project and everything is going great, and everyone appears happy and satisfied with your work. You submit your draft report on time for the client’s feedback. The client provides some feedback, most of which is reasonable, but slips in a completely new piece of work.
Response: Make the changes that are within scope of the project and explain to the client that you will negotiate a price for the new work that is out of scope. If the client agrees great! If they indicate that there is no money in the budget to cover the new work, you have to make a decision, taking into account the original budget or size of the project, the nature of the relationship with the client and the type of project. Did you really enjoy working on the project? Would you want to do another project like that?
The last thing you want to do is come across as being inflexible, but you also do not want to be taken advantage of so exercise good judgment, and remember that one of your choices is to walk away and do not do the extra piece of work for free, especially if it takes you away from paying work.
Scenario: Productivity has declined substantially in an organization, and they are losing clients in leaps and bounds. You have been brought in to identify the problem and recommend solutions. You conduct an audit and discover that the environment is poisoned and the offending party is the new owner who contracted you. You have exhausted all the tools in your tool-kit and none is the right antidote for the problem. You have consulted your professional colleagues and tried all the suggestions that make sense, yet nothing works. The owner refuses to accept any responsibility.
Response: Don’t just walk away, run! You will never make any kind of difference in that environment.
Perhaps you have never faced situations exactly like these, but we live in a culture where people often do not know how to say no or how to just walk away from situations that are not ideal. In my journey, I have encountered some remarkable people who know how to walk away at the appropriate time, and have done so with dignity and grace. We could all learn from them! Never compromise your values for a piece of work, it simply is not worth it.
Avil Beckford is a writer, researcher and the published author of Tales of People Who Get It and its companion workbook Journey to Getting It. She resides in Toronto and blogs at theinvisiblementor.com.