Over breakfast in New York recently a former colleague boldly declared that he thought no professional services company should ever be publically traded. No shareholders, no Wall Street performance tickers to keep an eye on. Having spent time in many of the marketing services networks myself, I was intrigued.
A passionate debate ensued. His basic premise was, if you’re concerned about your stock price how can you deliver a truly objective opinion to your clients? Or, more simply, how can you tell clients uncomfortable, troubling or disconcerting news if you’re perpetually worried about getting fired?
His perspective was that getting fired is very likely; even inevitable. How you choose to conduct yourself prior to that point lies entirely with you as an individual, as an organization.
Imagine for a second if your Doctor chose to not tell you to stop smoking and lose weight because he was fearful you’d seek a second opinion? If your Accountant didn’t fully disclose new government legislation because it might cause you to go elsewhere? Why should our professional opinion be any more filtered?
Know too that I’m making a very real delineation between “content” and “delivery” here. There is no benefit in telling the truth and insulting your client. You can achieve the former without the latter. And delivering the latter without the former should get you fired.
So ask yourself, am I prepared to tell my clients the truth regardless of the consequences? What is holding me back? What does it say about you, or your organization, if telling the truth is not boldly encouraged?
After all what else do we have to offer?