I recall one of my clients saying that the single thing he looks for in…
“It’s not personal, it’s just business”
SAID BY – Psychopaths in positions of authority
WHEN – giving you bad news
RATIONALE – absolving themselves from responsibility
RECOMMENDED RESPONSE – get yourself another gig
ASAP DON’T – wait around, it’ll only get worse
This happened to me a while back and it still looms large in my list of pet hates.
My “It’s not personal, it’s just business” Experience
My long-term client had engaged me to help them sort an issue in their marketing department. I’d been working with them for just under three months when their new finance director arrived on the scene. He spent a couple of weeks assessing the situation and then decided to act. This company employed around 1,000 and also had over 200 contractors and consultants (mainly IT) – so a big cost to the business, but that was because they didn’t pay enough to attract people into employment – especially in their IT activities.
He acted by imposing a unilateral 10% cut in all contractor/consultant fees with the statement “if you don’t like it, you can go.” And I mean all – including me and my contract. Some contractors did go, most didn’t. to that extent I guess it was a success for the business.
My response was slightly different – I wrote to the CEO pointing out that this this action seemed out of line with the organisation’s values and how disappointed I was with it. His response was pretty disappointing – essentially saying that he understood and agreed with me, but that he wouldn’t undermine his new FD! He suggested I talk with the FD.
Talking to the FD
When I did finally get to talk to the guy, it was only on the phone. I expressed my disappointment and how I felt his actions ran against their values. that’s when I got the response – “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” As if this phrase absolved him of all responsibility. I realised there was no point continuing and and I said that I would complete my contract (I only had a few days left) at the lower fee rate. Which I did and moved on.
What happened next?
Five months later I get a call from the procurement manager at the same firm – “John, we need your help….how much will you charge…”
You can probably guess my response – “10% above my previous rate, before you cut it by 10%…”
“You can’t do that, it’s outrageous.” Said the manager.
“Well, I’m doing it just in case you decide to cut my fees during the contract.”
” We wouldn’t do that.”
“Based on my recent experience, that’s exactly what you did do. And your FD made it clear that he didn’t care by saying “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”
I actually got to do the job at the higher rate. I was probably lucky, they were probably desperate but it all worked out in the end.
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