The value of Reputation

Would you share a key business lesson you learned?

Hi, my Business Networking International (BNI) associate and I are the education coordinators for our chapter and are writing 50 life/business lessons, one for each week. We will seek publishing later on down the line, and readers would value a diverse population. Do you have a story of a lesson you would wish to share?

Kevin Harville

Total Success Teams / New Eras Media

Your only asset with any true long-term value is your reputation.

Providing less than your very best, bad-mouthing your competition, overselling, under-delivering or misrepresenting yourself will all come back to bite you eventually. If you’re honest, open and ethical in your business dealings, you may lose out to someone “less scrupulous” in the short term, but your reputation will ultimately earn you back far more in the long run. You’ll also sleep easier at night knowing that you’re doing the “right thing” for your customers and for yourself.

Job Search Transparency

From my perspective, the best scenario with a future boss is to build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, which implies a certain amount of transparency as the process unfolds in the interview and job search process.

The question from a potential boss and liaison to a mentor: If a potential boss asks to know when/if any other potential employers are putting pressure on a candidate, then what do you think that they are expecting to know?

-More importantly and another and yet the same question also, to promote the best relationship of integrity with whomever the employer ends up being, what would they expect to know about your job search progress?

-A) You are being pressured to take a certain job

-B) You are considering a certain offer

-C) You are interviewing with X number of companies

-D) “Other”

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this.

Sherri

Sherri Douville

Life Sciences Capital Market Insight

I would say that the only relevant information is whether you’re actively interviewing and if you have any impending offer. If the job that you’re interviewing for is the one that you really want, it wouldn’t hurt to say “This sounds like an amazing opportunity and it would certainly be my first choice if you decide that I’m the right candidate.” and then offer to call the hiring manager before accepting any other position.

Try to be open and honest without giving away too much information. On more than one occasion, I’ve passed over a candidate that was shotgunning interviews in favor of the one that wasn’t actively looking but really thought that it was an excellent opportunity to get into the company. On the other hand, I’ve also given preference to a candidate that really needed the job and would appreciate it rather than to the person who was likely to leave in 6 months for greener pastures. In many ways it’s as difficult for the hiring manager as it is for the candidate.

Never lie or exaggerate in an interview. That includes the “offers on the table” and interviewing questions. Don’t volunteer information that’s not relevant. But don’t lie about it. If you’re uncomfortable answering, just say so and decline to answer. Nobody expects total transparency on day one. But they do expect honesty.

I Beleive…

A consultant’s only asset with any long-term value is reputation.

Technologies fall out of favour. Business Processes evolve. Companies are bought and sold. Ultimately, the only asset that a consultant has is their reputation and ethics. Many consultants (and consulting organizations) forget this and focus on the short-term value of inflated billing, placing inexperienced consultants, under-bidding and then running over budget, working on poorly considered client projects, etc. While this short-term approach may be financially profitable, it results in unhappy clients, a bad “street cred” and can ultimately lead to the ruin of the consulting organization or even the client companies.

Communication is at the heart of every successful project

A team that doesn’t communicate well internally, with the customer and with the vendors will fail. The project may be completed, but the results will be less than optimal, the project will be more expensive than required and the ongoing support costs will ultimately be higher. Clients, Management, Vendors and the direct project team need to function as a unified whole to ensure success.

Technology has no inherent value

The only value that technology has is in how it can bring value to the business. Implementing technology for the sake of technology is not only a waste of time and money, but can ultimately be detrimental to the business. Some companies don’t need a web site. Many organizations don’t need to engage in eCommerce. Implementing a multi-million dollar ERP system for a company with $500K worth of revenues isn’t going to magically drop them into the Fortune-50. Regardless of what the “other guys” are doing, your projected ROI (return on investment) should be the main driver behind any new technology initiative.

ROI (Return on Investment) doesn’t always mean direct revenue or cost savings

Your “return” on a project is nothing more or less than “business value”. Laying the groundwork to be able to exploit future opportunities, increasing your organizational agility, improving employee or customer satisfaction are all incredibly valuable to sustaining and growing your business. Many companies destroy their agility and their own futures┬áby not quantifying these “soft benefits” or considering them as important as the hard dollars.

Nobody ever knowingly makes a wrong decision

This statement replaces the traditional “The Customer is Always Right”. If there are two diametrically opposed approaches, chances are that somebody is working with incomplete assumptions or data. By acknowledging that nobody knowingly makes a wrong decision, open communication of the relevant information can uncover where the disconnect has occurred.

If it’s not measured, it’s not managed

Project Management is a science and not an art. Deliverables should be objective, quantified (or at least enumerated in some way) and tracked. If an objective is not measurable, it can’t be tracked or monitored. If it can’t be monitored, it certainly can’t be managed. In many cases, Project Managers encounter deliverables that they feel can’t be objectively measured. If that’s the case, then the deliverable needs to be broken down or redefined to provide a clear set of exit or acceptance criteria. Committments need to be either time-based or event driven. “Whenever” often becomes “Never” or results in a last minute rush with predictably poor results.

Costs should not exceed the expected benefits

A client should clearly understand the benefits of the project, the projected value of these benefits to the organization and the costs of implementation, training and long-term support. If the costs exceed the potential benefits (direct and indirect), the project needs to be restructured or abandoned. Implementing a solution simply for prestige, empire building or billing purposes is irresponsible and unethical and can lead to disastrous long-term results.

Excessive analysis/planning/requirements definition, etc. are as crippling as no analysis/planning/requirements definition.

Most people and organizations are familiar with “Analysis Paralysis”, the inability to make a decision without analyzing every tiny detail, facet, risk, etc. to the exclusion of any real work. The new trend is a form of “Methodology Fundamentalism”, the tendency of an organization to adopt a methodology word-for-word rather than applying it appropriately for the tasks/project at hand. It’s important for everyone to understand the steps and the processes required to manage a project, but it’s equally important to know when the effort required to carry out a task outweighs the benefits. When a team can communicate effectively, there is a natural tendency to want to work using a cascaded development approach. A linear approach is appropriate for some projects, but where a cascade approach is applicable, accepting and embracing it up-front will make for a much more efficient and predictable project.

People shouldn’t be “shoe-horned” into roles as a client “make work” effort or in an attempt to increase billing.

Everyone has their own expertise, knowledge-base, interests and abilities. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to understand where the strengths and interests of each team member lie. Furthermore, it is the PMs responsibility to ensure that everyone is engaged to the best of their abilities and with the best long-term outlook possible. Using resources inappropriately wastes everyone’s time and effort.

Ongoing Documentation is essential

Everyone should be working with the ultimate goal of becoming redundant. It takes very little effort to document throughout the project and revise the documentation as necessary. However, it can be an overwhelming or impossible task to document retroactively.