Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
January 28, 2008
Kicked Upstairs; Better
Than Kicked Out the Door
should have seen this coming. Our longtime client contact got promoted
to Director of Corporate Transformation.
Curtains for him. Probably curtains for us.
This is one of those accounts of which every company probably has a few.
You’ve had it forever, and if you’re to be honest, you’d have to admit
that you’re basically coasting on it.
That may not be your fault, entirely or at all. It takes two to make an
engagement work for both companies, and if the client isn’t optimizing
the value of your services, your ability to make those services pay off
for them is going to be limited.
But it’s amazing how long you can sometimes coast on one of these
accounts. And when it happens, it’s usually because the person in charge
of you on the client side has started phoning it in. Frank’s been doing
this for years. I knew it. He’s got 45 years with the company. He still
gives stuff to a secretary to type. Then he asks her to print it and
route it to people in manila envelopes.
didn’t even think they still made those things! Actually, I don’t think
they do. The ones Frank uses smell like 1971, and that’s not
exactly mint and patchouli.
Frank does what he does – the same things he’s always done. And one of
those things is signing off on my invoices. He also approves the work we
do on his company’s behalf. Whether he actually looks at any of it, I
can’t say for sure. He hasn’t made a specific comment about any of it in
the 12 years I’ve worked on the account – which predated the founding of
my company by four years.
e-mail the material to his secretary, who prints it out and puts it on
his desk, then he calls me to tell me it’s OK (unless he has her do it).
I honestly don’t know if Frank has taken any of our recent work and done
with it what we intended him to do with it. I just know our bills get
did, until now.
Krause? This is Beth Thompson from Owens,” said Beth Thompson from
Owens. “I’d like to sit down with you and get caught up on what your
company has been doing for us.”
Beth,” I said. “I’d be glad to. Did Frank ask you to call me?”
Now, I may
be dumb but I’m not stupid. I could already tell what was up, and I had
seen this coming. Frank had taken to complaining about how he wasn’t
invited to management meetings anymore. (I would kill not to be
invited to management meetings!) It wasn’t hard to see they were
squeezing him out. I just hoped they didn’t send security to watch him
clean out his office and escort him from the building.
has been promoted,” Beth explained.
Promoted. After 45 years? To what?”
going to be our new Director of Corporate Transformation.”
have pushed it and asked, “What does that mean?” but I already knew what
it meant. It meant the company doesn’t want Frank around anymore, but
they don’t have the heart to kick him out the door, so they kicked him
upstairs to a bigger office where he can twiddle his thumbs.
Conventional wisdom is that this is the chicken’s way out because it
doesn’t save you any money. Conventional wisdom is wrong.
Beth, I’ll be glad to sit down and bring you up to speed on what we’ve
been doing for you,” I said.
said. “Can you bring any activity reports, actual work output and the
corresponding billing records?”
“Absolutely!” I said in an excited tone of voice.
very excited to work with you!” she said.
toast. I knew it and she knew it. I thought about just skipping the
formalities telling Beth to just go ahead and fire us, but out of
respect to Frank, I went through the motions.
probably 10 vendors just like us that got the axe. So don’t tell me they
didn’t save money by kicking Frank upstairs! I stopped by to see him
after the meeting with Beth.
How’s the new director of transcendental meditation job?”
I guess, but I can’t get anyone to tell me exactly what I’m supposed to
do, D.F. They want me to learn e-mail. Right now I’m just trying to get
that down. How do you think you’ll like working with Beth?”
Frank. It just won’t be the same.”
Transformations never are.
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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