You’ve probably heard, over and over, this common saying that’s been passed down from generation to generation:
“You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”
This age-old saying is true in dealing with people as well as flies, and especially true when dealing with outsourced companies that help your business with a variety of functions.
Over the last eight years of working in a business setting, I’ve met a lot of people – the good, the bad, and ugly (not physically); all have taught me valuable lessons. More importantly, in working with all types of clients, I learned amazing lessons about the ways we treat people and how that affects the ways they work with and for us.
Here are some important things to consider for the “honey approach” versus the “vinegar approach”:
What did you say again?
One of the main areas the “honey” approach is most effective is during communication about projects and deadlines. Working with clients who are more kind in their communication creates an atmosphere where understanding is the goal. With clients who explain their expectations clearly with the honey approach, everyone is more willing to listen carefully and seek to understand. With the vinegar approach, however, clients seem annoyed or belligerent, moving the focus away from communication and more into digesting the negative energy that accompanies short tempers.
When working with a developer or agency (or any outsourced worker), it’s important to treat them with respect, from setting expectations to expressing dissatisfaction. Dealing with impatient, snippy clients leads individuals to lose focus, get frustrated and, instead of focusing on the work, feel that criticism is a personal attack.
Depending on the person receiving the vinegar, they can be so affected by the attack – perceived or real – that they’ll no longer want to maintain a relationship with you. Although you may not be told this in such terms, their overall attitude will change, causing ruptures in the relationship that will increase over time.
Tip: Avoid speaking strictly from emotion. Communicate your expectations clearly and, if expectations aren’t met, communicate that in a professional manner without yelling or using belittling words. People are more receptive to criticism when it’s delivered constructively.
‘Done’ and ‘Well Done’ are not the same
The team that gets to work with the “honey” clients gets so excited and passionate about the clients’ success that they go above and beyond. They come in early and leave late, research as much as possible, involve other colleagues, and get advice, all in the interest of figuring out new and exciting ways to service that client. Such is the magic of “HONEY.” (Winnie Pooh sure knew what he was doing!)
Take the time to build a connection with your account manager, developer, designer. People care about people and if you are respectful, genuine, and caring, others will want to work harder for you. If you’re a history fan, you’ve heard of Julius Caesar. If you haven’t, he was one of the most successful conquerors of all time and one of the reasons for his success, as told by historians, was his power to inspire men to sacrifice everything for the sake of following him. (His famous fighting tactic of leading from the front didn’t hurt either – he expected nothing from his men that he wasn’t willing to do himself.)
Although we’re not suggesting you do anything so extreme, the truth is that the team you hire will follow your lead. If you’re caring and engaged and “lead from the front,” you’ll prove to be a great leader and even an outsourced team will go to bat for you. In my personal experience, when clients are engaged and care about the work we’re doing for them and recognize its value, our team is significantly more excited about getting great results – even beyond those contracted.
They won’t just get it done, they’ll do the work exactly like I like my steak: very well done. And that can be the difference between accomplishing your goals and exceeding all your expectations.
Free things come to those who honey
Although you may have a contract that specifies the scope of work someone will be executing for you, the fact is that when people like you, they’re usually willing to do more for you than expected. Being an awesome client comes with some rewards.
Not only will employees sometimes be willing to give their personal time to complete something for you, they’ll also consistently find ways to make your life easier and, although this is true of good companies who care about their clients in general, you cannot underestimate the power of personal connections.
For example: we had an excellent rapport with a client who left after deciding to hire someone internally. This client never revoked our analytics access, so when we were notified that there was an increase in their website errors, we contact them and offered to remove the errors at no cost. Even though this client was no longer actually a client, we had had a great working relationship and our team had a great deal of appreciation for them, so we were happy to be able to help someone we really cared about – even if it wasn’t a client. (The honey approach wins again!)
Ultimately, your grandma was right! Honey > vinegar. Never forget that although we’re professionals, we’re people first, and the relationships we build with each other matter more than anything written on paper. At Leading Results, we like to think of ourselves as connectors. Our purpose is to enable entrepreneurs and individuals to change the world by doing what they do best, and we support this goal by connecting the movers and shakers with the people whose lives they are going to change. An outsider may see this as just marketing, but for us it’s a lot more than that.
When we find a client, we think of them as a partner and we work to strengthen the areas where they are weak and support them during times of need. Due to the closeness of the relationships we build with our customers, it’s especially important to reach good levels of communication and be able to adequately understand, support, and respect each other. We value our staff as much as we value our clients and firmly believe that the best work – the world-changing work, the work we define in our purpose – can only be achieved through the honey approach.
Ok, shameless pitch over. (Although we do have a great team!) Whomever you choose to work with, just remember that if you lead with kindness and apply the golden rule, chances are good that you’ll get a lot more buy-in from your team and maybe even a couple of freebies thrown your way because when people like you they go the extra mile for you!