OK everyone, pair up. It’s time for the three-legged potato sack race. Ready…Set…Go!
I think we all know the key to running a successful potato sack race is to work together with your partner. Should one person decide not to participate, you are done, and stuck dragging dead weight as you fight to finish. It just won’t work unless there is cooperation and agreement on where you are headed.
Fast forward from your elementary school field day to now. Picture yourself, now a grown up, working for a living.
I’m going to go out on a ledge here and I assume most of you have experienced a situation that involved dragging dead weight or, at minimum, working with someone who is only interested in his or her way to achieve a goal. If you haven’t, well, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
Perhaps you have been in a situation involving a client you are promoting. You know there is a good story there, but the client is strictly tasking with one-way direction. Regardless of your efforts, no healthy dialogue is taking place. Will you effectively achieve your client’s goals? Most likely you will not. Consider your options and turn that working “for” situation into a working “with” relationship.
Unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t possible to work “with” a client and that’s when you may want to weigh your options and decide the best course of action. That could range from implementing the tasks as requested to resigning the account.
A resource for effectively handling these negative situations is Alan Cohen’s book, Those Difficult Talks for PR Pros™: How Best to Say What Needs to be said to Clients, Colleagues and Employees.
I attended a session that Cohen moderated at the PRSA 2012 Michigan Conference (CommLab 2012) that highlighted questions we face as PR pros and exercises that can help us prepare for such difficult talks. Cohen recommended looking at the big picture of any scenario and taking into account our own personal values in life.
What did I take away from the discussion? It’s not necessary to work in a negative atmosphere. Consider the situation, discuss it with your team, examine your personal beliefs and your company’s culture, and then make a decision.
Once you do, hop back in that potato sack with a partner and finish that three-legged race together.