When Your Partner Doesn’t Get It

Man and Woman TalkingAs many of you know, my company launched a new division to help people navigate their health journey through advocacy. In developing the company, we realized that we needed a couple of key partners to get this accomplished and I wanted to elaborate on the behavior of one because their handling of a situation is interesting to me.

The vendor bid on our project and mentioned that they would be willing to do it almost for free because they were not busy and needed the work for their team. We realized that letting them take the project on for free would not work and agreed on a fair price.

The project was moving along for about three weeks before the company had a huge bid accepted for another job. We realized our project would get less attention and continued to support our vendor’s activities even though they were not moving as quickly as we wanted.

The vendor scheduled weekly status meetings where instead of discussing project related issues, we were given their company’s CV and how much a larger company would have charged for this project. This went on for about 8 weeks before the vendor decided to let us know that we were a low priority for the firm now that they were busy, and they would only work on the project when they could fit it in.

We told the vendor we appreciated their honesty, and would it be possible to have the project back since we need it finished. What happened next was appalling. To date we have received 6 emails scathing our company and me personally because we did not want them to finish the project. One email asked, “How dare I?” and another questioned my integrity and loyalty- funny considering they fired us. Then we received an email saying basically they had to finish the project because of how it was developed as if the other 6 emails were never sent.

While we are still working through this, I found several best practices were ignored. The first was be careful what you put in writing. If I was more vindictive, I could have posted these emails and in effect would have ruined their company. Limit your communications to the pertinent facts in a case. Flying off the handle does not achieve anything positive.

The second is honor your commitment or work towards a compromise as soon as possible. Once the vendor took on the new job, we should have been given the option of dealing with a slower timeline or taking our project elsewhere. Or the vendor should have worked quickly to get our project off their plate. Lamenting that they were not making money on the project and insulting us was not the solution.

The third lesson is on my end- be careful who you decide to give a break to. Our collective guts told us that the vendor would be able to handle the project, but it would be painful. Boy, were we right. We liked them at their initial meetings and figured we were helping them as much as they were helping us. We were so wrong there.

Honest communication between and within both companies may have helped avoid this situation. Both companies wanted to help each other, but their vision of help couldn’t be more different.

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