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Unethical behaviour

#1 Unethical behaviour
28/02/2007 12:34

Miss Appropriate

Anybody encountered unethical client behaviour during your work? Any countries you have found worse than others?

This isn't some underhand investigation, nor am I gathering information for an article/essay. I'm just curious how much of an issue this is, and how prevalent it is in business life today.

Thanks in advance

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#2 RE: Unethical behaviour
28/02/2007 12:58

anon to Miss Appropriate (#1)

people giving contracts to their mates

people getting me to bid for work in great detail when all they want to do is nick my ideas and methods

people who are supposed to be doing a job but spend their entire working life attending conferences and giving talks in order to increase their own personal profile

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#3 RE: Unethical behaviour
28/02/2007 21:47

hardhat to anon (#2)

Not too easy to generalise about countries unless you do a fair bit of work in them. Even then you have to use your 'instincts' and interact to get some understanding of what is better practice in ethical landscapes, that we are not actually always fully understanding of.

Its not very ethical to moan about clients on here - clients often hire consultants to solve problems.

If that means giving them ethical or non-ethical solutions, then aim to give them ethical ones.

If in doubt give them solutions that are within the law (every time).

If in doubt ask an expert.

I agree with anon's comments and in that order.

Restrictive practices are detrimental longer term. Its very tempting, particularly in smaller firms if times are tough, but in itself it is a very insular and unchallenging habit.

The second point often ends up with some form of wider social justice. If you have to sell an idea that you have a) stolen b) dont understand -then the chances are it is not fully understood or else it would not need to be nicked - it is therefore not likely to work long term.

The third point is quite tedious but I could probably live with it (if it paid well)!

I welcome your question. Are you any the more curious on any of this though?

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#4 RE: Unethical behaviour
01/03/2007 02:10

anon to Miss Appropriate (#1)

Very prevelant. Most of the time, clients hire consultants because things aren't rosy. The biggest barrier to change is people, either blocking change by behaving badly or refusing to go along with a boss who is behaving badly.

Usually, any unethical client behaviour is a feature of their internal politics and something you generally avoid getting involved in. However, if you're a senior seller you may choose/have to play off these politics in order to get in with the right consultancy buyers.

In terms of clients behaving unethically towards the consultant, there are plenty of examples. Not least, is the common situation where the client treats the consultants without respect. This is the "I pay for your time so you're my slave" attitude. This is often passed off as normal, but at the end of the day there's a strong argument that treating anyone in the workplace without basic interpersonal respect, from the CEO to the cleaner, is unethical.

Another example comes when clients put consultants in untenable situations, requiring them to implement unethical decisions or feeding them misinformation to force the outcome of the consultants' recommendations towards unpopular decisions that the client does not want to be seen making themselves.

A third example is where clients invent or purposely create problems in order to abuse the rework option and demand work outside the agreed project scope.

Then there are those clients who demand extra work, but never quite get around to signing off the change of scope agreement and subsequently refuse to pay their bills.

This isn't meant to sound like consultant/client relationships are all in the style of "us vs. them". You have to give clients leeway and understand that, if they had high calibre, smart, motivated, engaged, honest, hardworking and professional staff on the case, they wouldn't need to pay for outside help. Part of the client need is to have consulting staff come in who model the behaviours the client wants their own staff to adopt.

Even when the client is being a tw*t you have to remain professional. But part of the consulting role is to offer advice proactively when we spot a need. Sometimes that advice has to be, "your behaviour is compromising the value and quality of your organisation, please leave or we won't continue working with you".

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