Sometimes they just don't like you (or your work)
Hey, it's been a year now, and I'm so over it, but sometimes you take on a job and they just don't like you or your work . And that's what happened to me with this one client-not-to-be.
A good friend was working "there", and she introduced me to the "thems" who were looking for someone who could analyze data and report on it.
Right up my alley.
Or so I thought. And so "they" initially thought, as well.
Under tight deadline, they had me work on my first report. Unfortunately, the report was not a written report, but, instead, a PowerPoint preso in which the formatting and visuals were of equal, if not greater, importance than the content.
I spent a completely agonizing weekend - spending twice as many hours as I'd been told it should take - slapping the thing into shape.
And hating every moment. Not to mention muttering under my breath, this project is going to be so not worth it. On an ongoing basis, it was going to suck up one weekend a month. While I was sure I'd get a little speedier, there was never going to be more than small amounts of time to really get into the content analysis - thinking and writing about the information. Sure, I know that looks matter, but here was a project that was never going to play to my strengths or interests.
Knowing that I wasn't likely hitting the mark with my initial attempt, I sent my trial report in a couple of days early, noting that it was a very rough, preliminary draft, and asking for a walkthrough to get some feedback. (All the while, thinking to myself: on a flat rate basis, this will end up paying not much more than I'd make as a WalMart greeter.)
Nary a word.
Meanwhile, the "real" deadline for the project was looming, and, canny and experienced pro that I am, I knew that that they weren't all that happy with what I'd shown them.
Alas, the manager I was working with was very young and very inexperienced, and apparently had no clue whatsoever how to let me know this.
There are any number of methods I could have recommended:
- The let-me-down-gently we've decided to take another route on this project.
- The straightforward you've completely missed the boat: this mess is unacceptable.
- The hybrid this is not quite what we're looking for; we'll let you know if there's anything else we'd like you to do.
Whichever approach she took, in this day and age it's all made so much easier by the use of the e-mail rejection - there's not even any need for any face to face, or even phone to ear, confrontation.
I finally cornered the young manager-in-the-making, who was clearly and uncomfortably surprised that I was actually on the other end of the phone saying, "Since you didn't get back to me, the report was either fine, or you had some real problems with it. And I'm guessing the latter."
I heard her gulp, and she told me what she liked, and hemmed and hawed on the parts she didn't like.
Within hours, I had an e-mail from her manager, telling me that they'd done some reorganizing, and they weren't going to be using an outside resource on this project. It was the classic let-me-down-gently blah-di-blah.
I was not surprised, of course. And I was mostly relieved. (Remember: I had hated nearly every moment I was working on it, and had been telling myself that a regular diet of this type of work was going to be a real drag.)
But I was also, of course, a bit shocked. I'm really not used to my clients disliking what I do for them.
And I was also, of course, a bit insulted. Who did this young pip-squeak think she was rejected the great smart me?
In truth, there are plenty of times when I don't get the job. Plans change. Budgets get cut. Contacts move on. Needs shift. They've found someone who's a better fit.
But I've never gotten a nipped-in-the-bud rejection based on not having done a bang-up job.
And I hope never to get one again.
But sometimes, hey, "they" just don't like you or your work.
And I'm guessing that, in most of those circumstances, you're not all that wild about "them" and their work, either.