excerpt from Chapter 3 of Becoming an Online Business Manager
I have a coaching client who has been in business for over four years now, and has a number of people on her team who have worked with her that entire time. We were talking recently about ways that she can get out of the day-to-day needs of her business so she can focus more on growth activities. I asked about the current people on her team and whether any of them might be ready to take on a bigger role within her business. Her response:
“There is one girl I’ve worked with for years who does a great job, but she always refers to it as ‘your business.’ For example she will say ‘Here is an update for YOUR webpage’ or ‘What do YOU want to do here.’ Never does she say OUR, US or WE when talking about the work we do together, even after all these years. So I don’t get the sense that she really cares about my business”
Can you see what my client is saying here? The words that her team member is using are drawing a line between her client’s business and the work she is doing for her client. She isn’t really showing that she is engaged or invested in the work.
This is such an interesting distinction! On one hand I totally get why this is happening – after all, it isn’t the team members business, so why should she act as though it is? This is how most contractors (and employees) act with our clients (and employers). We draw a line in the sand between the two of us, and I believe that’s in order to keep ourselves safe from the impact our work has on our client’s business.
We’re not going to get deep into the psychology of why this happens, but I would really like to challenge this status quo way of working.
When a client hires us to work with them and contribute to their business in some way, it truly is a collaborative effort. Whether it’s doing their filing or helping them create a new product line, the end result is created together. While the client may own that result, energetically you are a part of it as well.
Take a look at the words you use when talking to or about your clients. Are you saying YOURS or OURS? YOU or WE? Pay attention to what you are saying or typing over the next few days, and make note of it.
I challenge you to start using more inclusive language and pay attention to how that feels. Does it make you uncomfortable? If so, dig a little bit into that and see what’s up. Perhaps you need to do a bit of personal work to feel comfortable with this level of engagement. It could be you feel you don’t deserve it, or perhaps you truly don’t have confidence in the work you do. Or maybe there is an issue with the client that you need to face. This can be a tough process indeed, but don’t be afraid to shine that light on what is going on behind the scenes.
Being plugged in as a part of your client’s business is absolutely essential to working in an OBM capacity. If you aren’t able to do that then this may not be the best role for you.