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#404: Be Professional When Discussing Other Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 30, 2010
Updated: Thursday, September 30, 2010
I have run across a consulting firm in my market that does really awful work. I don't mean just low quality, but that provides advice that I believe is harmful to clients. Shouldn't I say something about them to my clients so they are forewarned?

Tread carefully. You are in possession of "information" about this consulting firm's work based on your perception of the quality of work and value to clients. Three points. First, you may possess the experience and perspective to effectively evaluate whether or not this consultant is right for you to work with. However, it is up to each client to evaluate the qualifications, experience and chemistry of a consultant. You may be dead right, but it is not for you to say.

Second, do not make the mistake of badmouthing this firm. As the expression goes, "Nobody raises their reputation by lowering that of others." Provide factual information but don't pass judgment (out loud).

Finally, there is an obvious conflict of interest in judging other consultants, especially in the context of consideration for engagements. If a prospect asks you about a colleague, your answer implicitly alters the relative judgment about you, raising ethical questions and the appearance, if not fact, of a conflict.

Tip: This conflict is especially serious when a prospect asks you for the names of several other consultants with similar expertise to evaluate. The appearance of a conflict is that you could easily recommend higher priced or lower quality colleagues to improve your chances of winning the engagement. Explain this to the prospect and just say that you can't provide specific recommendations.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  ethics  publicity  reputation 

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Jennifer Leake CMC says...
Posted Saturday, October 02, 2010
Interestingly, this tip runs counter to the correct answer in the CMC Ethics exam. It states you SHOULD give them 3 recommendations for a client to evaluate. Answering as this tip suggests marks you wrong.
I have voiced my disagreement over this question, so . . . which is correct from an ethics viewpoint in IMC USA's mind?
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