If you took a poll of your employees or outside vendors, would they place a high degree of trust and satisfaction in their relationship with you? How would you rate the relationship you have with them? Are agreements fair and does each person keep their commitments?

The Vendor Client Relationship- in real world situations focuses on how relationships can break down quickly if either side abuses the tenets of doing business together. This applies to how we treat our internal customers (employees) too.

How your organization conducts business with others is a direct reflection of the ethics and behavior of your employees. The management has a responsibility to define and be role models of these behaviors. If you work in a company where there are two sets of rules, one for how we treat each other internally and a second for how we treat others externally; it might be a good time re-evaluate whether or not the company embraces the essence of a positive culture.

Here are a few of the types of individuals or situations which raise the yellow or red flag when working together:

The Bait and Switcher

A bait and switch occurs when someone makes an agreement for a level of service at a given price or with certain terms and then tries to upgrade or get extras free.

Examples of this could include expansion of the project parameters, changes in the benefits, and lack of follow through to provide support, failure to meet agreement terms, etc. Consider, the manager who gives an employee a project with a definitive time line and then decides to increase the project’s deliverable by ten fold with the same time and resource constraints.

No one likes to feel taken advantage of – be clear about the expectations and outcomes before signing on the dotted line or sealing the deal with a handshake. If requirements change, be flexible and realistic on what is feasibly possible.

The Sneak

The side stepper or sneak is someone who attempts to avoid paying for services rendered – by conveniently forgetting to acknowledge the vendor or person’s role in the service. This type behavior is sometimes difficult to uncover.

Unlike many agreements where there is payment for a specified service over a short time, this bad behavior arises more in ongoing agreements. Unless the organization is being honest, you will be unaware of their attempt to avoid recognizing your contribution – simply because someone conveniently forgets to keep you in the loop.

For example, Company X uses a recruiter to help with hiring employees and has an ongoing agreement with the Company to pay a fee for placement. The recruiter introduces several candidates to the Company for open positions and places them successfully. A couple of months later, the client contacts one of the alternate candidates and asks them in to interview without contacting the recruiter. The Company implies to the candidate that the interview is confidential and they want to hire them independently of the recruiter.

As a potential employee, it might be wise to consider the prospective employer’s behavior; it is likely an indication of how they manage their employees too.

The Re-negotiator

Once both parties have reached an agreement and all the work is completed; one company attempts to renegotiate the fees after the fact. Typically, the renegotiation is not due to lack of performance, it is simply they just don’t want to pay the price they initially agreed to. There are times when renegotiation is necessary; however, this behavior becomes the norm rather than the exception.

Let us look at an employee situation. A manager may have promised an employee a bonus or promotion after upon finishing a significant project. Once complete, the manager is unable to secure what they promised, so they offer a slight bump in pay to appease the employee. The employee takes what they can get, because they don’t want to upset the manager.

The Hostage Holder

A bully company or co-worker often does this type of behavior.

Two companies agree upon services for a project. The company receiving the services decides to withhold paying the vendor; creating a position of power. In an effort to stay in the good graces of the company, the vendor continues to provide services, hoping to receive payment. The vendor does not cut off future service, fearing it will hurt their chances of getting paid. Unfortunately, the vendor is digging a deeper hole.

Employees readily see this behavior in bosses who promise to deliver increases, promotions, transfers or other perks and never deliver. There is always the next project or hurdle for you to meet before you are eligible for consideration for the opportunity. Constant non-delivery promises or follow through on actions are a clear sign of the hostage holder.


Sometimes we are not able to avoid these relationships completely.

The first step is to recognize the relationship and understand how the relationship gets set up in the first place. Try to avoid getting into the situation if possible.

If you are in the middle of a situation, work to minimize the negative affects or outcomes.

It might take some planning to find a graceful exit, especially if it is a client or employer relationship. You might have to have a difficult discussion with them to resolve it.