How Do I Avoid Badmouthing My Company?

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I work for a very large organization, and recently we’ve had a few missteps in a number of areas. Nothing compliance-related, but we’ve lost some good people, changed the focus for our target market and sunset a few products our clients enjoyed investing in. My role has become “bearer of bad news” or on good days, “agent of change”. It’s hard to go into the market time after time and let clients know we are onto something new – again.

My clients trust me, my relationships are very solid, and I haven’t lost any assets with those changes. But I have a pain in my stomach every time I read a new internal missive saying something else is happening that is new and different.

Is there a graceful way to explain to clients I’m not the person making these decisions, and that I understand the impact, without betraying my firm and aligning fully with clients? I think there is risk in both sides. I don’t want to badmouth my firm, because if they are “bad” per se, then why am I still here? And if I don’t acknowledge what’s happening and the impact on clients, they might think I am out of touch and don’t recognize these things do have a ripple effect on their lives.

I’m sure this isn’t the first you’ve heard this sort of dilemma. I am interested in how you recommend dealing with it and how others in similar situations dealt with it. I am not inclined to leave my employer for several reasons that aren’t relevant here, so that isn’t a choice point for me.