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Why being truly objective makes a difference

Ever been to couples’ counselling? I have. Believe me, it can never, ever work if the counsellor is being paid by just one party or has a biased view on life. Both parties must be 100% confident in the counsellor’s absolute neutrality and the processes involved. It’s essential to know there’s no hidden agenda – the only outcome you’re looking for is a much better partnership.

A few years ago, I developed a standard dinner-party answer for the ‘what do you do’ question. People would say to me, “What line of work are you in?” And I’d reply, “I’m a marriage guidance counsellor for businesses, helping two teams become stronger, more effective partners.”  

This simple philosophy – we’re here to provide a neutral, objective service – is a founding principle within Greengrass. It’s about listening carefully to both parties. Surfacing the unspoken, often unseen issues that are holding you back. Delivering those challenging truths when they’re needed most – and being resolutely, absolutely, 100% even-handed,

Agencies and clients can’t be objective – but it’s not their fault

We’re all guilty of interpreting issues through our own eyes. We start with our own experiences, our own preconceptions, and what we think the outcome should be. It’s about what we want most, rather than what’s likely to be best for us all. We’re only human.

Teams that are working together in an agency/client relationship, and their respective management, often struggle to find ways of working that aren’t inherently biased. Each unwittingly hides the truth from each other. Indeed, even today in the era of ‘disrupt everything!’, agencies are very likely to put a positive spin on things and tell their clients what they want to hear – to make the relationship work. And marketing teams leave it up to the agency to change their ways of working. without appreciating how much they’re the ones causing the issues.

However, this is marriage guidance, not a dating agency…

We don’t act as an intermediary for pitches. That’s not what we do. Nor do we make recommendations on which agencies have a particular style or way of working.

All of our clients benefit from Greengrass’s pure focus: we work on team performance of the moment and relationship improvement for the future.

Third parties must be balanced and independent

We have nothing to gain and everything to lose by de-stabilising teams. We have everything to lose and nothing to gain by being partisan in our approach.

While I was working with Aprais, I always recommended that services be paid for by both the agency and the marketing company. This was so in 90% of cases. It makes the job tougher and more demanding, as it means we can never, ever take sides – nor are we tempted to do so – but the net outcome is reassuring for everyone involved: we can never be accused of following the money when we’re presenting back our advice.

Today, this is how we still work at Greengrass. It’s about balance. It’s about objectivity.

We have client-side and agency experience, and we have agencies and marketing companies paying our bills. This way, we can maintain our all-important, balanced, and neutral perspective.

We don’t answer to clients – we find answers to the problem

Good, balanced, objective third-party advisors must be hard-wired to address issues, find the answers to the specific problem, and to serve the challenge rather than the commissioning paymaster.

Libby Child

Founder Greengrass

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