Home > Managing Consultants > How Not to Annoy Your Consulting Manager

How Not to Annoy Your Consulting Manager

Apropos of nothing other than as a counterpoint to Mark’s post, allow me to present behaviors consultants should avoid so as not to annoy their managers and teammates:

Assume Every Decision Management Makes is Stupid 

The managers’ of a firm often have a different perspective on a situation because they often have more or different information than the consulting team.  So, if a manager decides to give away some time to an unhappy customer, it may not be because they are spineless – they may know of a pending software sale, reference requirement or renewal enhancement that you don’t know about.

Complain and Not Offer A Solution

Consultants of all stripes like to grouse.  Like our enlisted counterparts in the military, complaining about management, clients, work, etc is just part of the “over a beer” conversation at the end of the day.  But, if you have a real complaint, don’t complain – instead, make a positive, thoughtful suggestion on how to improve the process.  Don’t forget to include some thought on cost\benefit, i.e.:  how will it benefit the firm and its clients.

Perfect Clarity is Impossible – Live with It

Sometimes, not everything is black and white and perfectly clear cut.  You will be asked to go onsite for a day because there’s a problem, but its not well scoped and defined.  You will work projects where the scope has to change or isn’t perfectly clear.  You will work with clients that don’t perfectly understand how to work with IT consultants.  Accept it and understand that you got assigned by your team to these situations because they trust your skills – take the assignment and do your best.

Manage Your Career

The company exists to provide the best possible service to clients and to make money for the investors by doing so.  Helping you develop your career is part of what a good firm should do, but the managers WILL AND SHOULD always do it in the context of the firm’s mission not your best interests.   You are responsible for taking the initiative to learn new skills, new modules and developing yourself professionally.  If you haven’t spent anytime in the last year to learn something new, don’t complain that no one told you what to learn – this is your failing and will result in you being marginalized in your firm.

Blame Everyone Else

If something goes wrong, and you had a hand in it, acknowledge the problem swiftly, take responsibility immediately, and ask for help REALLY fast if you don’t know how to fix it.  Don’t avoid, don’t blame and don’t hold the grenade.  A clear objective explanation of a problem, a suggestion to fix it, and a request for help gets things solved with less drama, less cost and more respect for you than hiding, avoiding and blaming.

A final point.  Mark is one of the five finest consultants with whom I have ever worked and does nothing of the above.  Well, except for assuming I am stupid.  However, he shares that assumption with my daughters, so I can’t blame him for that.

Categories: Managing Consultants
  1. June 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I actually do all of those things, I just make sure to do them less frequently than other consultants.


  2. Dwight Specht
    June 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I actually did alot of the first and second when I first started but managed to avoid almost all of the other stuff (except for blaming Mark for anything that went wrong on any project to which he was assigned). I finally realized that my category 1 and 2 behaviors (think mgt is stupid and complaining) said more about me than anyone else and I stopped.


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