Being a consultant can be fun; it can also be horrifying hard. Sometimes it's hard because of the work that needs to be done. At other times it's hard because of the people you have to work with and trying to understand their motivation and goals for your presence.
At our most recent PCA meeting, the presenter was Jesan Sorrells of Human Services Consulting And Training. He's also a PCA member. he talked about multiple topics along the lines of his specialty, which is conflict resolution. However, I zeroed in on one particular topic because it felt like it applied to all of us as consultants the most.
The topic was "maintaining neutrality". He spoke about the importance of trying to maintain it and the difficulty in getting there. In essence there were 4 main points he wanted us to consider:
* negotiating with clients hoping you'll pick their side
* resolving conflicts without taking them home with you
* dealing with clients who want to take over your project
* clients who don't know what they want
The only one of these I've never dealt with was the 2nd one. The others... definite consulting fodder. We're always a fine line between succeeding with a consulting contract and getting bounced because of something we did that the client didn't like or offending the client in some way, and often we never find out which one it was. If we're intuitive we will, and sometimes it takes knowing ourselves, figuring out the client, and determining that the best course of action is to get out of the way by firing the client before they fire you.
Everyone's been in that situation. Have you ever followed through?
The main reason we fear firing clients is because of money. Most consultant's don't have a steady stream of clients to the point where they can afford to get rid of one. It's part of the reason we need to remember that we're professionals and that's why we charge the amount of money we do. We need to be seen as the professionals we are, but we also need to protect our future by making enough to sustain us until the next assignment.
Of course there were no easy answers. As we participated in a Q&A session, most of the comments were in agreement with the principles and the sharing of real stories from most of us. Unfortunately, sometimes the best answer anyone can get is identifying an issue and taking the time to think about it as it applies to you so you're not caught off guard when the behaviors pop up.
What are your opinions or stories on the four points above?