A Consulting Fundamental – Understanding the Client Environment

As a consultant, you are almost expected to perform miracles. Your clients expect the world and expect to get it right now. Also they expect to pay you as little as possible for the world. In a nutshell client expectations of the consultant are incredibly high.You are dropped into a foreign environment and are expected to “hit the ground running”. You need to be able to assess the environment that you find yourself in at almost “warp” speed. You need to be able to understand who the players are in this environment. You must determine who is who and what they do. You need to uncover what each player’s agenda is and how they perceive you as the interloper, messing around in their sandbox! What each person’s agenda is will help you determine who will help you and who will not.Many employees and executives will see you as a threat to either their authority, their mini fiefdoms that they have carefully built up over the years or even as a threat to their jobs within the corporation. Some will even try to get close to you and try feed you information that they may believe will prove useful to furthering their agendas. Others will throw up roadblocks in an attempt to misdirect you from your task at hand.Over and above this, as the consultant, you will often be caught in the middle of the internal politics of the organization. This is another unenviable position to be placed in.At all times, the consultant must keep his or her focus on the task at hand. What were you hired to do? Stick to that and that alone. The rest of the background noise may or may not help you get the task done, but should not become the focus of you being called in by the client. Utilize the resources available to you within the environment to get your job done, but do not allow the resources within the environment to use you to further their own ends.

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