It happens every once in a while. A consultant is working with their project team and sometime during the project, the account manager speaks with the consultant and informs them that they are being rolled off of the project.
Reasons for a removal from a client
It can happen to ineffective consultants and they don’t usually last long with the firm. But sometimes, the person just doesn’t mesh with the team or the client. I’ve seen consultants taken off of projects for a number of reasons. Perhaps they:
- Talk too much
- Don’t talk enough
- Dress funny
- Handed in a task late
- Didn’t appear focused in a meeting
- Didn’t reply to an email on time
- Looked at the CEO funny
It has amazed me throughout my career that top-level executives, who had the strength and perseverance to get to that level are as sensitive and insecure as they sometimes are. I knew of one CEO who wanted a consultant removed from the project because he didn’t push all the chairs back neatly to the conference table after a meeting.
When removal from a client occurs due to client request, it’s not necessarily the end of your consulting career. Firms understand that you can’t please everyone all of the time. If it happens more than once, they may see it as a trend and deal with it as a performance issue.
Removal from a client as planned
Sometimes, it happens in the natural course of the project. A large project can go from several months in duration to a couple of years. Different skills are needed at different times in a project so people are swapped out of projects based on the matching of their skill set and the skills needed at the time. The firm may decide that your work on the project is near enough to completion that someone else can pick it up. They may need you for another client project or to work on a proposal.
Project economics may also play a role. Some projects are sold as ‘Fixed-bid’, meaning the firm receives a set amount in fees and must deliver the project while trying to burn as few consultant hours as possible to maintain their target profit margin. Fixed bid projects are often run on a tight budget. Depending on your billing rate, they may want to get you off of the project as soon as possible to ease up the budget.
Very few people serve on a project from beginning to end. Project managers are even switched out from time to time. Rolling off of a project is a natural occurrence that can happen for any number of reasons – good or bad.
If you are taken off of a project due to a client issue, the firm may say something to you. They may wait to see if it is a recurring issue or just an anomaly. It’s always best to try to find out the real reason you’ve been taken off of a project, but it’s not always for a bad reason or anything within your control.
Have you ever been removed from a client? What was the reason?
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.