The Aloof Consultant

Aloof Consultant
The Aloof Consultant

I once had a new consultant join my team who entered the client site as if he owned the place.  He was expected to share a cubicle with a fellow consultant but refused.

“I need a desk to myself to spread out.” He exclaimed.  In fact, he lobbied to get an office with a door to himself.  The client’s managers didn’t even have such a perk.

An aloof consultant

That was just the beginning.  This aloof consultant claimed to be a database expert and criticized every aspect of the client’s database design that was different from his own design preferences.

He didn’t last long.  My firm recognized the problem early.  They tried working with him to no avail.  The client’s patience with him wore thin quickly.  As soon as we could find a replacement for him, he was removed from the project.  The firm tried working with him further on his attitude, even experimenting with non-client-facing assignments, but they finally ended up letting him go.  His arrogance cost the firm more than they could reap from his skills

Client focus

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written at length about clients that mistreat consultants.  I felt it was time to address the other side of the coin.

Clients that pay high hourly consulting rates sometimes demand and complain to the point of making a consultant’s life miserable. The consultant often feels they have no other choice but to grin and bear it.

But why would a client take the same grief from a consultant?

Why put up with an aloof consultant?

Sometimes a consultant has a deep knowledge base of the client’s business that the client feels is indispensible.  The client may be willing to put up with an arrogant attitude to yield the benefits of the knowledge they get from a specific external consultant. They justify that it’s the price of a knowledgeable advisor.

Still in other scenarios, the consultant is placed on a pedestal like a rock star and the client is too star struck to recognize it.  This “Charlie Sheen Syndrome” causes some clients to feel as though the consultant is arrogant because he is so good.  Or maybe they think he’s good because he’s so arrogant.

But even if the client puts up with a conceited “rock star” consultant, they may be willing to put up with him for just the minimum of work they feel they need him for.

They may be going to the consultant’s competition for other consulting services when there is a more down-to-earth alternative.

And for every aloof consultant who gets his share of clients, there are many others who either don’t get work or don’t get as much as they could, if it weren’t for their condescending approach to the client.

Client expectations

Clients usually pay premium rates for consultants.  In return, they should expect to receive valuable knowledge or services.  A consultant should be confident in their delivery of those professional services, but spare the client the brazen attitude.

See my related post: Dealing with a Condescending Client

It’s good for the client, good for the relationship and just good business.

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. 

Related Posts
Is Consulting Worth It?
My daughter is a junior in high school and in the process of investigating colleges.  In a parallel effort, I’m in the process of investigating how to maximize her ability ...
READ MORE
How to Create Your Personal Brand
Early in my career, I worked for a small consulting firm as a software developer. I liked the company and I like the work.  I had a very supportive manager.  ...
READ MORE
The Difficult Client Types
I've worked in very few organizations that didn’t have a jerk or two walking around.  Over the years I’ve learned to deal with them. In the one situation where the jerk was ...
READ MORE
Airing the Consulting Firm’s Dirty Laundry
I was once at a client where I had developed an excellent relationship with one of their employees. We got to the point where we began going to lunch on ...
READ MORE
What My Dad Taught Me About Consulting
My father passed away in 1990.  After that, Fathers Days were a bit sad for me for a couple years, until I began celebrating them as a father instead of a son. In ...
READ MORE
Do You Build New Systems or Maintain Old Ones?
If you’re like me, you don’t’ like to put a lot of money into your home for maintenance.  To me, there’s just not a lot of gratification to maintenance. For example, ...
READ MORE
Make Yourself Indispensable
Unless you’re an undertaker, repeat business should always be your goal.  Whether you are an independent consultant or serving on a large project from a large firm, your main goal ...
READ MORE
Follow Through – Just Go To Benson
I grew up attending a small school district which was the consolidation of two small towns.  What is nowadays called middle school was called junior high school back then.  The ...
READ MORE
7 Things to Do When a Project Ends
There comes a time in every consulting project when the project ends for a consultant, normally known as “rolling off”. Consultants are, by nature, temporary workers.  The end of the gig ...
READ MORE
A Consulting Limerick
A man tried a career in consulting But his approach with clients was insulting He was arrogant and rude With the clients he’d feud And they found him to be quite revolting   The firm chose ...
READ MORE
Is Consulting Worth It?
How to Create Your Personal Brand
The Difficult Client Types
Airing the Consulting Firm’s Dirty Laundry
What My Dad Taught Me About Consulting
Do You Build New Systems or Maintain Old
Make Yourself Indispensable
Follow Through – Just Go To Benson
7 Things to Do When a Project Ends
A Consulting Limerick