Consultant Thursdays: What Are The Cardinal Sins Of A Consultant?

How we deal with clients and how they view our professionalism is sometimes more important than what we know, especially in the field of User Experience where our knowledge is treated at about the same level as a fortune teller. I’ve told some of my reports that likable and professional is more billable than  knowledgeable.

I asked this question over at LinkedIn (I’ve grown to like the site, and it really is a powerful networking tool). I’m going to publish some of the answers every week, and you can respond to them, or not. Sometimes the answers will repeat — my apoligies. I will give credit where credit is due, and I’m going to try to live by some of these.

This was submitted by Anurag Purohit:

This is a piece by a former Accenture consultant that I often use to set the basics right. These are the things a consultant can do right. Conversely, not following these basics will land consultant in a soup:

  • Always travel on your own time, not client time.
  • Always dress one notch better than client’s do. Dressing the same or worse than clients is sure to draw unneeded attention to you.
  • Concise, frank, honest communication will win more client loyalty and referrals over time than evasion, obfuscation or avoidance will ever net.
  • Never accept work that is unnecessary or work you are not qualified to complete. Smart consultants stick to their core competencies.
  • Always keep the big picture in mind. Just because the arrangement letter says one thing, doesn’t mean you should blindly follow it.
  • Always be a diplomat. I try hard to understand everyone’s viewpoint but, in the end, when the CEO or client sponsor wants to know my findings, I have to give them. I state the facts. I give clients facts and unless specifically asked for my opinion, I stick with positions firmly supported by cold hard facts. There are, though, good, bad and better ways of breaking news. Great consultants think about the delivery as well as the content.
  • People are always in the heart of every project and great consultants learn to make the most of them.
  • Solid ethics are not situational. Just because some businessmen get ‘massages’ during lunch in some countries, that doesn’t make it an appropriate behaviour for you to embark upon.
  • Always seek second party review. No one can come up with 100% of a great idea by themselves. Always socialize new ideas with colleagues.
  • Lastly, always travel in business attire.