Don’t call us “consultants”

I recently tried to reason on why some colleagues seem to experience a sort of  “rage” and discomfort in their communication with the company.

Any time an official communication reaches our inbox, they “reply to all” with clear resentment.  In other occasion, they broadcast unpolitely a rude mail which sounds as a “call for company presence feedback”.

Some colleague guessed this could have been a matter of jealousy and rage coming from the “labeling pyramid” that our human resources calls “career path”. In short, a consultant complains for not being a technical consultant, who in turn complains for not being a professional consultant, who complains for not being a senior consultant, or a principal consultant and so on.

This makes sense. But what if the wrong word is consultant, and not the preamble labelling?

In other words the question is: “is it correct to call time&material resources as consultants?” Could this misnomer be the real reason for diffuse murmuring and discomfort?

If we look at consultant target, this can be summarized as a “shot term goal: solving a client issue in order to be paid as much as possible for the shortest intervention time possible”. And I would add “…then move to the next contract asking for higher fees”.

This is a high demanding but also high rewarding mission.

Let’s look now into a (open-ended)time&material rented resource, formerly (or mistakenly) named as consultant? She has a “long term goal:  convincing the client to undefinely procrastinate the contract end, by doing a day by day routine as like a client employee, but a little better in order to be indispensable”.

That said, it jumps out immediately how opposite these focuses are: rapid situation enhancement vs maintaining status quo.

In order to be (partially) immune from this contradictory identity conflict, it is fundamental that every time&material contract is doped with an innovation mission, even if this could mean reducing and not augmenting the required resource number. Which unfortunately won’t help your career jump.

For those who are engaged in repetitive, well established (and com’ on, be honest, also a bit boring) contracts, I would recommend to reconsider the use of “consulting” word, and to not make too distance between what they really do and what’s on the company’s presentation program.

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