If you have been reading my consulting excellence blog you will note that I have a high degree of passion for the profession. I cherish the attributes of skill, professionalism, intellect, integrity, teamwork and action. Not all consultants are successful at illustrating these attributes. I have the true stories of 5 consultants that may give you some insight as to why client’s are sometimes wary of engaging consultants.
Person #1 a Requirements Analyst showed up for work every morning at 8:15 am. He would doff his coat, power up his PC, remove his glasses and head off for his first meeting of the day. Or so we thought. Actually he did all that except attend his first meeting. He left the building and headed for another office to go to his 9:00 am job. Fortunately for him, the offices were close by and he could attend mandatory meetings in either location without much fuss. At his second location, he would leave yet another pair of glasses, another warmed up PC and another coat on the rack. He would effectively split his time between both jobs during the day, do half the work he was tasked with and receive double the compensation. His work quality was actually reasonably high but not voluminous, he would run behind schedule but find creative ways to book client meetings out in advance and claim the client wasn’t available in the short term. It wasn’t until one of these slippages was challenged in a steering committee meeting that the fake client unavailability claim was exposed. A cursory check then revealed that he was gone off-premise 1/2 of the day. When presented with the facts about his off-premises time, he admitted to the scam. He had only been on our project for about 60 days, but in conversation mentioned that he been “double-timing” for over 10 years and no one had ever complained. We, unsolicited, refunded all his time billed to the client and withheld payment of all invoices he submitted.
Person #2 was a Technical QA specialist on our team. It is very, very hard to judge the productivity of Tech QA resources, because they only report things that are failures. Nothing to report is good news. If the volume of Tech QA bugs is low, everyone is happy. So it’s a perfect place to hide on a project. Person #2 was one of a large team of technical quality assurance resources. They work mostly alone on assigned areas and for the most part if they report bugs, you know they are working. Person #2 however his hobby was Tech QA. A hobby he was paid for unfortunately. His real job was a stock day-trader. He would “work” impressive numbers of hours, mostly coinciding with Nikkei and FTSE as well as North American markets. We did permit personal use of the network for our consultants and contrary to popular belief, did not spend much time reviewing the URL traffic. He may never have been caught except… he went on TV. As part of a local business program, they did a story on day-traders. There he was, not only explaining the benefits of day-trading but also saying that his day job was really interfering with his day-trading. He didn’t have that problem the next morning. We, unsolicited, refunded all his time billed to the client, pulled the Network logs, added up up the time and sent an invoice to the agency that brokered him for all his time spent on non-client business. It was 100% of his time.
Person #3 was actually a competent consultant and his on-site work would not have put him in this list. One of the projects had client-provided corporate apartments for the long term consultants. For those with families, a multi-bedroom apartment. Person #3 had a wife and a small baby in their two bedroom apartment. When his contract was over and they moved on to their next location, I was summoned into the CIO’s office. I was presented with a bill for $7,000. The $7,000 bill was for cleaning, debris removal, new carpets , new furniture and repainting of Person #3’s apartment. Of course I immediately accepted the bill but queried what had happened. In the two years of residency, it appears that Person #3 and family did not dispose of a single diaper during that period and instead opted for opening the door of the second bedroom and throwing it inside. Approximately 3,000 dirty diapers. Can you say aromatherapy? I had talked about some sticky issues with the CIO before but nothing like this one.
Person #4 has been working late in the office and went out to a local establishment not far from the client’s office. The patrons of this place included men and women and other PROFESSIONAL women. Person #4 decided that since the client’s office was close, convenient and quiet by this time of the evening that he and his two rented companions could make use of the client’s office for their liaison. Now not all rooms were large and had doors, so they selected the client’s main conference room. Person #4 and two of his new friends, who had already started earning their fee, were busy when interrupted by a shocked member of the client’s staff. The client had deactivated his pass card before I was even made aware of the incident.
Person #5 (the winner)
Some people will try many tricks to increase their chances of finding a date for the evening. One such trick practiced by a consultant on our team was to pose as an executive of our client’s organization and hand out the business card of a client executive to prospective mates. He’s local, has a great job with a great title. Sounds like a match! The after-hours shenanigans of this consultant caught up with him when after a successful evening, one of our client executives received a long and explicit voicemail from (we’ll call her Jane) Jane. Puzzled and concerned, the client executive calls Jane back, explains that he was not the person she was with but the facts she had gleaned clearly pointed to the person being involved with our project. So Jane and the client executive came to the project location for a visit. It took Jane less than 10 minutes to find the imposter, who was then escorted from the building.
So you won’t see these in Ripley’s Believe it or not, but they all happened. Some were business-hour integrity failures, some were after-hours integrity failures and some are just inexplicable behavior (the diaper den) but in common with each was negative impact on the client and the consultant/client relationship for every team member.
The moral of these stories is this: when you are working on a client’s premise or participating their community your professional conduct needs to be sustained on and even off-site. If you need to let loose for some R&R, take it out of town and leave your business cards ( and the client’s) back at the office.