As a consultant, there is a litany of expectations that you are required to meet at any given time. Meeting appropriate expectations and jumping into multiple roles on any given day are just a part of the job. What does this mean for the day to day work of a consultant? Well, it means that you must be able to wear multiple hats. As most corporate dress code doesn’t allow a wide array of hats, let’s assume that these hats are figurative.
Although, if it helps you get into character, by all means –brush off your fedoras.
A lot of times consultants are brought into companies as a sort of “fixer”. You are there to run a specific project, streamline a specific task, lend your expertise on a specific subject, etc. There is no clear black and white rule book for what your exact daily tasks will consist of. So I say, within reason, be prepared for anything.
You may be wearing your manager hat one minute, your developer hat another, and still yet your sales yet in the next moment. As a consultant you have to be flexible and you have to adjust to the current need. Different consultants take on different types of work. Some put in full time hours at one company at a time while others work many small jobs for several companies at once.
If you’re working full time at one company at a time, you have to be able to integrate into the culture of that company while you’re there. You are obviously bringing your own perspective, experience, and knowledge to the table –but at the same time you are entering what is already a collective unit. Then, when you move on to the next company, you are changing your entire structure to better serve that next business. In order to figure out problems and solutions for your clients, you have to put yourself into different roles. Customer service, sales, design, management, and more.
On the other hand, if you’re a consultant that takes several small consultant jobs at one time, you are constantly prioritizing your time and regrouping. Your hats are switching multiple times a day. Different clients have different needs from you. You in turn have different skills to give each of your clients for the specific job they’ve hired you for. It can get confusing –so you have to be flexible.
As an outsider coming in, people will look to you for a fresh perspective. You are a new set of eyes, a new voice, and a new plan. Even if you were brought in for one very specific job, you may end up crossing over into other aspects of the business. You’re going to have to switch roles as you go.
Being flexible comes with the territory. It’s not the most conventional job. You’re a consultant, but this often times will translate into you becoming a trainer, a coach, and more so that you can set your clients up for success after you are gone. That is the main goal.
Consider this from Team Coaching International:
Here’s the scene. You’re there in a conference room with a team. You just noticed something. The team noticed that you noticed. Now the team is staring at you, waiting for a comment, a question, or a direction to follow. In that moment you have to decide what hat you’re wearing: coach, consultant or in some cases, trainer. The team doesn’t care. All they want are better results. You have that goal in mind of course. You were hired to help the team get better results. But you also have a broader context: a more resourceful team. It’s this underlying develop-mental objective that gives rise to the multiple hats and hat selection.
You are there for a reason –wearing multiple hats allows your clients to get the best you have to offer.
So, what have your experiences been wearing multiple hats for clients? Do you think this is the most productive way to work with a company or on a team? Do you think that the lines should be less blurred and everyone should stay in their own lane? What are your thoughts? Comment below!