In my consulting career, I have always had the opinion that I’m never “home.” I never really feel like I can ever get comfortable enough in an environment that I am able to truly let my hair down. While that may seem strange to some, it is my way of remaining objective and professional. I’m in someone else’s home, I should treat it with respect.
I was in a meeting today and another consultant was exceptionally disrespectful to the manager in the room. I wasn’t very surprised, just disappointed. I feel that as consultants, we are supposed to be a little above others in how we work and demonstrate professionalism. While it may not have been a big deal, I am sure I wasn’t the only one that noticed and made special note of what “not” to do.
When I start a new gig, I always make a mental note to act as if I am in someone’s home. Treat it with respect. Learn the rules of the place. Who’s in charge. I don’t always determine all my answers right away, but each day I learn more about how to behave. Most of this has been driven by years of challenging environments with political battles around every corner.
My question is always — where do you hang your hat as a consultant? When you walk into a place, how do you treat it? Do you treat it like your home? Do you put your feet up on the furniture? Do you leave food out on the counters? Or do you make yourself aware of the owner’s rules?