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#446: Office Politics Are Not a Consultant's Politics

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 29, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 29, 2010
I just can't stand playing politics. I prefer to be up front with my clients and "tell it like it is" and let the chips fall where they may. Am I wrong?

Let's assume your role as a consultant is to provide information, insight, and resources to help a client improve their condition. Where in this realm is it your place to stir up personal or cultural issues if this does not lead to improvement? Is there a chance that your comments will hurt people's feelings, create a rift between groups of people, or surface issues that your client sponsor is not prepared to deal with? This is well outside your role as a consultant and your "place" as, in effect, an invited guest into the client organization's culture.

However, if you assume that your role as a consultant is also to use your knowledge of human nature and the dynamics of group relationships, you may have a case to raise issues, whether because of content or style, that could create more of an impact than just the information alone would. Unless this is specifically in response to a client request and everyone is aware of the impact it will have on people, creating a personal, emotional or cultural reaction is something on which you should tread carefully.

Tip: Remember, even if you have been an observer of the client organization's culture, you do not "live" there and really don't know all the nuances of the culture and history. As sensitive as you are about different individual and organizational styles, you just don't know enough to be "telling it like it is" with impunity.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  business culture  client relations  communication  consultant role  customer understanding  goodwill  professionalism 

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Michael E. Cohen CMC MBA says...
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I certainly agree with that. One consultnat I know emloyed for organizational and individual development services raised an issue of alcoholism in the client's office. His contract was soon terminated.
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