The past week has been a rough one on one of my clients, devastated by possibly losing access to credit over the next few months as this economic situation unfolds. What can I do to provide value if all her attention is focused on finance (and that is not my area of expertise)?
Consultants often find themselves in a situation where they are not the leading contender for the client's attention. This may be because there are emerging issues that suddenly capture a client's attention (as you mention above), or that there are other consultants or staff that provide more value than you do (something, given our high opinion of ourselves, we prefer doesn't happen).
Don't presume that you should, or even can, always be at the center of a client's attention. You were asked to provide some valued skills to address a specific set of issues. It is for the client to determine where these skills are best applied and, if yours ebb and flow in importance, that is OK. Your best value to your client is to make sure that your skills are best adapted to the client's current needs. If corporate finance (or another issue) does unexpectedly take center stage, your expertise could leverage these needs. It may be that your original scope of work may have to be put on hold, or that your engagement may even have to be terminated, if that is in the client's best interest. Tip:
Think through how your original scope of services has changed because of the new situation. Lay out suggested changes you think might be of value to your client - including terminating the engagement. When you think you have a good proposed change in scope, talk it over with your client and, as quickly as possible, modify your services. This change should include steps to work with other staff and advisors who are addressing the new priority issue. © 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA