Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Your company has a problem or set of problems.

Do your leaders ask you or your co-workers for input into solving the problems?


Do your leaders, who are supposed to strategize, motivate, and actually lead try to navigate you and your team through problem solving?


So what do the leaders of your company do?

Hire Consultants!!! (queue the game show winner music)

Yes, the trusted Consultant comes in to solve your company’s problems. Your boss hails the consultant as if they were the Messiah. He describes to the group all the experience and knowledge the consultant brings to your company. Then after all the fanfare, the consultant speaks with something profound like “I look forward to working with all of you” or “I’ll be interested in picking your brains to see how things work in your department.”

These two statements translated from consultant language really mean:

“Your company is paying me 3 times what any of you make and I will take every advantage of that to string out my assignment for as long as possible”


“I have no idea what the hell I’m doing and will use you and your ideas and present them as my own.”

I have come across many consultants in my career and for the most part they were hired because the upper management of the department failed to recognize and utilize the skills and knowledge of the people they had. The consultant simply “picked the brain” of employees in the department and regurgitated (see Regergatator) their thoughts as part of their final recommendation.

When and if the consultant’s recommendations are reviewed with employees, people realize the true ruse of the consultant. “Why did we need a consultant to just steal my ideas” people ask. The real kicker is when you realize your increase or bonus is in the pocket of the consultant who is now sipping Pina Colada’s on some sunny beach somewhere. Consultants usually have a way of taking a vacation after they have just collected another big payday from another sucker company. They’ll also tell you about the vacation they are going to take following their assignment which further helps build resentment.

The consultant is one of the many contributors in employees becoming Turtles at Work. You realize that when you present ideas or recommendations they are vastly ignored. However when the company brings in a high priced consultant to re-present your ideas and recommendations as their own, they are taken and respected by your leadership. As a Turtle, be wary of the consultant as there is no reward for you in assisting them. Remember that they are getting paid to come up with the improvement and if you try and “think outside the shell” you are only contributing to their payday.


"...the upper management of the department failed to recognize and utilize the skills and knowledge of the people they had..."

SO true. I have seen this in every job I've ever had -- they hire you because you're so damned brilliant, then the second you walk into the office as an employee they completely forget all of your dazzling achievements and act like you're an idiot. Perhaps you should reflect on this phenomenon!

This article about consultants describes a recent scenario at my company to a T! Our "expert" consultant was even seen and heard making (lots of) job hunting phone calls, daily! Apparently he was tired of the life of a consultant and wanted to get back to the life of a staff employee. Oh, on second thought, he probably was never a consultant but rather was simply taking on anything that brought him a pay check while in between staff jobs . . . because his behaviors as a consultant was totally UNPROFESSIONAL!

Boy, did he not milk us on the projects my manager hired him for! His work, at my estimate, could have been done in 2 weeks (since he was supposed to be so experted at what he was hired for), yet he stayed for a little over a month. Meanwhile, I was getting pressure (okay nudges) from my manager's boss to get him to finish the work a.s.a.p. since "he is very expensive."

What I wonder is how the scenario/consultant/manager's decision to hire outsiders made us, the staff employees, look. Would others in the company look upon the need for bringing in outside experts as our incompatence to get the needed work done? Never mind that the consultants may steal our ideas and knowledge and hone them as their own, as they will (eventually) leave. Nonetheless, it is the resulting and lingering perceptions of our abilities that concerns me.

Any thoughts?

The decision to hire an outside consultent does trigger employees to question their own abilities. The problem comes in when your ideas are stolen and used by the consultant. Employees begin to think "why wouldn't they listen to me because those are my ideas?"

Many managers don't know how to run effective meetings or solicit employees ideas and thoughts. If they did, there very rarely would be a need to hire consultants.

The other problem is bringing up this point to your boss. If you tell him/her about the consultant's ploy or try to present your own ideas to solve the problems, you make get blown off. This relates more to your bosses inadequacies as many bosses are to proud and arrogant to admit fault or that their employees may have something to offer. It's this lack of skill by your boss that led to the consultant being hired. I've seen in a million times.

Hang in there and remember the philosophy of the turtle!

Turtle King

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