In my last post, I talked about the challenges of working in the consulting industry. Many of these challenges, such as a bad project, a difficult client, or a tough team, are things that all consultants struggle with at some point in their career. Like any profession, consulting is not for everyone, but for those who are still interested I want to offer some insight into how consultants work through these challenges or take a different perspective in order to make the best of a difficult situation.
Bad Project – Every consultant has a bad project come up at some point in their career. Not all things in life can be rainbows and butterflies and that surely is true in consulting.The good news? Most projects have a finite time period – whether its 1 month, 6 weeks, or 6 months the end eventually comes, and the bad project ends.
Difficult Client – Not every client is going to agree with you, or bend over backwards to help you. This can be challenging, because you do need their cooperation to make things happen. Winning over a difficult client is not easy, but considering most consultants choose the profession because they like working with people it truly tests and strengthens your skillset in building relationships with others, which has benefits for both your personal and professional life.
Tough Team – You won’t always love everyone you work with, but sometimes your time just isn’t great. In most cases, there’s a reason why the people on your team were chosen to work for your company, and it’s generally because they have a skillsetthat adds value. Despite the difficulty, or how you might view your teammates, focusing on identifying their capabilities and using them to execute the task at hand can help you work through your chemistry struggles. At the end of the day, its about delivery and execution, and while you may not always get along with your teammates, people generally respect good work and results.
Curveballs – Things change in consulting – it’s just a part of the industry. You’re ability to adapt to the change will help you successfully navigate the consulting industry. While these curveballs may seem challenging, uncomfortable, and in some cases, unfair, they provide opportunities to build new skills, take on new responsibilities, and demonstrate your creativity.
Demanding Travel – This one is tough, because sometimes, there’s nothing positive about a redeye to New York or flying each week to the middle of nowhere. However, I will say this: in general, it looks like the industry is trying to cut back on travel whenever the client will allow it. This may mean you don’t have to fly every week or perhaps you’ll get one week off per month which can make a big difference. Finally, if you’re stuck with flying every week, at least there are the miles!
Not being able to make personal plans. Ever. – Again, not too optimistic answers to this one, as not being able to see your friends or make normal plans is pretty tough. I will say this. First, if you like what you’re doing, and doing a lot of it, odds are that it means you are truly enjoying how you are spending the majority of your week, and that surely isn’t a bad thing. Secondly, and this especially goes for those who are traveling every week – your team in consulting is everything, and if you have a good team that you spend a lot of time with you can quickly develop some great relationships. Surely, this won’t replace the friends you can’t see back home, but I think you will find it will make the time spent working together more worthwhile.
Bottom Line: These challenges can be tough to deal with, and in the moment, may seem overwhelming or even insurmountable. However, I really believe that attitude makes a difference, and each challenge does present an opportunity. Yes, it will be difficult – it may even suck. But, if you can look for the opportunity or potential benefit and focus on diligently working on mastering the challenge each and every day, I think you will find that even the challenging and difficult moments will yield benefits and improvements.