Office Politics and Consultants
No matter how good the people are to work with at your client's location, office politics will abound. That's the reality of corporate America. As a consultant you will have choices to make as to how to deal with the political issues that come your way.
As a consultant, you might think that you can play the role of Sweden and stay out of all politics. This is an oversimplified view that will surely disappoint the people that pay your bills. When confronted with the opposing views, your best bet is to look at both sides. Then identify what it is that makes each position worth having and why each side is in conflict. Sometimes when you do this you can come up with ideas that allows one or both sides to “save face” and come to an agreement that is appropriate for everyone.
Some things you'll want to do and not do when dealing with office politics include:
- Don't call the other side names. You may be inclined to do so when those around you are. Once you go down the path of disparaging others, it can affect what others think of you. It's a lot like being upset when someone calls your sister a name even though you do it all the time.
- Don't use the “I'm just a consultant” excuse to avoid difficult conversations. Step in to the ring and speak your opinion. People may agree with you which is great. Or they may disagree with you in which case you and your counterparts will likely learn something from the exchange of ideas.
- Once you've made your view clear, let your client know that you'll support whatever path they take. Re-assure them, subtly, that you won't torpedo their project just because you don't agree with the path chosen.