A career in consulting brings with it the opportunity to work with a wide variety of client personnel at different organizational levels, representing different departmental functions. This can be a very rewarding experience in terms of personal growth, but also implies that consultants are required to build working relationships with a wide variety of people who have different personalities, backgrounds and agendas. This will require a degree of flexibility.

Clients can vary considerably in terms of style and approach: some may be formal and others informal; some may be well structured whilst others less structured; and some may be willing to collaborate openly whilst others may be more reserved. Clients may also have differing expectations of consultants, which will need to be understood and carefully managed. To accommodate these variables our approach will need to be sufficiently adaptable.

In Chapter 1 we described consulting as a helping relationship. However, in reality some people may be easier to help than others. Client-related obstacles can impact the value that we are able to deliver and must therefore be handled carefully. Some of the most common obstacles include poor client cooperation during the progress of an assignment, resistance when attempting to effect any kind of change, and conflicts of interest between stakeholders within a client organization.

Supported by examples, this chapter will explore practical ...

Get The Consultant's Handbook: A Practical Guide to Delivering High-value and Differentiated Services in a Competitive Marketplace now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.