Multiple Hats

~ by Randy Wagner

Consultants Must Wear Many Hats

As consultants, we are expected to represent our shop well, provide more value than our fees, and generally speak, look, and act like we’re the ones to call when a client needs help. That’s all great but it goes beyond that simple perspective. It often demands that we wear numerous hats at once.

Know Your Specialty

At the core, a good consultant knows his or her specialty well and has the mental flexibility to employ those skills in a manner customized for the client. Whether on site or on camera, we look the part. Disheveled, mouth-breathers need not apply. We represent the consulting shop and do it well but that is just the beginning.

Represent the X-Center Team

We also represent the x-center team in cross-functional meetings, Scrum of Scrums, and change control meetings. That hat needs to be on straight when we join the meeting so our team’s issues and communications are taken seriously. It’s a level of ownership that goes beyond the work assigned to us and projects the abilities and ambitions of the team.

Work with Client’s Partners

It doesn’t stop there. Frequently, we also work with the partners in the client’s ecosystem. In this case, we are not just representing our shop or the team, we are also representing the client directly. So, when we are working with an external integration or a regulatory body, our conduct must convey the virtues of the client—maintaining, maybe even improving—the standing of the client with the outside organization.

Mentor and Teach Others

All of this is not enough if it vanishes the moment you leave, which is why it’s imperative that we ensure that others can wear these hats as well. Whether we are bringing a client’s staff up to speed or enabling our consulting teammates to step up, mentoring and teaching enable us to multiply the power. Bring junior associates to meetings and debrief them after to identify the subtleties that often happen unobserved. Encourage them to stretch their abilities by contributing materially to the effort and then highlight their work. The mentor hat is critical because it enables us to smoothly adjust resources as additional projects pop up that require skills to be reassigned.

Train and Document Systems

Finally, imparting the long-term wisdom to wear multiple hats falls to one more hat, the training and documentation hat. Documenting what we know, how to get from A to B, and providing structure to an often-complicated view of systems, projects, and procedures provides just a little bit of immortality when it’s done well. Whether you retire or move on, providing a platform for others to stand on and improve upon creates the nutrient-rich soil for excellence to grow. Systems that remain static don’t last long. Providing the tools for healthy change is often exactly why consultants are needed in the first place.

A Great Consultant Wears Multiple Hats while Maintaining Standards of Excellence

Being a great consultant isn’t just about the assigned work. It includes the ability to operate at multiple levels and wear multiple hats simultaneously. Clients aren’t just looking for heads-down functional ability. The job also includes being able to work with others in different capacities while maintaining standards of excellence. We wear all the different hats and enable others to wear them as well.

Randy Wagner is Director of Quality Assurance for CastleBay Companies. He has 20 years of consulting experience across private and public sectors, Guidewire InsuranceSuite, InsuranceNow, and Duck Creek, with specializations in quality assurance, project management, configuration management, and automation.