The amount of power and influence you have in a contract is not related to the amount that you get. It all boils down to what you care about. Perceived You can empower your client, reporting supervisor or co-workers.
Contractors are hired by companies for different reasons than consultants. Their perceived power is therefore different. Contractors can be hired to augment the existing staff or add resources to one or several projects. The contractor’s perceived strength is, At mostThey receive the same salary as full-time employees. Consultants, on other hand, are often hired because of their expertise in one or several subject or functional areas. Consultants are perceived to be of great power. or even aboveThat of their reporting supervisor.
JUST A CONTRACTOR
Consultants often get treated the same as contractors when working in large organizations. Because these companies have so many different contractors coming in to help them with resources, I suspect they don’t know which ones are hired for what. While equality in the workforce is supposed to be a positive thing, it can lead to mistrust when it comes to perceived power.
In this kind of environment, contractors (and therefore consultants) are perceived as powerless. You may even hear one or more managers at the work site say they do not have to listen to or do anything a contractor/consultant says since they are “just a contractor.” It is not a matter of your skills or abilities that the professional makes this comment.
Managers who think they are just contractors have likely had bad experiences with contractors. You should not be a negative or false stereotype if you are in such an environment.
ACHIEVING PERCEIVED GOVERNMENT
Consultants are often hired based upon the reputation of the company where they work. A consultant’s perceived power is generally determined by the company they work for. This is great for those who work for the “big six”, but it may not be the best option if you aren’t. In that case, your perceived power will have to be earned through hard work. Perceived power is not something you can achieve by following a “magical” route. The work you do for clients is what will earn you perceived power.
You can be perceived as having power by being skilled in the field you were hired. This can be achieved by being professional in communication and behavior. Also, keep these three rules in mind:
- Keep the client informed about the progress of your projects.
- Never let your client be caught off guard by potentially bad or negative news.
- No matter what you do, ensure that your client doesn’t hear negative or bad news from their supervisor before you tell them. This could not only destroy any power that you may have but also damage your reputation and/or the reputation of your company.
The best way to get power is to suggest new ideas. Sometimes it takes another person to point out what is obvious. You can also achieve perceived power by continually suggesting ways to improve current processes. Your success is dependent on their success. It is important that their suggestions and decisions are based on valid, substantiated research.
LOSE ALL PERCEIVED POWER
It doesn’t matter how successful or how many clients you have helped, there will be moments when you lose your edge. Your perceived power could be diminished to zero or very low if a full-time employee “has” you. Some of the most talented consultants I have ever worked with have experienced this. It doesn’t matter if the employee is right to want you gone, it doesn’t matter. You might as well look for another client.
This happens sometimes when things are progressing faster than the manager would like. It’s ironic that sometimes, a great consultant can do too much. Managers may feel their job is at risk. But, remember that there is no “job security”. The manager’s point of view is that it boils down to “he goes or me”. Guess who wins this battle? (hint: It’s not YOU).
ABSOLUTELY “PERCEIVED” Power
You may have heard Lord Acton say, “Power tends corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Absolute power can corrupt absolutely, even if it is perceived. It doesn’t matter what your true power is or influence. It’s all about perception power in most situations. Your client will perceive you as an expert if they think so. If your client sees you as an expert, they will perceive you only as a supplementary resource. Unless you earn more.
Overall, consulting can be very rewarding. Consulting isn’t about you and your success. It’s about the success of your client. You can earn their success directly by the work you do for them.