in·sub·or·di·nate

Bryan Dubreuiel, Stranger Among Us

Bryan Dubreuiel, Stranger Among Us

In consulting, you don't often encounter outright insubordination. So, when you do it's like getting rear-ended in slow moving traffic. You're fine but your coffee spilled and you're sitting there stunned for a second thinking, "woah, what f*ck was that?"

A friend at one of the three-letter acronym consulting firms (that narrows it down, huh?) has been feeding me bits from a growing little personnel situation she's dealing with.  I've become like a 1950s housewife looking forward to my stories each day at 2pm-- about when she calls with, "ok, you're not going to believe what she did today..."  The short of it is that this individual has taken issue with some of the oversight processes in place and has opted out of regular status meetings and progress reporting. What?!  Insane.  I know.   Any effort to command, control, cajole, bribe, or flatter her into compliance has gone nowhere. Now both are digging in their sensible 3 inch heels. When called out, the rogue staffer insists that she's so busy with client work that doesn't have time for extras.  Bullshit, of course.

I'm sure there is more context there but-- whatever the root cause-- it's weird. Consultants, at least in my experience, are a pretty compliant bunch. We're also fortunate in that the industry attracts professional, motivated people who are generally hyper concerned about what other people think.

So when issues arise, we're taken off guard.  For all our big talk in management role playing exercises, most consultants are human and adverse to confrontation. While we might (often) disagree with management decisions or resent the intrusion "the matrix" causes, we're much more comfortable smiling then passive aggressively delaying a until it's no longer relevant or half-assing a response. Note to clients- Do what I say, not what I do.

Anyway, my friend's personnel thing will play out. She's managing it well. The staffer is still a twerp who will hopefully soon realize that she'd be better off in a parallel universe somewhere where checking in and being nice to your superiors isn't necessary.

It does strike me as an opportunity to practice what we preach, take the bull by the horns, and show 'em who's boss. You'll live to tell a client about it.