Consulting 101 – Part 2

6 – Keep a journal of everything you do.  Tasks done, talked on the phone, arrived late, left late, short lunch.  Seriously, record everything.  Including learning or research done outside of work.  You see, when things are going good, no one scrutinizes you.  However, when things aren’t going perfectly or if your project hits a rough patch, everyone goes under the microscope.  You will get asked questions like “you arrived late on Tue and spent a lot of time on the phone. Both times I walked by your cube, you were on yahoo.  I think you have low productivity.”  If you counter with “Here, lets look at my journal.  Yes, here you can see that I subtracted 18 minutes of phone time from my reported hours and still came in with 42 hours for last week”.  You only have to do that once or twice and people stay off your back.

7 – Go to lunch with your co-workers.  Having a social connection with your co-workers helps you communicate with them better and it helps to reinforce rule #1 (make sure they like you).  Also, by making the social connection outside of the office, you don’t get accused of being unproductive by socializing while you are on the clock.

8 – If you get frustrated and need to vent a little, be careful who you talk to and where.  First of all, don’t vent to someone at the customer’s site.  If you find somebody who agrees with you, its probably not a good thing.  People know who “the malcontents” are at work. Hanging out with them won’t be good for your reputation (violating rule #1).  Also, if you are venting to anybody, ever, be careful where you do it.  Once, I was on a contract with a large local company.  It turned out that 1 out of every 10 people in that town worked for that employer or knew someone who worked for them.  So, when I talked about office politics with my wife in a restaurant, or store or even at a park, the people sitting near me could recognize the names of the people that I was discussing or knew someone who knew them.  One time, something that I said actually managed to get back to a co-worker.  It was awkward.  Lesson learned.

9 – Cube farms are like a bathroom.  They have excellent acoustics and you have no idea who is in the room with you.  So, just assume that everyone on the entire floor is listening-in on every conversation.  Odds are, they are listening!  So, be positive and professional.  If you need privacy, go to your car.

10 – If you identify a problem, also identify a solution.  For instance, if you can’t get your work done because somebody isn’t giving you the information you need, find a way of getting that information.  Don’t just complain to your boss or co-workers if you don’t have a solution.  Also, be prepared to accept the fact that people may not accept your solution.  If that happens, get over it.  Nobody likes a whiney baby (see rule #1), however, a person who solves problems is totally priceless.  So is someone who endures tribulation with a smile.

11 – Be the guy who gets stuff done.  I have worked with people who get a project to 85% or 90% but can’t get the last 10% done.  Then they dump the project in my lap.  Usually, it is because they have coded themselves into a corner and can’t find the way out.  Frustrating.  When I figured out the last 10%, I was credited with completing the project.  Somehow, I got all the credit. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”  If the other guy had done the last 10% or asked me for help (instead of dumping it in my lap), he would have gotten credit for all his work.  Sad.  Plus, now I know that I can’t trust the other guy to get the job done.  That cuts into my productivity.
Also, I have been on projects where someone wasn’t doing their job.  It prevented me from doing my job.  Who got blamed? Me!  Since then, I have found that if I just roll up my sleeves and do both our jobs, I look pretty good.  Then I get told “oh, you didn’t have to do that.  I was going to get to it eventually”.  (Yes, of course you were).  I just reply with “No problem.  I know you are really busy.  I’m glad to help-out any time.  Let me know if I can assist you again”.  Then, don’t try to take credit for it.  Just say nothing.  People will like and respect you more if you aren’t a glory hog.  People will notice how stuff [just seems to get done] when you are around.  They get it.

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About Tim Golisch

I'm a geek. I do geeky things.
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