As a management consultant, one of the toughest things to do from time to time is to find a way to get the people on my side. Well, let me clarify that one a little bit. Often, people expect one of two things from a consultant. One, they expect them to know all the answers; two, they expect them to know nothing.

On the first point, because they may expect a consultant to know everything, they offer very little, wanting to sit back and wait for the consultant to impart a great deal of wisdom on them. Sometimes consultants acquiesce to that request, but if they do without talking to the people and asking questions, it’s worthless information.

On the second point, sometimes people are jaded because they’ve seen a number of consultants come and go, and they don’t believe anyone is going to be able to help them solve their issues, let alone take the time to try to learn anything about what they actually do. I’ve seen that also, as many consultants will waste time with what’s known as “high level” assessments that offer no meat as to what’s really going on or how to really solve any issues.

Today was a good day for me. I got to offer my opinion on a few things, and I actually showed one department that something they’d assumed for years was incorrect, and it may help them do a part of their job better. I also went to bat for another department, learned some interesting information that I was able to impart on both them and someone else, and got my first real thank you since I started on the project. Gotta love those “thank you’s”, because that means you’re making a difference, and any good consultant wants to help make positive differences.

Of course, managers should be doing the same thing as often as they can. Too many times I see the failings of people in leadership positions who learn one thing, then keep going back to the well on that one thing and using it as the excuse for everything else. Truth be told, often there is one solution for many things, but it might have to be applied differently. Also, if you use it as a crutch or an excuse for not getting things corrected, you’ll end up looking more like a whiner than like someone who can quickly assess an issue and then help to solve it.

This is when finding problems is a good thing, because every new problem is also a new opportunity. When we look at things that way, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. And you just might pick up a fan or two along the way.