One of the problems of being an independent consultant is that sometimes you're marketing yourself to the people who are the ones who make the money decisions, but they don't have all the knowledge needed to make the proper decisions.

That may not sound fair, but I'll give an example. In healthcare, for example, the position that usually gets to make the big decision as to whether to hire a director of medical records is the chief financial officer, sometimes called the vice president of finance. That's because medical coding is considered more of a financial responsibility than a clinical responsibility.

The thing is, almost no CFOs or VP's of Finance know a single thing about coding. They may have heard the term ICD-9, and they may know that medical records people are responsible for diagnosis codes, and in some facilities procedure coding of some areas, and they may have an understanding that the quicker claims get coded the sooner bills can get out the door (if charges are on the claim, but that's for another conversation), but that's about it. In situations like that, when one knows little about the work people do, one can only base their decisions on personality, questions about management style, etc. There are few hospitals that give tests to potential director level personnel, and every person who applies for that particular position will have the proper degrees and certifications required, so no help there. You might ask why these CFOs and VP's of Finance don't have this particular knowledge; because, overall, they don't need it, as it's not germane to the daily work they do.

Anyway, that's how it goes when it comes to hiring. It's the same sort of thing when it comes to hiring a consultant at times. As a healthcare consultant, I often find myself trying to describe what I'll do to people who aren't sure what's needed on their end, or what's not needed for the consultant. As a diversity consultant, I'm frequently talking to people who believe diversity discussions are only racial, especially where I'm concerned, when the topic of diversity is so much bigger. As a management/leadership consultant, I'm often talking to people who think something is wrong with everyone else, which may or may not be the case. And, as a consultant across the board, I'm always talking to people who look at the amounts charged for consulting assignment and wondering why it costs so much, without realizing what the end benefits might be.

This may look like a rant, but it's really not. Consulting is a tough business. Expecting people to be something different than what they were when you were working with them is illogical. More often than every once in awhile, you have to be ready to take a step back to define your terms, and you just might have to go over it more than once. It can be difficult and frustrating to have to go through, but when you land one, it feels absolutely fantastic.