That damn grass


In my line of work, I come across lots of consultants and lots of full-time employees.   Maybe that’s because I am a consultant who works with companies that have lots of employees.  I don’t have time to ponder that right now; I’d like to make a point…

I don’t remember a lot from high school and college physics.  But I do remember two things about pendulums:  their potential energy is greatest when they are momentarily motionless at the far end of their ‘arc’ ; and they are moving the fastest at the bottom, when they are centered precisely equidistant from either end of their arc.

I see many employees who are so frustrated with the lack of a well-defined career path, fighting office politics, perceived drudgery from working at the same place for years, and a belief that they are underpaid, that they either long for, or actually jump into the world of consulting, expecting all their woes will vanish.

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I also see many consultants who are so tired of travel, the uncertainty of where their next ‘gig’ will come from, feeling like an outsider everywhere they go, and wishing for stability and job security that they give up on consulting and take full time employment, usually at one of their clients.

These are folks who have swung all the way out to the edge of the pendulum, where their potential energy to move is at its peak.  As a leader or manager in your organization, whether it’s a consulting group or a business with employees, these are your folks who are your biggest retention challenges.  But what can you do?

If you’re managing consultants, do a little restructuring to make your consultants feel a bit more like FTE’s.  We all know what that feels like ; it shouldn’t be that hard.   Here’s one: take the term “on the bench” out of your company’s vocabulary.   If you’re managing FTE’s, give them some of the “perks” that consultants have: lots of different assignments, an opportunity to do a little travel, extra compensation for long hours, or maybe just seeing them more as a peer and less as an ‘underling.’

Remember, the grass isn’t greener on the other side if you’re already standing in it…

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One Comment on “That damn grass”

  1. Matthew Tallman Says:

    Very good post, Bob. There is something to be said about “company vocabulary”. The term “on the bench” is way overused. I also hate the term “selling people”. I can remember my days (in the not-to-distant past) at a certain consulting company where that term was used alot. I would have sales come up to me and say “I think we sold you to “.

    Yes, I know my expertise is a commodity to you…but make me feel like a prized possession not like some product.


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