Got Resistance? Lack Speed? Focus on the Outsider

“Frequently, people are not officially employed by the company where they work, which robs them of the pride that comes from being part of a shared enterprise.”

~NYT report on ‘gig work’


This quote really struck me. When I left IBM I really missed the camaraderie of a global consulting team. That was a real loss. Over time my pride  and purpose transitioned to the success I enabled for my clients. My clients often call me back. We keep in touch. They are friends.

I work at the most senior levels of my client’s organizations. Yes, I’m a consultant – an outsider – but I’m very invested in their success. They are accountable, but I’m responsible for progress. My reputation depends on it. Many consultants and vendors feel the same way. We care deeply about our clients.

Last week I sent a note to a client’s communications department and asked to be added to the list for their internal news. I even provided a business case: “It’s helpful to understand what leaders are saying and what is important to the organization.”

The response: “We only add employees to the list. Managers are expected to forward communications as they see fit.”

What a dumb, short-sighted answer. Instead of adding someone who might actually read their news, they are asking hundreds of leaders to decide who needs to read internal news and invest extra time forwarding it.

As a contractor, I’ve been excluded from many corporate events. Being excluded can lead to feelings of resentment. Sometimes it is for reasons of cost, and I understand that. But when I’ve been included, it has only served to increase feelings of loyalty and build stronger bonds of trust. Trust makes work move faster.

In this new post-pandemic workplace that prioritizes diversity and collaboration, where lines blur between employee, consultant, and vendor, we are unified by mission and purpose. Therefore, we need to be careful about where we draw boundaries.

When organizations stop including people at the fringes they risk missing some of the biggest, best ideas. Take the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos idea, for example (read here).

If your aim is to be inclusive, and to truly leverage the power of diversity, consider:

  • Who are your most critical vendors? How can they be brought closer?
  • How are consultants treated? Trusted or segregated?
  • Do new employees and quiet individuals have a voice at the table?

Who is still on the outside? Perhaps they are the key to your next success.

Thoughtfully yours,
Jeff