The degree to which you get involved in a consulting project for a client can vary greatly from project to project, or, you could specifically seek out projects where a level of involvement you are comfortable with is required.
Analysts and advisors rarely get involved in any sort of hands on work for a client. Their function is to provide objective, expert, third party observations and recommendations.
The second tier would be where the consultant and the client would form a partnership, sharing tasks on a predetermined basis, but with the consultant having a much more hands on approach to the project.
The final type or level would be where the consultant performs most of the work, with guidance and requests only from the client.
Moreover, just as there are various levels of involvement between the client and the consultant on projects, there are varying degrees to which consultants are willing to share knowledge and expertise.
In some cases, consultants prefer not to share any knowledge with their clients or their employees. This is generally a tactic to ensure a continued source of consulting jobs and repeat business – the thinking is if they do not know how to do it themselves, they will have to call me.
That can be a wise strategy, however, it may result in resentment from your client, or, being called for minor issues that really do not warrant your attention, and can become an annoyance!
The middle ground would be to impart just enough knowledge to your clients that they can easily implement the project you have been working on for them, but that they still need your services for future projects.
This seems like a wiser choice, as your client will benefit, and may feel more trusting towards you (always valuable), and you will not be called for every tiny query that may arise.
The last level would be to provide the client with complete training. Some consultants do choose this method, and, if you have a multi faceted consultancy business, it could work for you. For instance, if you own a human resources consultancy, and a client requests training for staff on a specific aspect, it would not be problematic to provide this, since there are many other aspects of the field that you could still offer them.
Clients tend to value the latter approach, and see consultants who take this approach as more credible and approachable, ironically, often resulting in more repeat business!
So while it’s clearly not ideal to disengage completely from the organizations you work for, and does in fact help to become involved in the organization’s success, the level of involvement is broad, and it is possible to find some middle ground.
Remember – consulting, like any business, is about building relationships. Those relationships are more likely to be successful and long term, if your clients feel that they can trust you, and that you have their best interests at heart.
And what is better after all: one high paying project, or many projects over the years?