I come from a long experience as a consultant, I’ve been in a lot of projects, of pre-sales demos, visited many customers and prospects and one constant has always been that time is elastic, you have to fit all that you need to do in a day, so days go from the standard 8 hours to 10, 12 or 16, depending on the pressure, because there’s too much to do or too few resources are allocated to the project. Customers tend to say “You are paid to be here”, except that you are paid for the day (8 hours) while you end up working substantially longer hours with little to none recognition for the effort more often than not.
For this reason I maintain that consultants are superheroes, we manage to have a life outside of work despite work. Sure frequently enough you’ll be on a wrap-up call at 9 or 10pm, but “Hey!, we pay you well!“. This was very true when I started, in 1999. Not so true any more, at least in Italy, in my experience.
In Ireland there is some level of expectation that you will stay longer hours, but on the other hand people (managers included) tend to leave at the right time more or less, and that prompts also you as a consultant to leave at a decent time: the approach is “what cannot be done today will be done tomorrow”.
I believe this is a much fairer expectation, that does not force you to stay longer hours just for the sake of it. If you stay a little longer it’s because you actually have a task that needs to happen today or you are going live with something, otherwise off you go to your family, the gym, or whatever you fancy.
With this in mind when I hire new consultants I will make sure that each of them will have the freedom of wearing some superhero related gadget (a Superman t-shirt under their shirt, Iron Man cuff links, an Avengers tie if they want to wear one, a Wonder Woman belt, etc.) to show the world (and remind themselves) that they really are superheroes, and the extra efforts, when required, will be recognized and adequately compensated.
After all we all work to bring home some money first of all, and in the process hopefully also feel proud for the work we’ve done under stressful, strenuous conditions, away from home and family, etc.
We want to feel like we contributed to the result, but too often this is forgotten, both by customers and consulting managers alike, too busy looking at what’s next to spend time to praise the teams for their accomplishments.