Challenges We Have Seen
At times, consultants may find themselves intimidated and less than completely effective as a result of the environment and interactions they encounter on a given assignment. For example, I recall one placement recently where the client was constantly changing the requirements. In addition, our consultant was being asked to complete tasks which were clearly not within the job description for which she was hired. Under pressure to meet deadlines and yet being kept out-of-the-loop with regard to important details, this very knowledgeable and competent IT professional began to feel anxious and her productivity suffered. Realizing that she didn’t have the personality to challenge authority forcefully, I stepped in with the following approach: I validated her frustration at being constantly pressured to produce results without having been given the requisite tools and information; I let the client know that his expectations were not realistic; and I suggested steps to rectify the situation so that she could work more efficiently and deliver the product he wanted.
New Employment Challenges
Employees may be particularly vulnerable when facing new and uncertain work environments if they have recently returned to the workforce. Being unemployed for even a brief period of time can be extremely disconcerting, and it can erode the self-confidence of even the most successful individuals. Very often, people in these situations may find themselves second-guessing their initial reactions while needing more confirmation than before that they are on track.
Other Critical Factors
It is helpful to remember that we all wear many hats and that sometimes what a person is dealing with in another part of her life may affect her in the office, as well. No work setting will function well if employees are emoting excessively all the time about personal matters, but it can also be unproductive to ignore it when there is obviously an elephant in the room. If a colleague mentions that he is going through a rough patch, statements of understanding and support from co-workers can go a long way.
At this time of year, many people take stock of themselves and some make specific resolutions of things they would like to change in the coming year. Becoming more aware of oneself and assessing one’s current status is always the first step to growth. Take some time this holiday season to reflect upon your personality, especially with regard to interpersonal strengths and weaknesses. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, there are probably a few scenarios you wish you could replay. Now is the time to think about how you can get yourself on the path that takes you to that better outcome.
 Aiello, Robert and Leslie Sachs. Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World. Addison-Wesley, 2010.