I sincerely appreciate your confidence in me as such that you would ask for counsel regarding a personal and professional situation which is obviously deeply challenging and troubling. I only hope I can live up to your expectations. I really want to. But, I’m not so sure.
Actually, your five concerns/questions are easy for me to answer, when putting myself in those scenarios. That’s how I operated in my consulting practice. But, those five issues which relate to you as a consultant to the organization are deeply rooted in your previous experience as a full-time staff person with that same organization. And therein lies the problem, I believe. It is hard from this vantage point to correctly sound out your situation and to make the best recommendations which will work for you. I’ll give it a try, anyhow.
Right up front, it seems to me that something simple is being made greatly complex. That’s understandable due to the abrupt new way you are told to operate and the possible dismay, even resentment, this causes. And maybe it boils down to this:
Either the organization, or you, or both, cannot---or will not---separate the two very different professional engagements. And they are indeed very different. But, if either of you are holding the other to what was done when you were an employee, the five concerns you have will not be satisfactorily resolved, and indeed, there may be even more on the horizon.
Can the issues stem simply from the fact that the organization wants you, now as an outside consultant, to adhere to some of the controlled employee policies and procedures under which you worked prior? Or that you, as an outside consultant, want to have some of the access and freedom you had enjoyed while working there? Respectfully, to you both, such desires are not practical as they are unworkable. You both need to see each other in the new consultant/client light and do your mutual best to start anew working as traditional consultants do with their clients in the traditional way.
Please excuse me if I am off the mark. Even so, and for what they are worth, I have responded to your five questions according to my way of operating as a consultant. I hope that some of what I have to say is helpful.
Your concerns, as posted in your message, are copied below as you had them numbered, followed by my responses:
(1) Is it accepted practice to list a consultant in an organizational chart of employees?
No, I would not see the point of doing so where the organizational chart is one of a general business nature. But yes, I would see the point, and I have at times been so included, in an organizational chart which identified the principals involved in either the general fund-raising development effort for which I was contracted, or in a specific campaign---such as a capital campaign. The “box” with my name in it had a dotted line to the staffperson with whom I directly worked---almost always the chief development officer. If none, it was the Executive Director. I always initiated/suggested an organizational chart along those lines.
(2) Do consultants typically have a person assigned as their "supervisor" or is this situation a result of my previous employment relationship?
As a consultant, I never had a “supervisor,” because I was there to work equally as one-third of the team: Management, Volunteers, and Consultant. I was not there as an additional staff member. I was there as an addition to the campaign team, hired so that the organization could move more quickly and aggressively because of the added professional experience and judgment I brought to the organization.
(3) Is it common for a consultant to be denied access to the president/CEO of an organization?
There should be no reason for having unfettered access, or wanting to have access, if you are collaborating and partnering with someone else---such as the chief development officer---according to the terms and agreements of the consulting engagement. If access to the leadership you mentioned means something other than the exchange of pleasantries, then hard feelings, miscommunications, and generally crossed wires will result.
Taking that farther, should an issue became unbearable with my working contact, and there was no chance at all for its resolution, I would quit the client before I would go over her or his head to get my way. Would there ever be such an outcome where I would prevail, it would destroy the working relationship with my contact---a relationship, which in the main, depends on trust, and exactly the right “chemistry.”
Even at its most simple, and seemingly innocent best, the stage can most likely be set to lead to trouble when a consultant goes out of channels.
(4) What problems, if any, could be caused by this turn of events?
Those which I cited in no. (3).
(5) Am I unduly concerned that this change is likely to render me ineffective in a consulting role?
I believe that you will render yourself ineffective unless you and the organization---especially you---come to grips with the fact that you are no longer an employee, but a hired professional who should be working according to a whole new set of conditions and procedures in sync with what I stated above. Never let the person to whom you are assigned to collaborate be the last, or among the last, to know what you would be discussing with her or his leadership.
You do know that we have your bests interest at heart, and that we wish you the best of good luck.
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