I am an independent change management consultant who has been hired for a six month contract on a special project. I have just submitted my two-weeks’ notice because I was offered a better contract both financially and professionally. The project manager is asking me to complete another employee’s work until I leave. This employee has not been able to perform his responsibilities over the past four months. I feel used. I have other tasks to complete during these two weeks which is in my contract well as transitioning my work to another team member.
How do I respond to the Project manager’s request?
Signed: Feel Used
Great question. Seems like your manager has other plans for you before you leave, and it sounds like she is in a crisis with meeting her deadline. She has turned to you to save the day and do the work that should have been done by the other employee.
The following are some options to consider as recommended by leading consultants in the field:
1. Don’t burn your bridges.
I would just do what she wants. You are getting paid and in good faith and to keep up the good relationship with her (you never know when your paths might cross again), I would respect her deadline and understand that her name is on the line. Yes, that employee should have been fired and it’s unfair that the project manager has waited for a crisis like your leaving and then dump the work on you. That is the nature of the workforce for everyone.
2. Remember the consultant’s role.
My understanding of this role is that you do whatever the project manager wants even if it’s not in the contract. You were hired to ensure the success of the project. You were hired for your expertise and your ability to save the day. Isn’t that what consultants are for? Unless you have set clear boundaries before signing the agreement regarding your responsibilities and role on the project, you will need to be flexible and do the job she requires until you leave.
Consider using your resignation as an opportunity to teach, coach and advise the project manager to deal with this crisis as well as avoid future crisis and meet her deadlines. I would recommend strategies that she can apply after you leave that can help her handle her underperforming staff. Perhaps you can offer to train them and therefore help the project manager be more self-sufficient. I would be direct and clear with her that her success and the success of the project is important to you, even though you are leaving. Leave the door open for her to contact you if she has questions. This could be another opportunity for you to carve for yourself – another contract to train the employees who have not be performing and have not been handled or fired as they should have been.
I wish you much success in your exiting this contract and starting a new fresh contract and project!
P.S. the Consultant contacted me to tell me that she chose to follow my suggestion and not burn her bridges. She completed the other employee’s work in a couple of days, continued with her own work as well as transitioning the other employees to take over after she leaves. She decided that it’s a small world and felt that this option was the more ethical way to go as well as “doing the right thing”.