By February 5, 2009 10 Comments Read More →

Consultants, Beware Of Procrastinators, Disengaged, And Distracters!

Consultant mostly involved with work that requires massive interpersonal activities. When it comes to such interactions, too often time spent for nothing. But sometimes real results achieved right away. How come?… The answer is – Focus and Energy. High Energy and Focus 
by scalespeeder

In his post Focus and Energy  J.D. Meier at describes 4 types of personas: Procrastinators, Disengaged, Distracters, Purposeful. J.D.writes:

  • Procrastinators – Low energy and low focus
  • Disengaged – Low energy  and high focus
  • Distracters – High energy and low focus.
  • Purposeful – High energy and high focus


During last 14 years I had 12 managers. I can safely say I have observed each and every kind. This is the distillation that might be useful for you when dealing with different kinds of managers:

  • Procrastinators. If you hit low-energy-low-focus manager I feel deep sorrow for you. You are suffering and I can feel the pain. The flip side of the story is that you are kind of on your own and since you are reading it I can safely assume you are entrepreneurish kind of guy. Set your own goals, make connections, achieve results. One thing though – present your achievements as you manager’s. That way he will be satisfied with your work while keep staying out of your way.
  • Disengaged. Low-energy-high-focus manager will demand results from you. Do not expect any help from such manager. It is frustrating… When you hit the problem that is out of your control and it is the time to escalate…. you have no place to go.
  • Distracters. High-energy-low-focus manager will work you to death… without getting results. That is the moment when you have to say “No” to your manager. I am sure the guys is OK, he just need a managing hand, do not expect it from his manager. Help your manager to manage you. Show him that NOT doing this you can invest your time in doing THAT which is of much higher priority.
  • Purposeful. High-energy-high-focus manager. Oh… the dream manager. The guy who is passionate about what you do and help you focus to achieve real results. Keep searching for this guy, once you find him stick with him. Your growth is right there.


Oh, the customers. The bread and butter of any consultant. πŸ˜‰
When at customer’s it’s important to distinguish between personas that fall in these four categories. Otherwise you waste your time (read – you lose your money).

  • Procrastinators – Low-energy-low-focus customers will drive you nuts. The most common situation is that you just cannot start the gig since the guy cannot set with you expectations… and he seem to not care to. Wrap up the gig or escalate immediately (review Managers section to make sure which is the best….).
  • Disengaged – Low-energy-high-focus. This is guys do not care about the process. They convinced that once the contract is signed the rest is up to the consultant. The way out of such situation might be finding good allies at customer’s. Usually there are  – stick to them and lift them. They will lift you too. For example, when presenting results to the Disengaged customer say “Jim and I have done this and we have achieved that.” Jim is your guy, your ally at the customer’s.
  • Distracters – Imagine this. You are hit by the guy who takes over your quality time with “Oh, show me this, and show me that”, or “listen to this, last year…”, or “Here is what we did last time …”, or any other irrelevant distracting information. Listen to me and do the following. Smile, look directly in his eyes and ask to leave you alone explaining that otherwise his money would be spent on listening to his stories or on explaining each and every step you take. Ask him if this is what he wants. Keep looking directly in his eyes. Keep smiling gently. Worked?
  • Purposeful – Heaven. No explanations required. Such customers are worth to exceed the expectations. Not only it is worth it, you actually will be able to do so. Do it, and you will be rewarded by another gig at customer that you enjoy working. Is not it cool to get paid for having fun?

For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will – Henri Frederic Amiel

Practice This – Get Results

  • Categorize your manager. Is the guy Purposeful? No? – seems like you are on your own. Start manage your manager – set your own objectives, achieve it, push it up your management chain. Proactively!
  • Is you customer Purposeful? No? – stick to the schedule rigorously. Communicate often across the whole team. Ask (no, demand!) for the feedback during the gig – helps to spot the signs of getting off-track early and it could potentially save the gig from failure.

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10 Comments on "Consultants, Beware Of Procrastinators, Disengaged, And Distracters!"

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  1. Purposeful management & customers are great–yet that’s only a part of the success story!

    You may have had 12 managers in 14 years, but last fiscal year I had 5 managers–& they ran the gamut. Though I take full responsibility for managing my career, it sure is a lot easier with a purposeful manager, eh?

    And I propose that for a team such as I have now, the management type can reflect the team culture. My current management team, for example, is deeply engaged from top to bottom.

    It’s interesting to me that the need for management of expectations is inversely proportional from procrastinators to disengaged to distractors to purposeful. On the low hand we must methodically enumerate bullet points in the Statement of Work, it might take days to get credentials or access, & multiple meetings to get essential information. With purposeful customers, the engagement can take a life of its own in which doors are open, roadblocks are non-existent, & as we say at the jump zone, “Blue skies, baby!”

  2. J.D. Meier says:

    I like to think of managers using the situational leadership frame …

    … Effective managers are directing you when you need it, motivating it when you need it, and getting out of your way when you don’t need them.

  3. J.D., effective management is all too rare–at least in my experience. Perhaps that’s why I’m so grateful for good management.

  4. tom says:

    Great article and nice identified. It makes sense for us to take a step back and observe the people around us and determine what type they are and how to manage the situation.

  5. alik levin says:

    That is very precise description of what witness myself in the field and with managers πŸ˜‰

    Good frame. I am about to use it very soon ;)….

    Good to hear you liked it. It is also good to step back and take a look at myself and categorize myself too πŸ˜‰
    Am I purposeful?

  6. This is so thorough, there’s not much I could add. But just to say that this is so what I am going through when I practice my guitar. If I eliminate distractions and really work with purpose-driven intentional chunks of time – I totally get where I am going.

  7. alik levin says:

    This is good point. What makes me feel good about it is that it is universal practice – it seems to work for any area. It works in computers consulting that I am involved with and music like yourself πŸ˜‰

  8. Hi Alik – What a great observation. When we learn to read our superiors, peers and/or clients, we end up ahead of the competition.

    I love what JD said in his comment, especially “getting out of your way when you don’t need them.”

  9. alik levin says:

    Thanks for good words.
    The observation is JD’s – i just put it in practice πŸ˜‰

    As for me, there are two types of managers that get our of your way when you don’t need them – procrastinators and purposeful

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