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A little background: I am the technical team lead of a group of consultants (all in one group). One of our junior consultants had a quite complicated technical contact person at the customer side. This contact person demands full control, yet later refuses responsibility for his own decisions and tries to play the blame game, and most recently has cut us off from the informations in his part of the project. He will have an extreme collision on Tuesday with his boss and the customer project lead about the state of the area he is responsible for (he has a huge conflict in the project).

It is my firm opinion that we (the consultants) have been dragged into this conflict much too far - I need to put a stop to that. I neither want to protect the guy for his mistakes and negligence, nor do I want to actively hamper with his career.

So I need some good possible ideas on how to tackle it.

(The person in question is also very problematic in communication)

A small follow up I followed the suggestion (i thought about going in that direction), brought my junior colleagues in line, took over for two weeks, put some things back on track. The customer took away the authority but left him the title in the project (for political reasons - I may post another question regarding that) from the problematic person.

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I've been in both your position and in the junior consultant's position.

First - You need to "own" your team. And everybody is going to have to take some blame home with them. Pick yours, now:

"I should have stepped in much earlier when this started being an issue. I should have made the project leader aware of this issue earlier. I take responsibility for those mistakes."

Because, honestly, you should have, and by "choosing your fault," you've admitted that you aren't perfect, and have left what ISN'T your problem on the table to be dealt with.

Next, back your junior consultant:

"As contractors, Junior Consultant was doing what all of us do: following customer instructions. Junior Consultant may not have managed the communication as best as they could have, but that's why they're a junior consultant. Again, I should have been directly involved with this issue much earlier."

Now comes the hard part: SHUT UP! Answer the questions asked that you have data on, but don't opine on internal management of your customer. Sit there, be quiet, and let them run their organization.

  • Well this is good for how to handle Tuesday, but not in the future. The problematic customer contact isn't going to suddenly change. So in the future I'd document every contact via e-mail back to him. – MaxW Aug 5 '18 at 2:05
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    @MaxW, I read this question several times. Not sure if they're asking about the Tuesday meeting or overall strategy. I picked one possibility and went with it. Feel free to tackle the other option. I'l probably upvote it. – Wesley Long Aug 5 '18 at 2:08
  • Good answer, overall strategy is exactly what was apologised about, get involved more, take ownership of the team especially anything potentially problematic. – Kilisi Aug 5 '18 at 7:46

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