Hello fellow consultants! All consultants, of all levels, have been unstaffed for one reason or another. Sometimes, a project wraps up in the middle of a week and the next does not start until the following week. Other times, there is a project that is a great fit that is slated for a week or two out and you need to fill in your time until it starts. Even more drastic, there is just not enough project work that can be allocated to your entire team. All in all, a consultant’s life can be very busy and hectic… project to project, often multiple projects at once. Then, with very to little warning, you find yourself in calm waters. What you do during these times brings out the creativity in you and your team?
There are many creative and productive ways you can spend your time while you are not billing for a project. Typically, you are already consistently looking for methods to continue to develop your skills, whether it be technical, behavioral, managerial, etc. These tasks can include taking classes, structured training, informal additional research, or learning material specifically geared towards a certification. When you are unstaffed, although your #1 goal is to work with your manager and team to get back on a project, you will want to beef up on all of the above! I don’t know about you, but there are really busy times that causes me to lose track of such developing tasks. What better time to get back on track with your development and try to build the habit while you have some extra free time!
What you do during these times brings out the creativity in you and your team!
Just recently, I rolled off a successful deployment and have been in between projects. I have been working really closely with my manager and team in regards to my development, while staying on their radar for available projects. In addition, I have reached out to my entire team, making myself available for anyone that may need help with their projects. I encourage you to do the same. Furthermore, it has proven to be a great time to take a step back to circle back with former clients and colleagues to get back in touch.
In an ideal world, you will want to limit your time unstaffed. It is typically not good for you, your manager, and your company as whole. When you are not billing, no one is making money and there is grave danger of simply being bored. However, it does happen. Just make the most of it while you are “on the bench” and always be ready to get back into it wherever and whenever you can.