elearning role

Do You Know What Role You Play?

For years I would get frustrated when I was on projects where I was just an extension of the client’s staff. I would get paid to sit in there office and work on various projects that needed to be completed. I would bring my expertise and skill set and typically help them learn something new about the e-learning process or industry, but I didn’t truly feel like I was adding the kind of value I knew I could.
I remember reaching out to my peers and wondering if there was something wrong with me because this just didn’t seem to be the way I wanted to work, even though that is what the majority of them were doing.
It wasn’t until I took a step back and realized that there are many different types of ways someone can work with clients. In my opinion, there are three main roles that you may play as an independent consultant, contractor or even employee.
A Consultant’s role is to look at the big picture. It is to partner with the client to faciltate and lead them through a process. They hire you because you have a particular method or process that will help them accomplish what they need to complete.
Extra Pair of Hands:
The EPOH role is really to be an extension of the team. A department/client comes to you because they don’t have enough resources and they want your help. You are coming in to help out and complete the work.
An Expert’s role you are coming in to provide them with your expertise. This is typically due to a lack on internal skill or knowledge in the particular thing you will be helping with. You are coming in to teach or guide them in the right direction because you are the one with the expertise.
There is no wrong role, just roles that may fit the way you want to work better than others. But it is very important to know which role you WANT to play as well as which one you are actually playing on a project or in your work.

If you want to play a particular role, it is important that you lead with that role and be clear as to the roles on the team.

–For example, if you feel frustrated because you want to lead as an expert but the manager or client keeps providing you direction and setting expectations as to what needs to happen next, you may have found yourself in an Extra Pair of Hands (EPOH) role.

–Another example is if you have been hired as a developer and you are planning on joining a team where you will work with others to complete a project (EPOH) and the client gives you complete independence to “run” with the project they have probably put you in an expert role.

–Or If you have a process that you will take the client through as a result of your work you are probably a consultant, but the client keeps asking you to complete the work based on their process there is definitely a mismatch (EPOH).

What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced something similar? Tell us your story below in the comments.

2 Responses

  1. I have always kept these role distinctions in mind as I talk with clients. As you said, none are wrong unless there is a mismatch of expectations. It is helpful to explore these with some key questions during the contracting meeting.

    1. Absolutely! Thanks for the comment, Julie. It is amazing that a mismatch occurs so frequently without asking those important questions at the beginning of a project!