Consulting Firm Archetypes Continued: FEAR Consulting

Last weekend, while at the Twin Cities Code Camp, over a few drinks some fellow consultants and I were able to share some “war stories” from our consulting pasts.

Boy, and I thought I might have ever had it bad.  Some fellow Magenicons (my former employer) described to me some experiences they had at employers prior to Magenic I can only describe as working for “FEAR Consulting”.  FEAR consulting is the kind of place that would truly make Machiavelli proud.  At FEAR, you report time in six minute increments.  Yes, six minute increments.  In other words, day-to-day biology has a role in your time report (for the uninitiated, they probably have a line item for “bathroom” when you submit time).  Everyone hates being micro-managed, but at FEAR, that would be an improvement over the nano-management you are subject to there.

True story – at FEAR, when you go to a colleague to ask them a question, you have to barter some of your billable time with another consultant who answered the question.  Which is a serious problem, because at FEAR, you do not get your full salary unless you bill 45 hours per week.  Or you have to make up the deficit with part of your two weeks of PTO you are allocated for the whole year.  Which adds up fast.  And god forbid you go on the bench… muhaaaaa… no vacation for you!

Now, god forbid you want to participate in, say, a code camp or a user group.  You, proud developer, even land a speaking engagement on your own time on a Saturday (if you have not been called in to work).  FEAR will, literally, tell you that you can’t go, since you are an agent of the company, and they want to keep their “trade secrets” in house.

Yes, life sucks at FEAR.  Why does anyone stay there?

Well, FEAR understands that you can go a long way by making people exhausted.  They make you feel bad about yourself, so that you don’t ever go anywhere else.  In fact, at FEAR, they are masters of telling you are worthless, that you could never do any better.  They are the corporate version of the guy who controls you by killing your self-esteem, and while occasionally giving you a carrot, otherwise continually beats you down with a stick.  If you worked for them in 1999, you had no idea the market was good, because the message at FEAR is that you are always replaceable, and if you ever make a mistake, you are done, and nobody in their right mind will hire you.

I previously wrote about BOZO Consulting.  Someone working for FEAR would be infinitely better off by getting a job at BOZO, which while they are indifferent towards your progress, FEAR actively hinders it so you never step out of line.  BOZO says don’t make mistakes or take risks, but might tolerate it if you do anyway.  FEAR will dock your pay if QA reports a bug.

There are companies that fit the archetype, but I would never name them, because they tend to have very active legal departments who love to intimidate by threatening to sue… something that as a humble blogger for a good company, is not in my best interest.

I wish I could use this post to reach out to employees of FEAR and tell them there is a better way (and of course, in the process, recruit them), but unfortunately, at FEAR, not only can’t you read blogs at work, but you hate your job so much you probably spend your time as far from a computer as possible.

Consulting Firm Archetypes Continued: FEAR Consulting