Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I worked for the same employer for almost thirty years. For the last
twenty I was the Human Resources Manager. That entailed monitoring
the emotional well-being of a staff of seventy-five, as well as ensuring
that shoot-from- the-hip executives did not land us in legal hot water
by making unenforceable promises, setting bad precedents, or hiring
disastrous applicants. I did a great job and was appreciated and well
compensated. I retired two years ago, but now realize that it would be
nice to have more money than I do. I have a chance to do some
consulting for a very up-and- coming business (in a completely
different industry) doing a survey of staff satisfaction and identifying
problems lurking beneath the surface. I seem to have parked my mojo
with my alarm clock. Do you have any tips fro finding or recreating it?


Dear Pinch-Hitter:

You’re like the actor who played only one role for your whole career
and fears you’ve forgotten that what works for that role will also work
for others. Here’s the bottom line: What made you good in your old
job will make you good as ac consultant. While you may have had a
network of established relationships that you relied upon in your old
job, when you walk in the door as a consultant you will be wearing a
cloak of competence and insight that will invest your presence with
authority. If the folks who own this new company are paying for you,
people will have an incentive to cooperate.

My suggestion is simple. Grab a clipboard and a bottle of wine. Spend
an afternoon/evening or two reviewing the highlights and low points of
your former career. Reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Which
situations you saved the company from harm and which were
intractable problems that kept causing hassles for the owners and
managers. These are not unique to one company, industry, or set of
people. Develop some simple checklists and questions that will help
you quickly get insights in the new company. Before you begin, ask
the manager who is bringing you in the door whom s/he considers the
most and least reliable sources of insight and information. Start with a
few of the best sources but don’t work all the way top down. Sprinkle
your interviews throughout the company. Keep them short and
informal, and let folks know you will be circling back. Promise
confidentiality so that people feel safe talking to you. Then tell the
manager what s/he needs to know. My guess is that you will love
doing this and have lots of fun. If not, do something else for more