The Economist says that the consulting industry, in general, is bouncing back after a wretched 2009. (“Consulting bounces back: Advice for Consultants,” June 2, 2011.) But the clients have changed. They drive harder bargains, expect better consultants, and put them to work next to their own staff, says the Economist.

Sheila Shanker, CPA, an experienced consultant, has some practical advice about how to be a better consultant when you’re working closely with staff: “I have seen more than one consultant to forget his role in a business and become part of the rumor mill and lose track of the objective, which is to help a client. My guess is that some people want to “belong” and feel part of a team and in order to do that, they align themselves with the staff, losing objectivity in the process and becoming part of the problem.”

Where have you seen consultants in accounting disciplines go astray?

Sheila Shanker, CPA, MBA is a consultant with 15 years of experience, including internal controls, SOX, teaching, and consulting. Her articles have been published in national magazines including the Journal of Accountancy.