{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Goddamn, I don't want to compromise my integrity but my engagement manager and my manager are pressuring me to eat billable hours because we're over budget and we don't want to anger the client. Fts.", "post_id": "5fce96d28c40fc001a6dce59", "reply_count": 26, "vote_count": 1, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d051", "bowl_name": "Consulting" }

Goddamn, I don't want to compromise my integrity but my engagement manager and my manager are pressuring me to eat billable hours because we're over budget and we don't want to anger the client. Fts.

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Why eat billable hours when you could eat food? Pose this to the EM

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Basically equating your time to food. Which is true. And puts their request into perspective. This is normal in industry but still sad.

Your managers can always just write off the time and not bill the client for it. Sounds like they did a poor job of forecasting level of effort so I don’t think this is something you should suffer for. That being said, these are nuanced scenarios so maybe you can discuss what you can do within the remaining budget (if there is anything left)?

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CYA with the classic "understood, can help me make sure I don't exceed our hours" Basically, break down your work and work quality into time required. If you say over email that "x will take this long in order to do abc" and ask how they recommend you rebalance to meet budget, any flak falls on them. Did they tell you to skip steps? It's documented. Did they tell you to put something else on a backburner? It's documented. Did they straight up ask you to lie? It's hella documented.

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You charge what you work. Leadership decides what to bill. Let leadership make the decision to eat your hours, not you. Am I wrong here?

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I don't understand why they would want people to eat hours and thus get inaccurate engagement margins. If your margin is too low, then the firm can rectify that and/or use your resources somewhere else. A good manager doesn't lie to higher ups about engagement margin, they acknowledge their issues and fix them or accept their limitations.

Welcome to consulting.

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This is pretty standard despite what anyone says

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You can log them to a Code where you have visibility of those hours even though they are treated as internal but they still count.

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I think different organizations have different mentalities about this - it seems commonplace at various companies. Meanwhile, at my firm, if I found out one of my managers was asking team members to eat their hours, I’d try to have that manager fired.

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This is a firm culture question. At a prior firm, we all billed 40 regardless. At GT, management is pretty good about billing what you work, and not eating hours. Talk to some trusted peers and decide. Overall, you're probably screwed. If you eat hours, you lose out on util%. If you record your actual hours or report your manager to your firm's professional standards team (assuming you are at a firm big enough to have one), management trashes your review, and they won't staff you again. Losing out on a bit of utilization will be less costly to your bonus (which could be small due to covid) and professional prospects at your firm. Assume that you will be only booking 40. You can either try to reduce workload to fit into 40, or work out a deal where you go above and beyond but you want that stated clearly in stellar reviews. PS, this is also about your manager not wanting to take a margin hit on the project, not just about upsetting the client with higher costs. Basically, every hour you work is billed to the client, or it hurts project margin, or you eat the hour.

likesmart

Tell your manager the United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists

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Welcome to professional services. Sometimes the most bizarre things make the client happy. I have posted before I had a client that would unravel if I charged less than 40 hours so regardless of my other activities I would do 40 every week.

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In my experience, this depends on your management. I've actually never worked for anyone in 7 years of consulting who asked me to, pressured me to, or in any way seemed to support eating hours. When another team asked me to, my partner stepped in to tell them I would absolutely not be eating my hours and they should have budgeted better.

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Any advice? Is this industry typical? I'm annoyed bc it impacts my utilization and I'm clearly DOING the work. Do I need a reality check? Idk.

No, go to a partner. CYA.

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Will you get higher pay if you bill higher hours? How does showing higher utilisation benefit you? If the seniors know that you are doing the work, aren't they the main audience of your work for performance review and future opportunities? When the client anyway is not going to pay the extra cost, why put everyone in a position where a lot of justification would be needed around the extra hours and for nothing?

My bonus and my performance is measured by how well I can hit my utilization.

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Did you proactively raise the concern that you were going to go over on hours or did management find out retroactively? If this is the case, management still shouldn’t ask you to eat hours, but i would suggest for your career growth to lay off billing some. If you’re not raising a concern early, and then it creates a mess for management to deal with after, you’re not making a great reputation. Management ignoring your warnings or asks, or asking you to eat hours because of others- that’s a different situation.

This is a great response. I can work through anything if I know about it upfront. The ones that drive me bonkers are the 20-25% over billers that don’t mention anything, it just shows up in the burn report. Remember, consulting is a politics game, build allies not enemies. Your reputation will precede you and you’ll be locked out of teams and roles you want before you even know they exist if you’re known as a problem starter

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