When you are not on an engagement, it is not that much different from being between jobs. People have a belief at the back of their minds that if someone is good, everyone will be trying to staff such individual on an engagement. So here it goes, the 10 insights of what should you focus on to make the first engagement in your new consulting firm a success and hopefully build a strong foundation for a prosperous career at the firm. Know more about the subject matter related to the engagement than anyone else on the team.
Speak with industry experts, watch videos about the industry or topic and read relevant publications, reports and even books. Go beyond the basic understanding that is expected of you on the engagement. Remember that other members of the team may be more familiar with the subject matter. They may have done similar engagements before or they may have acquired relevant or useful knowledge in other ways. However, remember that you will need to invest a lot more time and effort than the rest of the team if you are starting from the lower base and want to be a person on the team who understands the subject matter better than anyone else on the team.
I remember once being on the engagement with an industry expert and about 6 weeks into the engagement I knew things about the industry that he did not know and I could articulate this knowledge intelligently in meetings. He became complacent and relied on the knowledge accumulated over many, many years. I had knowledge about most recent developments in the industry by reading extensively during evenings and weekends, and having conversations with industry experts. Such extensive research allowed me to build enough background knowledge on the industry to hold intelligent conversations and take advantage of the up-to-date information I acquired.
If this will make you feel better, I also did not know any industry experts at the start of the engagement in question.
When You're More Qualified Than The Boss
I researched who will be good people to engage and just called them. If you reach out to 5 people, at least one of them most likely will find the time to share with you at least some useful information. Going this extra mile will be vital in accelerating your management consulting career, as you will be seen as a person who exhibits qualities of a high flyer and should be developed. Get your hands on previous deliverables for similar engagements done by your firm.
See what was done on this subject by rival strategy consulting firms or other relevant organizations. Look at exceptional quality deliverables done on related topics. However, there is also a bonus advantage.
If you have examples of previous deliverables, you often may be able to use it as a base for deliverables on your current engagement. Having access to previous deliverables power point presentations, word documents or even excel models may often save you time when you put together deliverables. For example, it is always takes significantly less time if you use exceptional slides from other engagements as a base and adopt it to your specific purpose. Here I am referring specifically to design of the slides and not to the content.
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Never ever copy content since you are actually stealing from a client in such a case. They are paying you for work you have not done and it is a betrayal of trust.
Time is very limited and there is no reason to build slides from scratch when you can use something as a base. Beyond that, not everyone has good sense of style and design. You may know what good looks like but may not have a skill or even sufficient talent to replicate it from scratch. This is when previous deliverables used as a base become very handy. By looking at other deliverables you can also ensure you have not missed any important content tips. Talk to senior people within the firm but outside of your engagement team.
Senior people will less likely see you as competition, especially if you are more than one level down. They are more likely to give you honest and helpful advice on how to succeed within this firm and on this specific engagement. They may share some intelligence on people on your team as well. This can be very useful in finding the way to productively work with your engagement team.
For example, your engagement manager may be known for being excessively focused on face time. He or she may watch carefully what time study team individuals get to the office in the morning and use it as a benchmark for how hard working and committed someone is. I knew a manager like this. If this is the case, you can ensure you are the first person to arrive in the morning. It is a low hanging fruit that will help you establish your reputation with an engagement manager.
Why not to grab it? Another engagement manager may not be focused on face time at all but instead have very specific preferences for design and content of power point presentations.
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I knew a manager like this as well. If this is the case, you can get copies of presentations done on previous engagements led by this manager and use them as a guide. It may sound as going too far at trying to please someone, but to build a successful management consulting career you need to be shrewd. You need to combine doing outstanding work for the client and the firm with playing the game. How do companies make sure that this works in a large distributed organization with hundreds or even thousands of middle managers?
They do it through internal communications with your frontline employees. Customer experience is the most pressing mandate for marketers. It was the top area of marketing technology investment in , and it led innovation spending again in A Gartner survey has found that 89 percent of companies were expected to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36 percent in Great brands are built from the inside out. Start with your employees and their satisfaction and confidence will be mirrored directly onto your customers.
Timely and careful communication is key to mastering an internal or external crisis. The way that your employees and external stakeholders view an incident negatively, neutrally, or positively is a major factor in whether or not the incident develops into a full-blown crisis. However, internal crisis communication research has found that managers often communicate significantly less with employees during a crisis.
Are You a High Potential?
By putting organizational structure, plans, and channels in place before a crisis hits, internal communication will allow you to handle crisis situations, no matter the size, reputation, or industry of your company. A better work environment will help companies on two fronts: Avoiding high turnover rates, and attracting new talent.
Millennials in particular are known to job-hop. Informal communication has its advantages and disadvantages. In addition, the grapevine helps to improve relationships between employees and it spreads knowledge and tips that can make work more effective. Good internal communication can help increase the advantages of informal communication. Employees put a high premium on transparency in their interactions with different levels of management, going as far as naming it the top factor in determining their happiness and satisfaction in the workplace.
Providing both—a rumor-free environment and transparency—is central for a generation of employees and customers who are skeptical to the core. Effective internal communication is a powerful force that leads to a 40 percent increase in customer satisfaction, a 30 percent increase in profitability, and a 36 percent increase in the overall performance of a company. In fact, 87 percent of the participants expected budgets to either remain at present levels or increase.
How is your organization dealing with the changes in internal company communication? Use this opportunity to gather more insights on the travel requirement. Find out how many days a week you are required to travel. Identify whether the travel will be local or international travel or both.
Unleash the Flow of Information
Find out the typical travel destinations as well. Signify that you understand that this job requires traveling and that you have done similar traveling in previous roles. Show you level of comfort with traveling. I regularly traveled to international countries to meet clients and make sales presentations and solicit orders.
Deciding to relocate is a difficult decision. There are many factors to weigh and consider prior to moving from one location to another. Some things to analyze include where would you be relocating to — is it a domestic relocation from one city or state to another or is it an international relocation from one country to another?
Another factor to consider would be the length of the relocation.