I will admit, management consulting is a world of its own. After spending several years in management consulting, I’ve picked up some things worth sharing- these are things that I’ve learned sometimes the easy way, and sometimes the hard way.
1. Research, then respond
When asked a query that they aren’t equipped to answer, management consultants often tend to go off on a tangent about the subject, even if they have little backing, in a futile attempt to convince the client. Instead of such a response, say that you’ll get back to them, do your required additional research, and then do get back to them. The client always appreciates it, and they don’t expect you to know everything.
2. Impart concise info
Being concise and straight to the point is gold. Sure, every once in a while, people like to hear the context and the bigger picture, but in many instances they just want a simple answer: short and sweet. So drop the detail habit, and save everyone precious time.
3. Don’t jump to “Yes!”
Consultants (veterans and fresh recruits) tend to have the habit of saying yes to all client (external) and senior (internal) requests. This leaves consultants with very little time to focus on their key value add, and thus dilutes their efforts across all their activities and makes them slip on deadlines. Be bold, be unafraid, and get your priorities straight.
4. Time well spent
You’ve probably heard this one before, but adopting the 80/20 rule is something that will make both your life and your client’s life easier. Your client doesn’t care for a perfectly designed slide that can be placed in the Louvre and scrutinized by 10 overpaid bankers and experts. They want something that makes sense for their business. Spend time on determining what is relevant to the client, than polishing and refining that information.
5. Meet for a purpose
Don’t over meet. A lot of times, we end up just preparing for meetings, conducting meetings, and following up on meetings and their minutes. Yes, you need that alignment meeting every week or so, but don’t make it a compulsive habit. That time can be used to actually do the next steps! Still adamant on those daily meetings? Visit The Economic Impact of Bad Meetings for more on this.
6. Change may be necessary
A lot of consultants tend to repeat the same mistakes that their seniors have made while they were in their positions. Change. Do things differently. Don’t assume that just because that’s the way things are, it should be the same routine going forward. Be conscious of the fact that improvements on systems can be made.
7. Drop the industry lingo
Consultants love their jargon- the problem is that it’s only them who understands it. Don’t overuse jargon, since most of the time the best presentations and messages are the simplest ones. Avoid over-the-top phrases; we will all be happier and we will all get more done.
8. Don’t overanalyze
Many times you’ll sit at your cubicle and in your team rooms for days and weeks brainstorming all possible scenarios and crafting assumptions, only to find out that some of these are irrelevant to the context of your client engagement. Talk to the client, probe, and most importantly, question before developing the “what-if” list.