12 Essential Guidelines for Successful Management Consulting Tasks
In the initial two years, management consulting can be demanding, requiring a commitment of 6-7 days a week and 10-15 hours a day. This guide shares 11 tips for working successfully as a management consultant.
1) Foster client relationships by being friendly and likable: Regardless of your partner or business analyst role, seek allies on the client’s side. Connect with individuals at all levels, including assistants, experts, and top managers who drive the company. Instead of solely focusing on directors, CEOs, and owners (who may not be the most exciting people in the organisation), build rapport with key influential individuals. As a consultant, your job quality and likability determine whether clients will value and pay for your services.
2) Stay ahead of your employer and the customer: Proactivity is crucial in consulting. If you recognise the need for specific analysis before your supervisor requests it, take the initiative to complete it. Otherwise, you may be overwhelmed with unexpected requests closer to the deadline, increasing your workload exponentially.
3) Prepare in advance: Many late nights result from tasks that could have been completed earlier. After experiencing my fair share of sleepless nights, successful management consultants learn to deliver client data requests 1-2 months ahead. You can alleviate unnecessary stress by having an issue tree, presentation templates, and a to-do list ready on the first day of the project. Although the initial draft may require adjustments, being well-prepared allows you to relax. Planning earns you respect and enables you to focus on critical business matters and understand your clients’ industries more comprehensively.
4) Outsource when possible: With the demanding workload, there is little time for anything outside work. Maximise your efficiency by outsourcing cooking, cleaning, driving, and data collection and analysis. For instance, you can avoid driving by dozing off on trains or planes or hiring a driver. Or you can even hire someone, using your resources, to collect data on your behalf. Instead of handling data collection, you can occasionally involve the client, fostering a stronger relationship. In some instances, you could request the client to assemble a team of employees, optimising the procedures and benefiting both parties. This win-win scenario can allow a big project to be completed in days instead of months. Be strategic and resourceful to work smart and efficiently.
5) Prioritize effectiveness: Consulting is an excellent school for efficiency. Employ productivity techniques derived from management consulting to work faster. You can significantly increase your efficiency by developing templates and modules, following the 80/20 rule, and utilising to-do lists for both the team and the client.
6) Ensure sufficient sleep: While sleeping less or forgoing rest altogether may seem tempting (as it provides a few extra hours), it is counterproductive. Lack of sleep diminishes your productivity due to exhaustion. Aim to get at least 6.5 hours of sleep, and consider taking a nap after lunch for additional rejuvenation.
7) Ensure you are adequately insured. If you’re operating as a freelancer or running your management consultancy, ensure you have sufficient management consultant insurance to safeguard you against any risks.
8) Encourage swift action: People often delay their work until the last minute, leading to projects needing to be completed by the deadline. Counteract this tendency by setting short deadlines and consistently reminding yourself and the team of them. Never stop pushing, as someone else will fill the void if you don’t, potentially causing delays in your work.
9) Limit frequent trips home: Counterintuitive as it may seem, staying where your client is based rather than returning home makes more sense, especially for projects in foreign cities or countries. Going back and forth between home and the client’s location consumes valuable time and energy while also creating the need to compensate for missed time with your family. Minimise unnecessary stress by returning home every two to three weeks, allowing for better focus and work-life balance.
10) Prioritize nutrition and exercise: Just like any machine, your body requires maintenance. Ensure you eat healthy meals three to four times daily and incorporate exercise into your routine. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle supports your overall well-being and enhances productivity.
11) Simplify and avoid getting overwhelmed by details: Business can often appear complex, overwhelming individuals with many factors that could impact the situation. To tackle this, intentionally focus on one to three key drivers while disregarding others. This approach allows you to identify what truly matters and adequately frame the problem.
12) Hone your skills and tools: As a consultant, sharpening your skills is vital. Familiarise yourself with the critical methodologies used by consultants and business analysts, master the fundamentals of Excel, and become proficient in constructing financial models. Utilise slow seasons to improve in these areas, enabling you to work more efficiently on future projects.
Remember, applying these guidelines will help you navigate management consulting tasks successfully. You can excel in this demanding but rewarding profession by adopting strategic approaches, prioritising well-being, and continuously developing your skills.