flexible work and alternative-path programs such as
opportunities for part-time, home working, or even
internal job rotation to provide flexibility in balancing
the needs of both work and life, as just one of their
routes for flexible working.
Programs such as this are invaluable to employees
as they generate ‘workplace happiness’. The Harvard
Business Review has conducted a decade of research
which demonstrates that happiness increases nearly
every business and educational outcome: raising sales
by 37 percent, productivity by 31 percent, and accuracy
on tasks by 19 percent.
n Professional Development
In many cases, consultants stay in the industry due
to their love of the profession, the ability to drive
change and work with a wide variety of people and
clients. In order to retain this motivation, a clear
path of progression is essential to avoid feelings of
stagnation. As a firm that has great appreciation for
both culture and progression; A. T. Kearney is aware
that long-term success depends upon the individual
progression of consultants and makes every effort
to accelerate the progress of consultants along a
clearly defined career path.
Advances can be made as rapidly as abilities allow.
The firm was also recognized as a ‘Top Employer for
Career Progression’ in 2014 in the ‘Top Employer’
Awards. The Boston Consulting Group also offers
unique programs for top performers that reward top
talent at the firm, such as ‘The Strategy Institute’—a
special international project team that develops a long-term look at strategy and competitive advantage.
To ensure their employees are actively striving
to improve, top tier consultancy firms implement an
‘up or out’ policy. Formal performance reviews are
given at the end of every project, where consultants
must demonstrate that they have developed their
skillset in the desired capacity, otherwise there may
be a suggestion for ‘Exit’. As an alternative approach,
McKinsey & Company has a ‘subject matter expert
track’, which moves consultants into specialist
practices—indicating a more ‘grow or go’ attitude,
which in turn improves employee morale and adds to
a culture of collective growth and development.
n Team Spirit
Many tasks within consulting require co-operation
between team members, for example; project planning
and execution. In an approach to addressing the team
work objective, The Boston Consulting Group worked
with Professor Leslie Perlow of Harvard Business School
to create a global program called PTO (Predictability,
Teaming, and Open Communication). PTO establishes
a detailed road map for every BCG project.
These maps include transparent working norms
and priorities and a collectively agreed-on time-off
goal for each team member. The idea is to build a
deeper understanding of how to manage complex
projects, connect more deeply with colleagues and
clients, and build the teamwork and leadership skills
of BCG consultants.
Hiring people that share drive and determination
is a great starting point for fostering team spirit and
creating a collaborative team culture. Firms also
practice morale building strategies, such as organizing
group activities to bring staff closer together such as
all consultant meetings.
Bain & Company also participates in a cooperative working style that emphasizes teamwork,
trust and tolerance for diverging opinions, which
is driven by the company's “one team” structure.
In an industry with such high opposition rates, the
collaboration and partnership between team members
can be a significant factor in successful and effective
project management, which ensures they can triumph
collectively against competitors.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Working within a firm with a culture that fits their
personality can have a major impact an individual’s
professional development. A strong cultural fit can allow
individuals to feel at “home”, grow as an employee,
learn new skills and take on further responsibility.
This benefits both the firm and the individual, allowing
them to grow and develop together.
Culture is a boundless mediating factor in firm
accomplishment. It should be respected and valued,
the ripple effects of a firm with a great culture are
directly correlated to performance and success,
including efficiency and earnings. Once the culture is
learned within a business, it lays the foundation for
direction, aspiration and objective for the future.
As Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How
Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action has
said: “When people are financially invested, they
want a return. When people are emotionally invested,
they want to contribute.”
Fiona McKenzie-Wilde is a Research Executive at IRG Executive
Search and Selection.