Performance reviews: In management consulting, there are performance reviews going on constantly. No seriously. . . constantly. Consulting readers, please disagree. A review for every project. A mid-year review. A year-end review.
- To the optimist, this is an ideal scenario because there is near constant feedback
- To the pessimist, this is an onerous task for all those involved
While I only have the benefit of working in two consulting groups, the process generally followed this path. Goal setting at the beginning of the year, lots of project reviews (2-5 a year), year-end review with your manager/counselor/advocate, then a consensus meeting in the spring to determine where you fare on the distribution of your grade
Goal Setting. Super important – but typically what you write down on the official paper is just a fraction of what your real goals are. Slight sand-bagging going on here, but of course a great opportunity to see what the partners and principals have planned in the year. Find the white spaces be indispensable. As Seth Godin says, be a linchpin.
Project reviews. Get these done. Don’t let your manager “mail it in” and be lazy. Document what you do, what you did, and the impact your made to the client. The more detailed these are, the easier the year-end process will be for you.
For the managers out there. . . take this #$^@ seriously. Be specific and helpful. Remember the #1 reason people leave their job is because of their boss (manager).
Year-end. This is just painful every year. It is an awkward mix of braggadocio & self-effacing comments. At the end of the day, your utilization and sales need to be high. Lots of practice-development and firm activities. Senior managers, principals and partners must know who you are and want to staff you.
Consensus: There is a rating and ranking process for everyone in the firm. There is a short review/discussion of each person’s performance and then there is a comparison with others in his/her pay-grade or title (e.g., analysts are grouped, managers are grouped etc. . ). As shown in the pyramid below, each person is welcome to participate in the review of those below them in the organization. Partners will sit in on all reviews, while senior managers will sit in on the manager, consultant and analyst reviews.
You learn a lot about people in these meetings. Having sit in on these before, it does sometimes have the feel of a “tribe of elders” or a popularity contest. While there are rules against explicitly cheer-leading for your favorites, this inevitably happens. You see where the friendship, alliances are. You feel who has the passion for the culture of the firm. You see who is selfish or distracted by the process.
Generally, I am a fan on this process, even though it has not always gone my way. Consulting partnerships are about communication, alignment, and driving firm culture. This is just one of the ways to keep a diverse, disparate group of overly ambitious people working together. Necessary evil.