Managers assume too much. We get busy and think to ourselves, “I have seen this problem before, I know what to do, why don’t you get it?”  We (falsely) assume junior consultants should know what we know.  Silly bias.  As result, expectations can be high. It is management consulting, right?

Exceed expectations. We work with the best – and if you are one of them – you excel in large and small things. You made it this far, and honestly, rarely failed. Yes, this can difficult, and tiring.  Yes, it requires thoughtfulness, skill, and a point of view. We want great; good is too easy.

I would argue that management consulting attracts people who like the fact that there is a high bar. We thrive on the eustress.  After all, it’s kinda fun to win.

Good is predictable. As consulting managers we are accustomed to “good work”. If you do crappy work, you will not be in consulting long. There is a long vetting process (think: case interviews) to take the top 3% of people.  That said, “good work” is boring, robotic, and soul-less. Ask for ABC, and get A.B.C.  Reliable, but nothing more.  Simply A.B.C.

Great varies. This really depends on the goal and the people, but here is an example from a recent interaction with a junior consultant.

  • Defines scope: Double-confirms what is required. Considers what success looks like, and reverse engineers the timeline, activities, assumptions, and risks.  Yes, geek.
  • Gets it done: Reliably gets the work done . . .
  • Provides (personal, thoughtful) value: Does something more (double checks with another SME, provides instructional information, provides alternatives).

Think 2-3 steps ahead. This gives me (as a manager) the feeling that it is under control, and will be done better than if I did it myself. Yes, I gave guidance. Yes, I was clear with instructions and expectations. Yes, we work together as a team. Yes, I am glad I delegated the work – because the result was better.

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