10 tips for future consultant managers

Aug 14 2019 · Consulting

Written by: Eleonore Hammare

Working as a consultant manager is fun, exciting and developing. It is a role that requires you to think as both a manager and a leader. Normally you won’t have your employees around you on a daily basis, and consultants are expected to be independent individuals.

During my years as a consultant manager, I have received a considerable amount of feedback about things that are important to think about in the role. Here are my top 10 tips on how to succeed as a consultant manager.

1. Weekly newsletter – send out a weekly email/newsletter at a set time each week, and use it to provide information about what is happening at the company, a brief status update regarding the ongoing sales work, and what your agenda looks like during the week ahead. Highlight any successes the company has achieved in relation to individual assignments. This creates a sense of cohesion and fellowship and enables the consultants to be well informed about, and to feel like they are part of, the company’s activities and what you are focusing your time on.

2. Follow up – maintain regular contact with your employees by following up ongoing assignments and the status of potential future projects. It is often the character and nature of the assignments that determine whether a consultant stays with the company or chooses to make a career change.

3. Regular feedback – create a tool, a routine, that supports the development of your consultants by providing them with regular feedback. You should also request feedback about how your consultants perceive your leadership. Try to formulate open questions, for example, ”how do you feel…”, ”what is working well…”, ”what needs to be improved…”, ”what is enjoyable/boring/challenging…”, etc.

4. Close customer relationships – maintain close contact with your customers, and not just when it’s time to discuss a contract extension or when you see an opportunity for upselling. Customers appreciate when you show that you care about them, that you are there for them, and that you can contribute to a dialogue through which the customer has an opportunity to get things off their chest with regard to organisational challenges they are facing or various aspects of their role. Listen to your customers and try to act as a sounding board; it is extremely valuable and creates a relationship of trust and confidence!

5. Leadership at a distance – decide how you will handle the issue of providing leadership at a distance. Being a leader for a team of consultants is largely a case of providing leadership at a distance. You don’t get to meet them on a daily basis, and the consultants are expected to be able to manage their assignments with a great degree of independence. In today’s modern society it is no great secret that a key to success is the ability to use available technology in an appropriate and effective manner. If, for example, email is your primary channel of communication, it is important to make sure that you reply to emails on a timely basis and that you are readily available via that channel. If other forms of communication are used, such as a chat forum, telephone or something else, discuss the use of such tools in advance so that everyone’s expectations are set at the right level.

6. Celebrate successes – talk about new assignments that have been won, projects that have been successfully completed and delivered, words of appreciation from customers and everything that contributes to creating a culture of success. Celebrate successes with joy and pride; doing so creates the basis for an enjoyable work atmosphere, as well as the reputation of being a rewarding and fun company to work for.

7. Take a coffee break – is it difficult finding time to get together? Then arrange a breakfast or an afternoon coffee break on the way to or from work. With a little effort it should be easy enough to find a time and location that suits you both. This sort of interaction is pleasant, effective, relaxed and (hopefully) delicious!

8. Clarify the company’s vision – illustrate where the company is heading, and share the vision held by the Board and management team. Doing so builds a sense of fellowship and belonging and clarifies and enhances the company’s overall vision. It also gives the consultant an opportunity to choose to buy into that vision and to work actively to achieve it, or to go to another company with a vision that is perhaps more in line with that particular consultant’s view of the future.

9. Team meetings – since the consultants are out on their individual assignments and do not see each other on a daily basis, it is important to arrange team meetings from time to time. It could be a monthly meeting in the evening, a breakfast meeting every Friday, or whatever suits your particular company best. Such team meetings are the perfect opportunity to provide information about what is happening at the company, and the consultants usually also appreciate being able to get together for something to eat/drink and to share a laugh or two and spend some quality time in each other’s company.

10. Show enjoyment and dedication – talk about your views on various things, share your personal reflections and spread positive messages. Doing so generates positive energy and creates a sense of enjoyment at work.

(Photo: Region Sörmland)

Guest blogger - Head of Region Sörmland's IT organization, Sweden.

Eleonore has a background and experience as IT manager and CIO, consultant and CEO of consulting companies in the finance and insurance, real estate and healthcare industry. Eleonore is also active in board of directors, mentoring assignments and writes blogs and chronicles. She has published the leadership book Sunt Förnuft (”Common Sense”).

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