What does a management consultant do anyway? Are they needed? Do they communicate real value to companies they work with? All of these questions ask valid questions. Management consultants can, at times, be vague and offer non-specific results of their work. This is not how I conduct my consulting business. Here are fourteen specific and valuable actions I take to assist companies in functioning better for their employees and customers.
1) Instruct management teams to create a consistent, constant purpose for their employees.
If there are employees whose objectives and tasks conflict with one another, this is an issue. Management Consultants teach managers how to create specific objectives that apply for all workers.
2) Teach leadership teams to encourage ethical practices by not offering bonuses and realize they are in control, not the workers.
When leaders are taught that they are in control of outcomes, not the workers, it instills a sense of urgency in communicating effectively to team members. Management Consultants show leaders that they are responsible for issues in their team, not the workers. This makes leaders take minor issues seriously instead of letting them go. This creates a less stressful work environment for employees, where they feel as though their qualms matter to their superiors.
3) Show management that quality must be ascertained now, not through correcting mistakes later.
Leaders need to know that they need to take the time and money to create a quality product now instead of getting it out, seeing there are issues with it, and then changing the product/service after the fact. This change will certainly take more effort, but in the long-run, it will create more wealth for the company. Management Consultants teach companies why this is important with hard facts, not just vague, positive sayings.
4) Teach leadership to not chase nickels and dimes with ever-increasing prices of products and services.
Major overhauls of pricing structure to meet company demands is one thing, increasing prices by pennies every year or month is another. Where real wealth comes from is long-term relationships with vendors and contractors. Management Consultants teach this so that leaders don’t focus on the wrong goals, making their employees work harder for less important priorities.
5) Instruct management on how to reduce variation in products/services.
Nothing, even machinery, is perfect. Machines can create slight variations in products even when they are programmed to be exact. Leadership needs to pay attention to this so that marketing efforts are communicating the right messages to consumers about what they offer. Management Consultants teach leaders how to specifically reduce variation in their products and services according to in-depth production analyses at each company.
6) Teach leadership teams how to give on-the-job training throughout the duration of one’s career.
Leaders who do not continually train their employees will find their employees are undervalued. Employees who feel appreciated for not only their work, but also for their strengths that they bring to the table, will feel as though the company cares for their professional development as a person, not just an employee.
Management consultants teach bosses how to become leaders that look like this:
Stay tuned in a couple of weeks for part two!
Leadership takes on various titles and personalities. Leaders can come from any race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, and socioeconomic status. What makes a leader is not his/her title or background, but rather, his/her ability to harness and exude the following characteristics.
1. A leader is self aware.
Leaders are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They know when to reach out for help and who they should reach out to for that help. They understand the power of delegation and recognize when someone is strong where they are weak.
2. A leader shows his/her authority through actions not just words or title.
Leaders do not take their title for granted. They know that leadership is a privilege not a right. They do not use their tenure and experience as the sole purpose for why they get to make decisions. Leaders earn their title and trust not demand it.
3. A leader can confront others.
Leaders know how to kindly and authoritatively effect change in a company. They do not demand others to act or speak. They encourage, ask questions, and suggest change with a sense of sincerity, support, and authority. This type of leadership encourages employees to come to them with problems and suggest solutions without fearing immediate wrath, discipline, or rejection.
4. A leader knows when to take a firm standing and when to change his/her mind.
Leaders are not always popular. The phrase, “It’s lonely at the top,” often applies to leaders. Sometimes, leaders need to make tough decisions that they believe will truly be best for the majority of employees, the company, and the company’s consumer audience.
5. A leader leads by example.
Leaders exemplify the phrase, “Monkey see monkey do.” If leaders yell and scream to get their way, employees will often follow suit. If leaders take short-cuts in work and diminish quality, employees will think it is okay to do so, as well. Leaders need to show, with actions, that what is ethical and best for the company and consumer is their priority.
6. A leader is vulnerable with the right people.
Leaders show vulnerability to their management team. They do not do so to just gather compassion and sympathy from others, but rather, to brainstorm how to fix any issues at hand. This encourages honesty and unity within the management team, thereby creating honesty and unity within the various teams of the organization.
7. A leader knows when to say, “I’m sorry.”
Leaders are not too proud that they cannot admit when they are wrong or have failed. Leaders should never be above an apology. On the same token, leaders know how to apologize and then bring a possible solution to the table for all involved to consider. This shows humility, as well as a working knowledge of leading and fixing problems.
8. A leader understands vision and chases after it.
Leaders eat, sleep, and breath company vision. They know the ins and outs of the vision, not only its past and present, but also its future. A leader knows when to chase a vision and when to change the vision to meet the organization’s mission, values, and financial goals.
9. A leader is empathetic.
Lastly, leaders know how to be active-listeners, being well-read on topics of psychology, counseling, and organizational behavior. Leaders listen with the intent to understand not to reply. They consider others as equals, each with valuable insights and understanding. Leaders who are empathetic quickly gain the trust and confidence of their team(s) and encourage others to do the same.
Embodying these character traits makes for a powerful, influential, compassionate, and fair leader.
When looking for a new CEO of a company, it is important to not only take into consideration their vast experience, product/service knowledge, and pay grade. It is important to ask them specific questions in interviews, relating to how they manage people beneath them. You want to make sure your new CEO creates an atmosphere of care, understanding, and value in each and every employee. To be a just and fair CEO, it is important that he/she exhibits, through understanding and experience, the following three traits.
1) He/She has been in the lowest position in a company before.
When CEO’s have been in the lowest position in a company before, it shows that he/she knows what it is like to be the, “new guy.” It shows he/she knows what it is like to feel intimidated to share his/her opinions to his/her boss or colleagues. When CEO’s have this experience, they have a working knowledge of how to do other positions within a company and the challenges that come with it. As a CEO, it is important to understand how to do other people’s jobs in the company, because it will help him/her to be fair to employees when issues arise.
2) He/She can articulately explain his/her management style.
If a CEO does not know how to explain his/her management style and give specific examples of how he/she has implemented this style in the past, it shows they are inexperienced and very well could be lacking the foundation needed to be your new CEO.
Their management style should be able to cover public speaking, organizational skills, thought leadership, an in-depth understanding of the company’s products/services, kindly encouraging and correcting workers in their positions, how to recognize a leader in the making, the ability to innovate, how to take educated and worthwhile risks, how to create and execute decisions, how to delegate fairly, how to control his/her emotions, how to celebrate and reward success, how to create incentives for employees, and the like.
3) He/She can explain numerous experiences handling problems with a team he/she has lead in a just manner.
One of the worst feelings in the world is when your boss corrects or reprimands you in front of other employees. It is degrading, embarrassing, and discouraging. Employees feel enraged when this happens but also helpless. They cannot express their anger for fear of getting further reprimanded. So, they keep it to themselves or start to complain to their equals in the company. This creates a sense of distrust, disloyalty, anger, and tension in the atmosphere.
It is important, as a leader of any kind, to take employees aside and encourage them towards making the right decisions in their positions. If a potential CEO expresses that they do not privately reprimand or correct their subordinates, this is a major issue. This potential CEO should be able to give examples of how he/she corrected problems in their company, while simultaneously letting employees know they are heard, understood, and taken very seriously. When employees know this, they feel they can come to the CEO with any qualm they may have without being judged, dismissed, or yelled at. This creates open communication, a quicker turnaround time for fixing problems, and a happier work environment. “A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.” That is a 22% gap in productivity, which can result is a major decline is meeting deadlines with an employee’s best work.
In the end, knowing how to pick a CEO based on their credentials, experience, and knowledge is vital for any company to succeed. Making sure he/she is fair, understanding, and empathetic, however, leads to happy workers who are exceedingly more productive than unhappy ones.
Deming Principle #12: Abolish the Annual Performance Review
Deming.org states that number twelve is, “12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.”
Deming was exceedingly against the annual performance review, and so am I. Workers should be evaluated on their work in the midst of day-to-day operations. Most often, the annual performance review is degrading and negative for workers. It causes them anxiety waiting to have their review, and it is discouraging to hear so many negative statements about your work all at once. The annual performance review should be abolished, and workers should be informed as time goes on how they are doing and what they can do to improve. Management should not wait until one day out of the year to have these important conversations. Why not assist a worker to work towards improvements, encouraging him/her along the way? Help them to see what is hampering their ability to reach the company’s objectives and kindly guide them toward efficiency and accuracy in completing tasks.
Deming Principle #13: Educate & Give Employees Opportunities for Growth in the Areas They Want to Grow
Deming.org states that principle number thirteen is, “13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.”
Some employees have great promise and capability. By constantly educating them and finding ways for the employee to gain skills, that employee has a high likelihood of succeeding. Ask that employee, “What do you want to do? What are your goals while you are here?” Show them you have interest in them, not just their work skills. Essentially, you are trying to maximize that person’s potential. Even if you lose them as an employee one day, you will gain the trust and respect of your employees that much faster and that much more when you encourage them to be who they are. Workers who feel respected and cared for by their superiors will be that much more loyal to the company, and your likelihood of turnover will decrease.
Deming Principle #14: Everybody Has a Piece to the Puzzle
Finally, Deming.org states principle number fourteen is, “14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.”
People in leadership positions can never say, “Here is our plan,” and then disengage. This will not optimize the plan to work the best it can for the company. Leaders needs to treat creating the plan as one piece to the puzzle. Then, when leaders talk about the plan with employees, they will be engaged, too. This will teach the workers to take more responsibility for their pieces of the puzzle. Each person in the company has a piece of the puzzle, and each person needs to take responsibility for finding where it fits into the greater picture.
The Deming Principles not only help me to do management consulting, but they also helps me to mentor others and lead a life of responsibility and ownership. It helps me to counsel others how to lead a better, more fulfilling life. I encourage you to take these principles to heart and learn all that they have to offer. You can always use their advice, whether in business, relationships, or personal endeavors.