As a consulting firm leader, you pour your time, energy, intention and heart into building your practice. Ensure your firm rewards your investment with happiness for you and your team.
Apparently, life can’t be all banana splits with hot fudge sauce. (Despite my life mission to disprove this thesis.)
Similarly, consulting isn’t always a barrel of laughs for consulting firm leaders or for your subordinates, associates and colleagues.
However, studies show that
fudgier happier companies outperform their competitors. So how do you maximize the happiness of your consulting firm?
My team and I developed a score of suggestions after reviewing research, assessing our current and past clients, and downing six pints of Rocky Road ice cream.
Many of those suggestions are outlined below, along with an empty space waiting for your addition.
10 Rules for Building a Happy Consulting Firm
Track and Manage Workload
Consulting firms experience surges of work; times when client deliverables converge on a certain date or multiple projects land almost simultaneously.
Increase happiness by improving your planning and forecasting, by rescheduling work if it’s going to create unnecessarily challenging calendars.
Turn down work rather than burning out your team.
Pack your ranks with positive, upbeat, can-do personalities. You’ll benefit from diverse thinking styles, of course.
Skeptics and doubters play an important role in a consulting firm. However, avoid (or let go) the Debbie downers, negative Nellies and complainers.
Deal Directly with Down Times
Rather than hiding from dark tidings, burnt caramel or teammates having an off day, acknowledge the low points and demonstrate your dedication to creating a positive environment.
For instance, if a client provides negative feedback, state the situation plainly to your team and confirm your commitment to creating client delight in the future.
Similarly, if an associate appears to be down in the dumps, offer, “You seem a bit sad today, is there anything I can do to help?”
Inspire with Ideas
Provide yourself and your team plentiful opportunities to explore ideas, test hypotheses and create an impact on others’ lives.
That will generate more happiness than offering layers of bonuses or other extrinsic rewards,
Set clear, detailed expectations for everyone in your consulting firm, and explicitly describe outstanding performance. Then let your team achieve success with your support and without micromanaging!
If you focus on failures and missteps, you’ll find and, ironically, provoke more errors.
Conversely, directing your attention, time and resources toward positive achievements stimulates optimism and productivity.
Connect to a Bigger Purpose
Your spirits are buoyed when you know you’re lifting the fortunes of others. The same principle holds true for the rest of your team.
Fortunately, your consulting firm exists to create value in the world. Highlight the good you and your coworkers do, and your firm’s positive impact on other people’s lives.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Descend from your pedestal and laugh at yourself a bit more. Share your personal flair with your co-workers via stories, tasteful humor, colorful clothing or the occasional pointless diversion.
It’s okay to loosen up with your consulting firm’s clients too. They’ll like and trust you more when you’re more human, engaging, and fun.
Praise and Recognize Liberally
Foster a Thank You habit at your consulting firm.
The acknowledgee and the acknowledger both enjoy an endorphin boost when a Thank You is exchanged. Imagine that multiple times per day at your firm!
Smooth the Ups and Downs
Create a calmer, steadier, happier environment at your consulting firm by keeping everyone’s eyes on the big picture rather than every little dip in revenue unexpected obstacle, or scoop of ice cream that plops onto the floor.
Decouple temporary dips in performance from overall delight.
You lead a consulting firm. Life is good. Keep the smiles, praise, acknowledgment, happy tunes and chocolatey morsels flowing in the face of rainy days and occasional missteps.
Finish the list. What are your other suggestions for running a happy consulting firm?
Add your smart thinking, ideas, and experience to the list above. What else creates a happy environment, no matter what size consulting firm you lead?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.