It’s no secret that a career in management consulting is hectic to say the very least. From flying city to city, running from meeting to meeting, it’s not too hard to fall into burnout mode in what is a fast-paced environment.
For those fresh-faced junior consultants, it is an introduction to life in the fast lane. We spoke to Tommaso Alderigi, an Engagement Manager at Oliver Wyman, who provided his insights into how he helps his team and himself maintain a balanced work-life.
Managers need to be flexible in their approach and adapt to the needs of their consultants.
“First of all you need to allow for flexibility. Even if you work hard and you can’t schedule your time over the next month, if one of your consultants or yourself needs some time away from the office to do whatever, then you need to be flexible there,” says Alderigi.
“You can work from home on Friday if you have a specific reason. You need to be flexible with where the resources are located, provided at the end the final product is delivered.”
As long as the work is done, it seems that is vital for managers to allow their consultants to sway from routine on occasion, granting them some required breathing space.
Maintaining a separation between the working week and the weekend is something that is also important in ensuring that the mind of each consultant is “refreshed” once they enter the working week.
“Weekends are sacred for me. I work extensively during the week, especially if we’re travelling and not in our home city. But then on Friday, I would say at 6 or 7pm, everyone has to be out. And then we don’t open the laptop till Monday 8am, unless there are extreme circumstances.”
“If I see that they are spending too much time, or spend weekends on work, I will always ask them not to do that because it would be counter-productive.”
Embrace the work
While long hours are a staple of the consultancy diet, Alderigi stresses that time spent working together can also be time that is enjoyed and welcomed with open arms.
“We always try and make the tasks together fun. In my experience, if you have an intense working environment, it becomes far more difficult to bare the long hours.”
“If there is a friendly environment in the team and you manage to have some team dinners with some wine or something and talk about personal stuff once in a while, it can make the environment much more relaxed and the long hours much better.”
It seems that collaborating and spending time together as consultants can instil a sense of camaraderie that makes work more enjoyable, and achievements feel more significant.
Lead by example
For Alderigi, It is also vital to combine motivation with strong leadership, ensuring that all consultants recognise the importance of their work and are left with the feeling that they are equal to their manager in the output of their efforts.
“I tend to motivate my team to mix the importance of what we’re doing for the client and this improves their patience and commitment of the task and they can spend their longer hours better.”
“First of all I am always with them. I would not leave the office if we’re not all done with the work. The captain does not leave the crew.”