By investing in our people, the workplace can become a place of learning, fun and open discussions for the best solutions for the client.
Consulting is a tricky business. We don’t make products for sale. We provide ideas that solve problems and help our clients’ business. The ideas come from consultants in a project team who have a common goal. If they are not engaged then this reflects on the quality of the services we provide. Therefore, investing in our people is the key to achieving success in the consulting industry. People are our driving fuel.
By investing in our people we will also empower them to change the way we do business. This is important as markets change at a faster rate than ever before, and we need to keep up.
During my time with Beca I have seen some very good methods of investing in people.
I was selected to undergo management training along with other people appointed in similar roles. This was a great idea as:
- it helped me network with others from different offices and teams within Beca and who were all trying to achieve a common goal
- I discovered that the challenges ahead of us were not unique to my team. Between this group we had a few options we could implement and see which solution produced the best result for our teams
- Lastly, I formed a very strong bond with this group and even now since my relocation to Thailand as Integration Manager for Beca Warnes, these relationships have helped me find good robust solutions.
We organised follow-up sessions to discuss our learnings - this was like learning a new concept and getting more value by a few people implementing it and sharing the results.
By using a social enterprise network such as Yammer we are able to share ideas and solutions with everyone in the business and not just the people who attended the training.
Play to their strengths
Not all consulting engineers are the same. We have our strengths and weaknesses.
When I joined Beca nearly ten years ago, my manager had a long conversation with me regarding what I was good at and what I thought I needed help with. Following this I was provided with opportunities to work on projects that were my strength areas (I loved working on them) and I also worked with him on projects where he provided guidance and helped me improve.
This made me feel valued and I gave 100% to the company. My Dad always told me, “Work as though you own the firm”.
One on One training
On-boarding a graduate engineer with a senior engineer has many benefits as both can learn from each other. It will also give the senior engineer valuable insight into how the new generation think and work. This time investment pays in spades over time as the same graduate engineer will reinvest in the next generation of engineers and add to their learnings from his or her experience.
This tool is very effective. We react to this well when a client gives us feedback. I suggest an environment of openness be established so that every team member feels they can provide valuable feedback.
Our team had recently joined a new business line and at the first executive meeting we were asked to score the meeting (10 out of 10 if it finished on time and achieved its objectives) and give reasons for our scores. The next meeting addressed our feedback. This helped me understand that our feedback was valued.
A General Manager once told me “my virtual doors are always open”. That shows that the support will always be there.
In my new role as the Integration Manager of a recent merger between Beca and Warnes, I am working with a new team. We have had feedback from the team and we are actively working on implementing these suggestions.
As an example, we wanted to organise a presentation on safe construction practices. One of the senior site engineers suggested that all presentations should be bilingual with photos showing the good and the bad. We reorganised the presentation and this resulted in a very engaged audience with lots of discussions during and after the presentation. We now have more examples of how to visualise situations that could possibly harm site personnel and how to deal with this effectively.
Two way mentoring sessions
A mentor is a person who has preferably worked with the mentee and is not the line manager so as to have a neutral perspective. The key to being a good mentor is to listen to the individual and understand where they see themselves in the future. This in combination of some of the ideas discussed above will provide a clear career path for the mentee and keep the engagement levels high.
I started working with three seniors who were the leaders in client relationships in their respective segments in order to grow my business development skills. They all listened to what I wanted to achieve in our sessions and provided targeted guidance. This helped me develop key parts of my consulting service in each of the three segments. Now I am a mentor and I try to listen to each mentee to understand in detail as to what they would like help with and focus on that part specifically.
By investing in our people, the workplace can become a place of learning, fun and open discussions for the best solutions for the client. I have learnt many valuable lessons in my ten years at Beca and I wish I started my career here after graduation.
Still, better late than never.