10 tips to motivate and engage your consultants

Attrition in consulting is very high: rates in the industry are usually between 15% and 20% annually. While the war for talents is raging, motivating and engaging employees is still the best strategy to retain employees. This issue should be tackled at the highest level of management, and well thought strategies should be in place to ensure a low attrition and a high employee engagement

Besides employee engagement is a significant driver for cost efficiency (lower training and hiring costs), productivity improvement and client satisfaction thanks to better qualified teams.

Here are 10 tips to better motivate and engage your consultants:

1. Give the management the right tools to motivate and engage their teams
Engaging teams is a critical leadership team, but is definitely one that can be acquired. Top management at the consulting firm should be focused on aiming at increasing consultants’ engagement. Achieving this goal requires the firm to build and promote a culture that trains and incentives managers to motivate their teams.  Managers should be taught coaching skills and how to make teams more autonomous and engaged. It can only happen at a firm that has clearly written down its own definition of management: what are the duties of a manager towrds its team. Only after can a culture that drives motivation and engagement can be promoted.

2. Always more customer centric
Sucessful organizations place their customers at the center of their strategy. It is even more important for a consulting firms which services are entirely designed to respond to clients’ requirements. Consultant’s motivation should be channeled towards customer satisfaction. When employees are encouraged to take decisions that help clients, they contribute to the company strategy and goals. For instance, when a client complains, it is important to give consultants the tools and means to bring a response and solve the situation. Not only will the consultant feel extremely useful but he will also demonstrate creativity and new ideas to please the customer.

3. Continuous training

A culture that brings engagement is fueled when consultants have access to continuous trainings. Consultants should be trained on a regular basis to better answer the needs of their clients.

Consultants can for instance receive a negotiation training or a conflict-solving training. The more tools you give your consultants, the more confident and creative they will be to better satisfy your clients.

4. Access to the right data

Data are becoming even more critical for a consulting firm to succeed, and the more are consultants exposed and explained data and how they impact the firm, the more willing they will be to analyze and make the right decisions to improve the performance of the company.

To motivate your employees you need to trust them and show data such as project budgets and margins or revenue forecast, but also feedbacks from clients or billable utilization rates.

By trusting them, and explaining how the metrics are impacting the company you will motivate them to be pro-active and find solutions to improve theses metrics. For instance, if they have visibility over their own billable utilization rates, they may come forward and ask to be engaged on a project to increase their own rate.

5. Build a mentorship program for consultants

Mentors always have a favorable impact on employee engagement. Each consultant should have a dedicated mentor within the top management and feel comfortable asking questions and help to improve their choices and careers.

The mentor should be someone who has been successful at what the consultant is currently learning 

For instance, if a consultant is learning how to respond the needs of an unhappy client, the mentor should have experienced situations with unsatisfied clients in which he was successful at changing the situation.

6. Build an environment that allow mistakes

We all make mistakes as we start new roles, and it is critical to build a safe space for consultants to make mistakes without being punished, but instead receive a relevant coaching to avoid making the mistake a second time. Only organizations that promote very regular feedbacks are successful at creating such work envrionments. Such regular feedbacks are very positive for the consultant who doesn’t feel as judged as what he can experience during annual feedbacks. It also enables the consultant to learn much faster and reduce the learning curve. Regular feedbacks, throughout the course of a project – not only at the end) puts the manager in a position of coach rather than a supervisor.


7. Align financial incentives with customer success

It is very critical that consultants are made aware that their compensation depends on their work.

Therefore it is important to align performance goals with customer requests and to track performance metrics aligned with customer success. The consultant will be more engaged towards the customer and it will benefit the firm.

8. Take personalities into account

Not every consultant is excellent at interacting with others, And this is fine, they may demonstrate better efficiency behind the scenes. Be aware of personalities traits of every consultants: you can for instance use DISC or Myers-Briggs tests to have a better understanding of their personalities. And take it into account to offer the most relevant roles to each of their traits while keeping open the opportunity to move out of their comfort zone.

9. Write down and communicate about criteria considered to move up the ladder :

One of the biggest concern for consultants is to feel blocked in their role and not understanding why they are not offered a promotion. It is important to clearly define and communicate why and when a consultant is offered a promotion. It can come from goal achievement or skills, but it needs to be crystal clear. The better understanding of promotion criteria consultants have, the more willing they will be to acquire new skills or achieve their objectives.

10. A deliberate teamwork culture

Keeping consultants motivated requires building the right atmosphere at the office and within teams. It is the job of the firm to take the appropriate actions to improve atmosphere .

Horizontal organizations are more successful and better manage to create the right atmospheres at work. Change the organization to build a more horizontal hierarchy is a first step for better teamwork and increased productivity. Team building events are also of course useful to strengthen relationships among teams.