Career Consulting

Nobody Eats Unless Everybody Eats

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read the phrase “everybody eats”?

Does it conjure up images of Thanksgiving day here in the United States?

Or maybe more of a Nathan’s hot dog eating contest (shout out to Joey Chestnut)?

Well this post isn’t about overindulgence but instead it’s about how to work most effectively with a team, especially one under constant pressure to produce results.

You might be thinking I write a lot about how to work with teams supporting you, which is true. And I’m going to keep doing it because it is one of the most important aspects in being successful in management consulting. I would even argue the concept of individual contributor doesn’t really exist in management consulting.

But back to the matter at hand of breaking down everybody eats. Its meaning is pretty straightforward – we share in feast and famine. We help protect or neediest until they can learn to support themselves so that our herd thrives long-term.

Imagine you’re sitting at director level thinking about how to make the jump to partner, and then there is a newly hired director, in your same practice AND market. You could a) say f(orget) that guy/girl because they should figure things out themself or b) you can help them because it’s good for the practice and the firm.

In case there is any doubt, b) is the right answer. That being said, you still want to approach this situation carefully, because there’s no job out there where you simply get rewarded for doing the right thing. Results and metrics still hold highest importance.

Taking self-interest into consideration there are certain facts which need to remain in tact. Your productivity cannot take a significant hit because of your altruistic endeavors.

You have to make sure the bosses know what you’re doing. It gets you credit for doing it. It gives you credit for offering to do it, but they may want you to focus elsewhere. And remember, packaging is everything.

Saying f(orget) this guy/girl is much different than saying “I want to help but I’m stretched on these other six things right now. Is there something I can make a lower priority?” You see the difference? It may end up with the same net result but your perception will suffer if you come off as confrontational or selfish.

I want to go a little deeper on this though, because this isn’t only about helping new hire peers. It also applies to how you manage your teams. I would argue managing people for the first time a common place where most end up struggling.

As a manager of people, it’s in the best interest of them, you, and the firm to teach them how to fish, to help them look like rockstars in front of the client. Even if that means, additional preparation meetings to script out every word that needs to be said.

You want to make sure you’re explaining as you go so they can understand the rationale so they can do it on their own, but until that point, you have to do what you have to do to make them look good.

Once you become the face to the client and the client becomes attached to you exclusively – instead of you and your team – it becomes more difficult to bring in additional faces. That means you eat while your team starves, and how much good is a leader with no team?

Making sure everybody eats is good for you, good for your team’s development, and good for your firm’s bottom line. Nobody eats unless everybody eats. So get out there and make it happen.