Tell Your Boss What You Want to Do - Tips for New Consultants

TopDGO's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 328

As recent college graduates prepare to begin wearing business casual for the rest of their lives, I thought it would be fitting to share some advice from my four years of experience in consulting. There is nothing particularly earth-shattering about my experiences, which means it probably applies to about 99% of people. I encourage anyone else to chime in with advice or agree/disagree with what I have shared.

1. Find the Line, Then Step On It
No, I'm not talking about interns. I'm talking about the line between doing your work (well, hopefully) and telling your manager no. My mentality coming into my first job was that I would work hard, do whatever was asked of me, and I would succeed because of the good work I had done. I learned the way consulting works is that when work gets done, people make money. Or, the partner makes money, and pass on down what he thinks is reasonable. Once you know what is really expected of people at your level, it's time to tell that unorganized manager who is flailing to keep their job that you're not staying past midnight anymore this week to work on stuff they could have given you to work on weeks ago when you were asking them what needed to be done. Be respectful, but have self-respect.

2. That Guy Who Does Nothing But Still Keeps His Job? Don't Be Friends with Him
If you've started already, I assume you've met this guy. Every office has him. In a world of touchy feel-good performance reviews and really great employment attorneys, these wastes of space are allowed to stick around for a long, long time. They usually happen to be nice, fun people too. But they are the last person in the office you want to befriend. They won't give you good advice because if they had any good advice, they'd heed it themselves. Also, they're not going anywhere in the firm, so building a working relationship with them won't benefit you in the future.

3. Tell Your Boss What You Want to Do
After 4 years I still have not perfected this, but it's so important. Consulting MDs/Partners are usually talented, well-adjusted, and extremely busy people. They want to know what's going on under them and how they can develop their people. If they can help one of their peons excel at something, it is literally money in their pocket. No, don't set up an appointment with your boss to complain about your crappy manager. But do use the opportunities you have to express what you want to do and how you see your progression at the firm. Your boss might not always be able to make your dreams happen, but they like to hear that you're motivated and want to do well.

Comments (10)

Jun 15, 2012

Thanks for sharing man. Not applicable to me yet but it will soon hopefully.

Jul 12, 2012

I don't know why you didn't get more credit for this. Thanks.

Mar 18, 2013

Generally good advice, though I'm going to have question the idea that you should tell your "unorganized manager" that you aren't working past midnight anymore.

Mar 18, 2013
NorthSider:

Generally good advice, though I'm going to have question the idea that you should tell your "unorganized manager" that you aren't working past midnight anymore.

Same here. I agree with everything OP said, except this point. He is right that you should be prepared to push back, but there is definitely an art to it. Push back because it is not an efficient use of resources. Push back because other things need to be prioritized. Just don't ever give the appearance that you are pushing back because you simply don't want to do the task, even if you are in the right to do so. Have that conversation when you are debriefing after the deadline has been met.

Mar 18, 2013
Anthropaid:
NorthSider:

Generally good advice, though I'm going to have question the idea that you should tell your "unorganized manager" that you aren't working past midnight anymore.

Same here. I agree with everything OP said, except this point. He is right that you should be prepared to push back, but there is definitely an art to it. Push back because it is not an efficient use of resources. Push back because other things need to be prioritized. Just don't ever give the appearance that you are pushing back because you simply don't want to do the task, even if you are in the right to do so. Have that conversation when you are debriefing after the deadline has been met.

Definitely agree. If you are questioning how necessary a task is, bring this up in the initial meeting; however, outright denying an ask isn't a way to make friends.

Mar 18, 2013

SB For #2. This holds true everywhere. That same person will ask you to stop by for 5 minutes to ask you a question about something you're working on and you'll end up losing 30 minutes- 1 hour of your time. Incompetent people (especially in more senior positions) are the absolute worst to deal with

Mar 19, 2013

Good post! I will just chime in on the third point which OP made from my own experience. We all have to do this particularly if you want to grow your career in a particular path. i.e. if you want to be more involved in the manufacturing industry, ask to be staffed on certain projects or you foresee yourself doing sales in the future and therefore ask for more customer facing task.
I had a manager who showed a lot of concern for me and often asked me what type of projects I wanted to do/initiatives I wanted to spearhead. Unfortunately I was at a very junior stage of my career and did not know how to articulate and neither knew where I wanted to move to.
I also had a manager who was extremely capable however he is so busy that there is very little face time with him. I needed to ensure I articulated what type of projects I wanted to do and skill set I wanted to grow else I would be doing the same thing (things which I have proven that I can add value in). That will be dangerous because this will limit your learning.
The last benefit so that they "hear that you are motivated and want to do well" is new to me and makes lots of sense!

Mar 21, 2013

So much politics

Mar 22, 2013

Saying no to your superiors! Argh! How I wish.

Mar 23, 2013
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