Once You Get Staffed: 5 Things To Do Next

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Author : John Shaughnessy
Published: July 11, 2013

It’s a big relief to get that first staffing call.

Let’s be clear: your initial staffing is the biggest crapshoot of your consulting career. You have almost no input into the client, project and city you’re assigned to—or how quickly it happens. But, that said, it still feels good to receive that first staffing call.

So, you’re staffed. What do you do now?

Often, staffing decisions are made on Friday afternoon. That doesn’t give you much time before you fly to your new client on Monday morning. So, once you get off the phone with the staffer, do these five things to make sure you’re ready to rumble.

Before you leave the office Friday:

1) Call your engagement manager

Your new engagement manager is the most important person in your consulting world. First, he or she has all the information you need to know. Second, engagement managers help form your reputation going forward. Start on the right foot:

• Align travel plans: If your teammates are in your office, take the flight that they’re on. Otherwise, ensure that you’re not the last to land on Monday

• Get the proposal: It’s important to know what you’re getting into before you arrive at the client site…so make sure you get the project background

• Learn the M.O.: Managers have likes and pet peeves. Ask how they prefer their teams to operate and how you can work within those preferences

2) Do a little bit of Friday reading

I’m not asking you to work the weekend before your project even starts. Far from it. But I’d suggest that you tap into a couple convenient, free sources to ensure you’re up to snuff. A little research Friday will make you more confident Monday:

• Review the proposal: The proposal should provide a high-level outline of the client problem and the strategic approach your team will take to resolve it

• Access your knowledge base: Most firms save previous client deliverables, which allow you to see how you’ve worked with a client (or problem) before

• Skim company reports: Whether it’s the most recent annual report or quarterly one, these will shed light on problem areas or the CEO’s main agenda

When you arrive at the client Monday

3) Find your niche on the team

Set one-on-one time with your manager—on Monday, if possible—to clarify your role, responsibilities and expectations. You’ll likely own one distinct part of the project, so you’ll want to perform to the best of your ability. Ensure you both know what success will look like.

4) It’s cliché, but be indispensable

Become a “go-to” guy or gal at something. Of course, you’ll want to be regarded as an expert on your distinct part of the project. But that’s not where it ends. Whether it’s Excel modeling, creating slides or a number of other critical tasks, be good--or better, be great--at something.

5) Make your manager a rock star

Make managers’ lives easier and help them look good. Be organized, be proactive and be trustworthy. Your efforts to keep the project on track—and to make the client happy—won’t just be rewarded on this project. In consulting, this rapport tends to follow you for years.

You’ll have little to say about your initial staffing. But once on the ground, you’re in full control of your performance. Create a reputation that opens doors for the future.

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