Consistency is Key

I’m going to contradict myself today and talk a little bit about the importance of consistency. I know that I’ve had quite a few posts on here talking about the importance of agility and recruiting for people that can be agile. While I think the ability to respond quickly to a change in environment is incredibly important, I think as an executive or a manger it’s important not to not to overuse that. I know that the temptation is to reshuffle, to reorganize, to reconfigure, and to be ready to take on the next challenge. For organizations large and small, the challenge changes every day so there’s an enormous temptation to take in the new data points that you have and begin to tinker around to find that optimal mix that s going to enable you to achieve your goal. There’s a temptation there to over transform and I think sometimes that’s exacerbated by having really great people that are capable of that type of change.

I know that for myself as a consulting firm you’re constantly faced with new and unique client side challenges and you’re tempted to throw your best people at it all the time. The upside to that is that oftentimes you’re able to win that business, succeed for that client, and really achieve. The downside is that sometimes you’re yanking people out of an existing assignment, a natural fit, or something that they’ve just begun to gain expertise in to do it. While they may be very capable of achieving and as I just said they may help you reach a successful conclusion on many occasions, you need to be a little bit careful of how many times you stretch the rubber band. I just think that people get fatigued from all the overhead associated with this constant maneuvering. Not only are they doing all the things that normally do at a high level but if you’re constantly being forced to go at 120% to adjust to your change in circumstance, you get worn out.

When you’ve found somebody who can maneuver quickly between projects successfully, you need to be careful about how often you ask them to do those types of things. There’s a fine line between the excitement of learning something new and being reinvigorated by a new challenge, and becoming overwhelmed by an environment that never stops evolving, never stops changing, and never allows you to become very competent in any one thing. Its something that really needs to be guarded against and I believe is a management issue. It’s something that you, as a manager and executive, need to be conscious of on a daily basis and make sure that the amount of change that you’re asking people to undertake is something that they can handle and sometimes it can be really difficult. I know that for us, we’ve had periods where we’ve had to ask people to move across projects to bring specific insight and input into them, rely on things that they’re really good, and also force them to really dig deep to learn either a new skill or to get up to speed on that particular client in a hurry. So you just have to be careful about asking people to go the extra mile all the time.

I think a lot of people, particularly in the business we’re in, agility is part of the reason they got into consulting services. A lot of the folks that we have got into it this because they enjoy new challenges, working with new people, and change is just really part of the allure. So in our case, I think we can be a little bit more progressive with how any challenges we throw at somebody. Although I still think, even in that circumstance where somebody has signed up to work with a lot of different organizations and evolve their skills rapidly by virtue of the job they’ve taken, you still need to manage how much you throw at somebody. It can be overwhelming even for really smart people who want that sort of challenge on a regular basis. I’m curious what other people think as always. I’d love to hear if you have a story about being overwhelmed, being asked to be all things to all people, or being stretched too thin, and how you felt about that.

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