Most management consultants typically work for consultancy firms or professional services firms (such as the Big 4). They are contracted by organisations seeking help and advice about business and management problems and strategies. Consultants could work for organisations that specialise in a certain type of consultancy (such as pure strategy) or industry (such as IT) and they often work for extended periods of time at the clients' own offices, possibly overseas.
Management consultants work on behalf of clients:
- making sure that deadlines are met
- meeting financial targets
- planning and scheduling projects
- overseeing projects
- conducting research and interviews
- compiling and presenting information
- analysing statistics
- writing reports
- making recommendations
- developing new procedures or training
Management in a business context
Most managers of businesses work within an organisation and decide how to use resources and employees to best meet that organisation’s aims. The level of responsibility depends on your seniority and experience, but every business, big, small and medium-sized needs managers.
Most management roles will involve directing and organising staff members to get the day job or projects done.
Business managers work for their organisation:
- recruiting new members of staff
- training both new and existing members of staff
- managing people’s performance
- solving problems
- managing the team’s time and setting priorities
- ensuring that company standards and objectives are met
- overseeing projects
- ensuring that projects are completed on time and to budget
- making and signing off decisions that affect the company
- being aware of the actions of competitor organisations
- communicating with a variety of people – this could include customers, colleagues at all levels and shareholders
- adapting to changes of circumstances quickly and giving direction on the next steps
Which are you: a consultant or a manager?
You will have gathered that, with the crossover of tasks, managers and consultants require many of the same skills: not least influencing skills, emotional intelligence, communication and commercial awareness. They are just used in slightly different contexts. It ultimately comes down to if you want to be responsible for advising on strategy and policy or if you want to be responsible for getting to grips with operational matters and making things happen. Managers may well be sent to different offices or work sites if they move roles – but management consultants will be travelling and working on client sites regularly. Managers may be working with a fairly static team, but consultants may change project teams regularly. Which type of working environment would suit you?