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Management consultants are just people, and people make mistakes.

However, I will not mention common working principle mistakes that everyone in every place makes. There are some particular false moves that would counteract any attempts to forward in your career path as a consultant in the Big 3:

For junior consultants:

  1. Thinking that you are better than the client. No, you maybe better in structural thinking or in analytical skills, but the clients are better in some aspects too.
  2. Not leveraging enough. Yes, the conventional way to increase output is to increase your own input. But that resource is limited and at some point painful to use. Great consultants are those who can take advantage of other various resources (as a consultant, you have access to a lot of those): clients, your firm’s support teams, etc.
  3. Underestimate the importance of client relationship
  4. Spending time on adding useless tasks. E.g: some people are just so picky about making a powerpoint as nice as possible.
  5. Not talking to experts enough. A lot of consultants prefer to “do research on my own first” and “only call an expert when I know something first”. Well… that’s one way to do it, but it’s a super long one!
  6. Not taking your health serious enough. The truth is, your bosses don’t care that much about your physical and emotional state. So they will pressure you on doing things that are not in your best interest. You must be the one to protect your own life, and health is a big part of it!

For EMs and above (project manager):

  1. Trash your team members. You know what, if your guys screw up, you do too. The best way to bring a guy back to productivity is NOT to yell at him every time he makes s mistake…
  2. Not considering outside opportunities enough. Consulting is a great industry to start off your career. But as you have a few years in it, the outside opportunities may well exceed what consulting can bring you.

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  • Jason Chaw

    Interesting point of view from the inner circle! Btw I agree that being a consultant is a fancy career but there’re still various next-best choices.