One of the common problems in management consulting agencies is the work-life imbalance of its employees. The nature of their job compels them to work for longer hours, a clear indication that there is less time to prioritize the simple pleasures in life. If you’d like to pursue a career in this field, find out how you’ll manage this issue.
The coin has always two sides. In the field of management consulting, employees enjoy a number of attractive benefits but they must also accomplish milestones for their clients by all means, even if it implies staying at the office for more than eight hours a day – and it does so almost every day. To elaborate this idea, below are the happy and sad sides of the consulting industry.
Compensation and Benefit Package vs Time
One of the motivating reasons why thousands of applicants would go for a management consulting position is the money that puts lavish food on the dining table and pays the costly bills. The annual base salary estimate for the fresh graduates ranges from $45,000 – $60,000, depending on the country and the size of the firm. This excludes the signing and year-end bonuses, the health care insurance, the reimbursed travel expenses and other promising incentives. Expectedly, the starting rate is higher for those who have earned a master’s or graduate degree and those who have relevant experience. The salary gets even more attractive on progression to senior levels.
However, this perk comes with a price so expensive that the monthly salary cannot even afford – demand for time in the office. Most management consultants have to work for 60-80 hours in a week because of the project requirements. At times, the regular working hours are only consumed by client and team meetings; hence the need for more hours to seriously study and analyze information. More often than not, consultants end up with bulky wallets and wealthy bank accounts without sufficient time to do their hobbies, go shopping and enjoy what they earn.
People Exposure vs Family Bonding
Another perk consultants get from working at management consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain, Booz and BCG is the opportunity to meet a variety of people – from dynamic colleagues bringing in different cultures and work orientation to business-minded clients coming from different areas. This exposure doesn’t only hone their social interaction skills to the fullest, it also widens their professional network. The chatty enjoys every conversation, the observant has so much things to ponder and the impatient learns to wait.
On the other hand, because of the demanding schedule with other people, consultants have less time for their loved ones. They often end up missing their friend’s birthday bash or their weekend getaways with their kids or cousins. They feel so caught up with their work they’re unable to spend time with their family. Oftentimes, they need to travel for a few days in a week, making their absence at home more inconvenient and distressing to others.
Challenging vs Stressful Opportunities
Many applicants love the intellectual challenges of a management consulting position. The thinking aspect may drain most people but for those who are interested in a consulting career, going through numerical data, analyzing graphs and charts, generating options for problems and recommending strategies to top management are exciting sources of energy. Management consulting firms give their employees opportunities to learn and master new skills in every project. Consultants have to learn quickly and to be motivated enough to keep up with others.
Unfortunately, because of the prolonged hours of brain-utilizing, the responsibilities cause headaches to consultants. Stress becomes a constant companion with the deadlines they need to meet, difficult people they have to discuss with and long hours they have to endure. Only a few people are graceful under too much stress. This explains why the turnover rate in management consulting companies is quite high.
Venturing into Management Consulting?
If you’re embarking in this field, you should seriously consider the yin-yang situations cited above. The job has its own wonderful opportunities paired with alarming threats. However, if you’d really like to give it a try, then go for it. Many consultants who resigned from consulting firms would never trade their experience for anything else in the world. Sure their resumes look even more credible but on top of that, the learning process they underwent was priceless.
Here are some suggestions on how to maintain balance in management consulting.
Accept the Situation
Accept that work-life balance is hard to attain when you’re a consultant. This doesn’t really solve the problem but nevertheless, being aware lessens your unrealistic expectations. Distress occurs when the ship doesn’t sail as smoothly as you expected it to. Knowing the truth at least conditions you to prepare for work-loaded days.
Do not be a family person and a consultant at the same time. For instance, during weekends, do not go on a family picnic with a laptop so you can check emails and continue making reports. Learn to draw a line between work and play. For a consultant with a hectic schedule, this may be too hard but still possible. It all boils down to your time management and organizational skills.
Make Use of Technology
With the advent of technology, communication has never been easier. While on the train to visit a client in another province, why don’t you bring your wireless Internet connection and check your e-mails along the way? When you take a break from work, why don’t you call your partner and kids and have a little chat about their whereabouts? When you’re often physically away from home, your family doesn’t have to feel you’re also emotionally absent.
Refuse, If You Have to
If you have valid reasons, you may say “No” to certain requests or demands. Your colleagues will most probably empathize with you. They understand that you have personal priorities as much as they do. In the same way, if your colleagues refuses for an important reason, respect their decision. Everyone in the management consulting team can always make a compromise.
Getting a summer internship program or being employed by a management consulting firm is a once in a blue moon opportunity. Though you’re expected to work hard, don’t forget the fun side of it. Love what you’re doing; it’s the perfect idea of combating negative forces at work. Get to know your teammates on a personal level. Know their stories and share yours, too.