We all know the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’. Recently, this statement has shown itself to be true both personally and professionally. From teaching my four year old daughter that saying sorry cannot erase bad behavior, to a fellow consultant offering to help during crunch time at a client when she was just as busy as me. How we act, and what we deliver, is what matters.
At SEI, our model relies on consultants acting as business owners. Protecting the culture, building the brand, participating in recruiting, uncovering opportunities, and adding to our intellectual capital are just a few of the things a consultant can engage in. There are so many different ways to get involved that it can seem overwhelming to shoulder so many responsibilities. So how does SEI maintain excellence in all of those areas (along with our primary goal of outstanding client delivery) without consultant burn out?
This can be a challenge for SEI consultants as we are typically go-getters who contribute wherever we notice a need. It’s difficult to recall a time another SEI consultant said “no” when asked for help. What new hires often struggle with is narrowing focus and contributing where they will have the most impact.
So, how do we get our colleagues to be intentional with their time so they can meet commitments and exceed expectations?
- Set the Expectation – starting with our recruiting practice, we talk to candidates in the interview process about the different ways a consultant can add to the growth of SEI. To maximize value, our employees need to find where they can contribute in one or more areas. Limiting focus to a couple of key initiatives can often be the most difficult step as it’s not unreasonable that an enthusiastic new hire wants to come out of the gate strong and try to contribute everywhere. However, even if you can get involved in all areas, that doesn’t mean that you’re giving each enough time and effort to make a positive impact.
- Support the Expectation – once a new hire comes on board, they’re assigned an Advocate. The Advocate is a Principal Consultant who can act as a mentor, sounding board, oracle of answers for any SEI-related question, etc. for their dedicated newbies. Part of the Advocate’s job is to guide the new consultant through their first year at SEI, including helping them solidify their areas of focus within the company. Every individual that completes the interview process carries the same drive and commitment as other SEI consultants, but offers unique skills, experience, and expertise. The Advocate helps the consultant identify where they can best be leveraged and have the greatest impact.
- Create Ownership of the Expectation – company leaders often fall short when it comes to engaging employees and inciting passion for achieving goals. How do you get an employee to act like an owner? At SEI, we’ve answered this question: make them an owner. All SEI consultants are business partners in an employee-owned company we love. Because of this unique model, we all rely on each other to be successful. There’s no competition for a set number of promotions. There’s no benefit in withholding information or support from a colleague. In fact, the benefit lies in holding your peers accountable to their commitments and lending a hand when it’s needed. Through frequent staff meetings, strong collaboration, reviews, and social events, SEI colleagues pay attention to each other within our supportive network to ensure success for all of SEI.
I’m not just a consultant, I’m a mom. Like most of my colleagues, I’m also engaged in strengthening our community through nonprofit work. We SEI’ers have many commitments alongside our focus of delighting our clients. Because we strive to deliver superior results in all of those commitments, we have to be deliberate about creating balance – even I struggle not to raise my hand for every opportunity to contribute to our growth. We achieve excellence through collaboration, trust, and simply by doing what we say we’ll do. If this resonates with you, if you’re the type where your actions speak louder than your words, where your commitments turn into results, then we’d love to tell you more about what makes SEI the last place you’ll ever want to work.