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Management consultants: This is how to deliver results.

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Talent strategy is executives’ No. 1 priority. That’s not guesswork—it’s based on data. Check out this finding from the 2020 State of Talent Optimization Report:

37% of execs say talent strategy is execs' No. 1 priority

As the report found, companies that practice talent optimization see higher employee engagement. Their people perform better. And they succeed on more strategic initiatives.

Yet 64% of executives admit they don’t have a talent strategy. And 30% of execs say they’ve needed “extensive help” from consultants with talent strategy in the past five years.

As a consultant, how do you fill this need? How can you get leaders aligned on talent strategy—then help them execute it?

The answer is surprisingly simple. And it can be done in three steps.

1. Gain alignment on business strategy.

If members of the senior leadership team aren’t on the same page about which goals to pursue, that’s a problem. Before you can help them with their talent strategy, you need to make sure they have an agreed-upon business strategy. 

The PI Strategy Assessment measures alignment—or lack thereof—among the senior team. The assessment distills business strategy down into 20 strategic statements. Each statement relates to one of four strategy types:

PI four strategy quadrants

Senior leaders identify the initiatives they feel are most important to pursue. They also note their level of confidence in the company’s ability to succeed in each. The entire process takes about five minutes.

Results in hand, you can help clients identify where there’s clear agreement on certain initiatives. You can also point out where there’s dissent. The tool helps you have these conversations—easy or tough.

In doing so, you ensure senior leaders have a business strategy that’s agreed-upon.

2. Measure the behavioral makeup of senior leadership.

Once you have agreement on which strategic initiatives to pursue, you can determine whether the C-suite is equipped to lead these objectives.

Start by determining the behavioral makeup of the team. The PI Behavioral Assessment™ is a two-question, six-minute assessment that lets you better understand the motivations and desires of each executive. From there, you can determine how these behaviors make up the larger team dynamics.

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3. Assess how well the leadership behavior fits the strategy.

PI CEO Mike Zani demonstrated how this might work in the New frontier of HR webinar. During the webinar, Zani mapped members of the PI leadership team across the four strategy quadrants.

Almost all the execs were proactive, fast-moving individuals. But some had a more informal, flexible leadership style, while others were more formal and detail-driven. Since PI falls squarely into the Exploring and Producing quadrants, these senior team behaviors are just right.

For example, PI’s proactive executive team is a good fit for the strategic initiatives the company is pursuing. These goals include developing new products, growing quickly, and delivering results. This is demonstrated in the Team Work Styles tool, shown below.

New frontier of HR - Team Work Styles

By doing a similar exercise with your clients, you can develop self-awareness among the senior team. This will help them understand where their strengths lie. It will also show where there are leadership gaps. Of course, you can guide them in how best to fill those gaps. 

Once you’ve identified leadership gaps, start conversations with clients to get those spots filled. Though difficult, executives can alter their leadership style to fit the need. However, business strategies change. Having executives “stretch” themselves with every change isn’t realistic.

Your client can also promote someone to fill the needed spot on the senior team. Or, if the talent doesn’t exist within the company, they could make an outside hire.

With the right leadership in place, your clients can execute their talent strategy with confidence.

Make talent strategy your differentiator.

As a consultant, if you’re not providing an offering related to talent strategy, you’re missing out on a growing market. You’re also missing an opportunity to do your clients a great service.

Interested in leveraging PI to help clients craft a winning talent strategy? Become a PI Certified Partner.

Lee is the SVP of strategy and corporate development at PI. He is surprisingly frugal, but spends freely on tools, travel, and experiences with friends and family.

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