The Signs That Consulting Is Right For You

Consulting is a career that comes with many perks such as flexible hours, new projects and clients every few months, and autonomy over your work. After hearing this, you might think that consulting is your dream job. However, there are a few things to consider before jumping into the world of consulting. There is a lot of buzz going around about the lucrative industry which is why many professionals are considering making that move to the more fluid and flexible career. It is important to recognize whether or not consulting will be the right fit for you. So, here some of the signs that will tell you that consulting is the right career choice.

 

You Like To Focus On The Work You Are Doing

Do you see yourself as someone who likes to roll up their sleeves and working hard to create outcomes? Then, consulting might be the right fit for you. By going into a career in consulting, you leave behind all the other aspects of being an employee. This means no managing of other people, no more performance reviews, no more worrying about the last company meeting, and no more thinking about your next steps within the organization. Now, some people enjoy managing others and want to be involved in a company’s long-term strategies. However, consultants are primarily detached from all those other things, so if that sounds like something you would enjoy, you would then enjoy working as a consultant.

 

You Lie Control Over Your Schedule and Workload

While consultants don’t exactly work less than other employees do, they do have more of a say in what they work on and when they work. So, if there is a new project to work on that you are not interested in, as a consultant, you can decline that project. Employees, otherwise, wouldn’t have that same luxury. In addition to this, the time you spend working is based on the deliverable. So, when you are able to take away all the other aspects of being an employee, you find that, as a consultant, you can work fewer hours but show more results.

 

You Have A Specific Expertise/Niche

If you are someone who enjoys working in a particular field like email marketing or even social media, then consulting might be the career choice for you. Most companies, when hiring a consultant are looking for someone who can give specific expertise on a project or initiative. They are not seeking general advice on a broad range of topics. However, this is not to say that consulting is your chance to change your expertise. For example, if you have worked on brand marketing your entire career to this point and suddenly want to go into digital analytics, consulting will not be the best way to go about that. Your best bet would be to work as an employee where you can get your feet wet, learn from the other teams within the organizations and get that hands-on experience before you make the jump to consulting.

What You Should Know Before Starting A Consulting Business

Many professionals are becoming more and more interested in starting their own consulting business. It has the perks of a great career path with a lucrative upside. However, what people don’t initially realize is that consulting is not as easy as it appears to be. In fact, it is a lot harder than you might think. Now, this is by no means to discourage you from starting a consulting business if that is what you are passionate about. There are some cautions to be aware that can save you a lot of headaches down the line and move you closer to that dream. So, with that said, here are some of the things you should know before starting a consulting business.

 

You Will Face Cranky People

You’re going to have to deal with cranky people. It is just part of the nature of the job. Consulting is a face-to-face business where you are meeting with people, shaking hands, and have conversations with them. Not many people can handle unpleasant relationships, and if that is the case for you, then you may want to reconsider going into consulting. You are going to deal with people who aren’t the nicest when they speak to you, but part of the job is figuring out who is worth working with and who is not. You will find that at some points, you are going to have to deal with some relationships that aren’t most pleasant to handle.

 

Knowledge Is Your Deliverable

At the end of the day, as a consultant, you were hired for one reason, and that is your knowledge. It is the one thing, individuals and companies expect from their consultant. They want your expertise in the particle niche for which you were hired, and for this reason, you must assert this knowledge and present yourself as the expert. Your clients are hiring you because when it comes to certain projects, you know something that they do not. So, don’t hesitate to tell it like is and deliver the knowledge that they paid for. Some people may agree, and some people may disagree, but you would be doing them a disservice if you didn’t deliver your knowledge to its fullest capacity.

 

You Might Not Be Charging Enough

One of the common mistakes that new consultants make is not charging enough for their service. Whether it is guilt or inexperience, this is a common blunder that most people make. While there is no magic formula for setting your fee, there is a general rule, and that is to charge more than you think you should. You have to remember that just as your clients are getting a return on their investment, so should you. Also, the higher your rate, the better you and your service look. A consultant whose fees are $100 per hour will be viewed as far less valuable than one who charges $5,000 per hour. You are selling yourself and your knowledge, so you want to make sure that clients know it is worth the investment.

Ways To Motivate Employees During The Holiday Season

Alexandra ArivillagaMaintaining employee morale during the holiday season can be a pretty arduous task.  Whether it be that the winter days are longer, impending vacation days, or financial holiday stress, employees tend to become preoccupied and somewhat disengaged. Ultimately, it is up the managers to navigate ways to keep employees engaged and on track to meet year-end goals. Developing an enriching culture during the holidays will encourage employees sustain or even improve productivity. How can managers successfully accomplish doing so? Here are a few tips to help keep employees motivated during the holiday season.

Give the office a festive facelift

Transform the office into a space that embraces the holiday spirit. Employees would much rather be at work if they were in a space that was warm and inviting. Managers could even use the decorating the office as a team building  opportunity. The weekly or bi-weekly office meeting could instead be replaced by entire office decorating together.

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How to Banish Workplace Stress

alexandra arrivillagaIt’s a well known fact that companies with healthy and happy employees tend to perform better overall. This is due to the fact that employees have enough energy and focus to perform as efficiently as possible within their roles. Managing levels of employee stress not only makes for  a more pleasant working environment, but it has been proven time and time again that this allows for employees to have a greater output, quality of work  and potential for retention than their stressed out counterparts. While this may not be terribly surprising or revolutionary news, the truly difficult aspect of this information is creating a company culture that truly enables its employees to appropriately manage their stress levels.

From a higher level perspective, CEOs and the executive team need to identify whether or not high levels of unchecked stress are currently impacting their workforce. If that is indeed the case, then correcting the overwhelming levels of stress taken on by the employees needs to be addressed at multiple levels within the company.

While a healthy amount of stress can lead to employees completing their tasks on deadline and taking their work seriously, too much stress is detrimental to all parties involved. With that being said, below are 5 ways that Managers can aid their workforce on the road to stress recovery!

1. Encourage Your Employees to Get High Tech Healthy

From FitBits, to a million apps and a multitude of other health minded apps, make sure that your employees are using tools that will encourage them to get up and move around, drink more water and even get more restful sleep. Whether you decide to sponsor the cost of a new fitness gadget for all employees, encourage everyone to join a particular app, or reward those who wear FitTech the best, make sure that you are communicating a clear message that health is important and that your employees need to create that space for themselves using the tools available.

2. Meditation

Whether you bring in a speaker on the benefits of meditation, create a quiet room with comfy pillows and blankets designated as a meditation space or demand complete silence and reflection for ten minutes out of the work day, make a point to show that meditation is valuable.

3. Offer Support

Although the First two methods of decreasing the amount of stress at work through encouraging beneficial health and wellness practices, offering support is a bit broader. Make sure that your employees have a clearly defined role and that the expectations are transparent. Additionally, it’s important that employees are qualified and trained appropriately for their jobs. There’s nothing like on the job training, but that is often times not enough, so making a point to regularly evaluate where your employees stand in terms of their skill sets and if there are any gaps in their knowledge is absolutely key to helping the employees not only grow, but be able to competently and comfortably fulfill their roles. In addition to ongoing training, offering proper managerial and structural support is key to ensuring that the employees are able to do their jobs well, and get help if they need it. This is critical in de-stressing your workforce.

While all companies maintain a different approach to de-stressing their workforce, these are some of the most helpful ways to do it, but remember that it requires a holistic, thoughtful and realistic approach.

Owl Management Consulting Now in Framingham

Alexandra Arrivillaga Owl ManagementEarlier this week, Alexandra Arrivillaga De Castro, (known in professional circles as Alexandra Arrivillaga) announced that Owl Management Consulting is opening its doors to a third location based in Framingham, MA. This announcement comes after two successful location openings at One Boston Place and Ten Post Office Square earlier this year.

The newest addition to Owl Managment Consulting will act as headquarters for the growing company. This new location has an intersting history of its own as the former home of John A. Lynch. Mr. Lynch was well known for his work as an a writer and photographer, and served as an Honorary trustee of the New England Wildlife Society. 

CEO Alexandra Arrivillaga admits that the experience of opening this new location for her thriving business has been an exercise in having things come full circle. She explains, “When I lived in an apartment in Framingham, I used to walk in Garden in the Woods [botanic garden and headquarters of the New England Wild Flower Society]. This is where I came up with the idea for my company.” She goes on to explain, “Now, I feel I have come full circle opening this location. My real estate agent Ben worked tirelessly to help me find the property. I am so lucky to have my own ‘Garden in the Woods.'”

Alexandra Arrivillaga De Castro’s enthusiasm is palpable, and this new location will provide one more outlet for Owl Management Consulting to provide clients with a number of well-developed services.

 Owl Management Consulting caters to private, public and not-for-profit organizations that seek advisory services. Owl specializes in services that include; customer relationship management, organization change management, diversity training for managers and Strategy, risk management and business process services.

The company’s reputation is built on the strength of delivering master advisory services, under the leadership of communications and management consultant expert Alexandra Arrivillaga.

To Learn more about Owl Management Consulting, visit the company website here.

Learning in the Workplace

Alexandra ArrivillagaEvery year, companies across the country invest billions of dollars in spending on employee education and training. While research suggests that employees who work at companies with comprehensive employee development programs are more engaged, most of these programs don’t actually work.

According to a study conducted by Deloitte, the majority of the companies surveyed for the study claimed that retention, engagement and culture top the list for priorities. These same subjects admitted that improving employee learning programs was also a top priority. One might deduce that these subjects believe that ongoing learning and training is the way to improve retention, engagement and company culture.

While this may be true, another consulting company found that many of these development programs are not effective.  The following tips are suggested for improving employee development programs:

Managers are the Key

In the past, managers played the role of mentor and passed along valuable skill sets and advice to their employees. While ideally that is still the case, the manager is often overburdened today, and may not have enough time or incentive to continue this tradition. In order for managers to effectively coach their employees, the managers need the support, space and time to do this.

 

Skill Set Shelf Life

The kind of information gained through a mentorship or a formal program have the potential to help an employee throughout their career. However, when looking at technical skills, these change practically by the day. Technology is changing all of the time and a skillset relevant today may literally be obsolete tomorrow. This heightened realm of innovation underscores the necessity for frequent training. Instead of spending months on one skill, employers should be identifying ways to share relevant information immediately, then move on to the next.

Be Flexible

The goal of these development programs should be to equip your employees with new information and skills that give them tools to be more effective or knowledgeable in their role, or at least for them to stay more engaged. With those goals in mind, you don’t want this experience to be too overwhelming or come at the expense of their work. That means there should be some flexibility in terms of when they undergo this training. That could mean having modules that are easily watched on their phones or multiple options for in-person training sessions. If the employee has some choice in when or how they participate in training, there’s less of a chance that it will be viewed as an inconvenience.

Because retention, engagement and culture are top of mind for so many companies, it makes sense that they are actively spending a significant amount of capital in education and development programs, as it directly addresses those concerns. However, it’s important to realize that training alone is ineffective.  Proper training needs to be accompanied by support from managers, offered regularly while maintaining flexibility in how the employees participate.

 

101 for the One-on-One

Alexandra ArrivillagaIn most companies, regardless of the field, one on one meetings with direct reports are pretty regimented. These check-ins can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, but may at times feel unnecessary. If you’re dealing with an employee who is doing well and doesn’t have any issues, this may feel like you’re wasting there time. However, these meetings have the potential to be extremely useful not only for the two of you, but possibly for the company as well. Following these tips will encourage a more productive use of time and hopefully a breath of fresh air!

Change Your Environment : Even if these meetings only last 15 minutes, go for a walk outside. Having these meetings away from the office will help the two of you really focus on the meeting instead of being distracted by the eight million other things vying for your attention. If you’re sitting in the conference room, it’s very easy to just talk about current projects at the office. By getting out of the office you’ll shake up the routine, and the employee will also be able to talk more freely without the fear of being overheard by other co-workers.

It’s all in the questions. Instead of just asking how it’s going, get a bit more creative. Come up with some open ended questions that look at the bigger picture. Come up with specific questions. What are this employee’s  goals? How can you help this employee be more productive? Really check in, and get to know who this person is and how you can help them grow. If you feel like the employee isn’t really engaging with your questions, tell them what you’ve been working on and something that has been challenging for you. Soliciting advice or even just revealing some insight into your job and role might be helpful for the other employee.

Share the Mic : If there is something in particular that you need to address with this employee – by all means talk about it. However, this should really be a chance for the employee to have the floor. As a manager, you talk at your team a lot. Look at this as a chance for the individual team member to speak up about any of his or her concerns or thoughts.

One-on-ones are important because they offer an opportunity that is easily overlooked during the day, when everyone is wrapped up in their own work. Look at one-on-ones as a chance to get to know your employees and for them to know you. One-on-ones are a chance for you to offer professional development and create a space for the employee  to air any grievances, share ideas and reflect on their work.

 

How to Build Customer Relationships

Alexandra ArrivillagaTalk amongst yourselves: Make sure that your sales and marketing teams are in alignment. This means that they should be communicating regularly to make sure that they are presenting a united front to current and potential clients. Additionally, be keeping these two arms of your company in conversation, they can share data, information and insight with each other regarding the current and aspirational client base. By connecting these two teams both will understand who they are targeting and what traits make for an ideal customer. In addition to face to face meetings, there are a number of digital services and systems that can be incorporated into company infrastructure to facilitate these sorts of interior dialogues across departments.

Social media: Go to the customers. Create conversations relevant to your company and your customers. The easiest place to engage with your customers is on social media platforms. Come up with ways to engage with them there. Not only does this create a great forum for feedback, but your customers will feel actively engaged with your company, its services and products. Consider using tools that help identify trends when creating content on these platforms so that your content is au courant.
In addition to creating a dialogue with your customers through social media platforms, consider incorporating a live chat element onto your company website, and make sure that you have dedicated staff that will respond to customer inquiries promptly. Live chat can provide a quicker alternative to traditional phone-based customer service, immediate customer solutions, and potential leads for the sales department.

Take surveys: Although this shouldn’t be done so frequently that it becomes a deterrent or dis-incentivizes potential customers from engaging on your platform, surveys can be an excellent tool for showing that the opinions of your customers matter.

Positive reinforcement: Find ways to reward customers. Reward those that repeatedly show their loyalty and/or engage heavily with the company. Offer incentives, discount codes and more. Anything that encourages the customers to continue utilizing your services.

The Human Touch: Though this can be challenging at scale, try to find ways to connect with your customers in ways that remind them that there are people behind the company and its services who care about building relationships with the customers as well as addressing their needs. Get creative about how to do this at scale if you are  a larger company, and see how regional divisions can help with this as well.

When considering implementing any of these new measures intended to help connect with your customer base, there is one more thing that’s very important to keep in mind. And that is transparency. Today consumers expect transparency, and companies are lucky in that there are so many tools to implement this. And when considering the objectives of your company, take care to align them with the needs of the client. Why is your company and its services or products beneficial to them? And be clear about this. Transparency will take customer building to a whole new level.

 

Lock It Up Security LLC

security cameras

Alexandra Arrivillaga is the owner of Lock It Up Security LLC, a commercial-based telecommunications company in Boston, MA that works to serve as a world-class provider of electronic security and low-voltage solutions. Working on a sub-contractor basis, Lock It Up Security LLC installs security cameras in businesses, small and large.