The overlooked way of addressing stress & burnout in management consulting firms

Based on 15 years of experience in research and training of professional services, we have developed a psychometric assessment that is genuinely effective in substantially increasing productivity while simultaneously lowering burnout and stress.  

Staff turnover: cost of burnout in management consultancy firms

$150.000 or 150-200% of annual salary*

*Source: Driving the bottom line: improving retention. Saratoga human institute Human Resources. Cost includes lost productivity during a vacancy, training of new hires, increased labor costs due to overtime or contractor needs, hiring and onboarding costs, decreased client satisfaction, increased future turnover, and loss of institutional knowledge.  

Burnout in consultancy firms

Burnout levels among management consultants are disproportionately distributed; 1/4 of the consultants report more than double the amount of stress of the remaining 3/4 of the peers. Similar patterns can be generalized to all sorts of stress reactions.**

Personas Full Accurate

Accurate Alex

20% of the consultant firms’ juniors fits into the profile of this persona. 

Higher risk of burnouts compared to average

Personas Full Ambitious Kim Left Square

Ambitious Kim

30% of the consultant firms’ juniors fits into the profile of this persona. 

Higher risk of burnouts compared to average

Personas Full Achieving Charlie Right Square

Achieving Charlie

30% of the consultant firms’ juniors fits into the profile of this persona. 

Lower risk of burnouts compared to average

Personas Full Bright Robin Left Square

Bright Robin

20% of the consultant firms’ juniors fits into the profile of this persona. 

Lower risk burnouts compared to average

**The data comes from an unpublished study of some 250 legal consultants in three Nordic professional services firms by Jens Näsström, conducted in the Fall of 2019.

Illustration Other Standing 4

For consulting and services organizations, losing a consultant with revenue-generating relationships and deep customer knowledge drives the most considerable variability in cost with millions of dollars of potential impact.

Denis Whelan, Forbes Councils Member

Managing burnout effectively in consultancy companies using ambitionprofile

With ambitionprofile managers and HR get actionable, concrete suggestions and best practices that will drive long-term sustainable top performance, with improved ratings for work-life balance, stress, and job satisfaction. 

A challenging workplace

Consulting firms’ high-paced, uncertain working environment tends to trigger anxious overachievers in the wrong ways, leading to dangerous stress levels. Common organizational characteristics such as; Up or out, Tournament for partnership, Working with other highly ambitious and competent individuals, performance reviews, etc., drive stress in anxious overachievers. 

Solving the feedback paradox

Many young consultants ask for more feedback, but it is difficult for them to internalize when insecure overachievers get it. There is a Teflon effect if it is positive feedback since they often feel that they do not deserve it. On the other hand, there may be a disproportionate adverse reaction if it is harmful since it hits a weak spot. Drawing upon best practices for insecure overachievers offers leaders a way to navigate this feedback paradox. 

Overcome reluctance in seeking and receiving support

Struggling to uphold a distinct division between their professional and personal identities, insecure overachievers procrastinate in seeking – and accepting – help and support in coping with stress. They tend to delay until it is very late, or even too late, to help them reverse the stress and burnout spiral effectively.  

Cool off burnout levels in teams

Stress and burnout tend to rub off – anyone who has worked with a peer, a manager, or a genuinely struggling subordinate knows this first hand. As each team member receives support tailored for them and a personal map to improve their self-leadership, burnout levels in the whole team cool down. 

Illustration Reporting

3 times better at predicting stress then Big 5

Ambitionprofile is a psychometric assessment that profiles ambitious staff members. Our service helps managers and HR get practical, precise, concrete, and personalized suggestions and tips on how to work together more effectively. Productivity is always closely linked to well-being (and conversely, stress and burnout), work-life balance, and job satisfaction. 

Not many years ago McKinsey*** and Goldman Sachs**** intentionally sought out insecure overachievers to recruit them.

What is the problem with recruiting insecure overachievers?

Insecure overachievers have a strong drive but may need committed support to flourish in the long term. Unfortunately, stress and burnout are far too common consequences when they go into high-demand positions without training, a strategy, or support from their manager and HR. In a longer perspective, they tend to score worse on these HR critical metrics:

*** M. Hill. 2011. Inside McKinsey. Financial Times, 25 November. <Source link>

**** S. Mandis. 2013. What happened to Goldman Sachs: An insider’s story of organizational drift and its unintended consequences. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press. 4. M. Hill. 2011. Inside McKinsey. Financial