Campus Blog: Managing the 3 P's Productivity, Performance and Perceptions

By Jean-Francois Charette

Business Technology Analyst, Consulting | Summer Intern 2014

As a summer intern in the Montreal TS&A practice, my experience working at Deloitte Consulting was eye opening in many ways. I believe the following lessons learned are particularly pertinent to new hires with little or no previous experience in consulting.

Managing productivity is critical in ensuring success as an analyst. For example, I had to manage multiple work streams sharing a common deadline. After experimenting with different ways of working and collecting feedback, I came to three conclusions as to how I could maximize my productivity.

The first is knowing that efficient multitasking is a myth. Programming an Excel model and reading an incoming email while making yourself a coffee may give the illusion that you are getting more accomplished, but chances are this is not the case. Worse, you have to concentrate simultaneously on multiple moving parts, increasing the likelihood of errors. Bottom line: devote your time to one task at a time and prioritize.

Second, I learned to apply the 80/20 rule when working on elements that would be revised and fine-tuned by more senior colleagues. This does not mean to invest less effort, but to keep in mind which elements are less likely to be reshuffled and to concentrate most of your efforts there.

The final productivity lesson is about getting comfortable with being evaluated on your results and not your efforts. In other words, face time in the office has little merit if it is does not produce the required results. My advice: adapt your work schedule to fit your productivity cycle. There’s little value in staying until 10PM at the office just to prove you are working hard.

I also came to three key conclusions about maximizing performance. First, leverage internal resources to their maximum potential. Whether it’s databases or research reports, the tools at your disposal are impressive. Second, take time to clarify goals and objectives behind requests. It always saved me time in the end and helped me deliver a result aligned with the desired outcome, which translates to a higher performance. The last performance-related tip is to take initiative. Proposing a carefully thought out plan or idea will be received positively, even if it doesn’t work out in that given context.

Managing perceptions was my final lesson as an intern. Make sure to under-promise and over-deliver when possible.  Second, avoid saying “no.” Instead, propose an alternate solution. Finally, remember that you are the most important person to manage perceptions with. Get comfortable being uncomfortable with your day-to-day work. Rarely did I undertake a task I had mastered in the past, which can be nerve rattling to say the least.

My suggestion: take a step back from time to time. It might help you realize that not being an expert in government agency cost reduction initiatives doesn’t mean you don’t have a future in consulting.

Good luck!

Jean Francois is a 3rd year student at the university of HEC Montreal majoring in Marketing and Finance

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