Problem in my firm

Bain BCG manager McKinsey McKinsey & Company problems
New answer on May 23, 2022
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 20, 2022

Hello all,

i have joined a consulting firm 2months ago as a senior BA; i have a medical degree with few yrs of clinical experience but no consulting experience. 
i joined a project 1 week ago but the senior consultant (acting manager) is not welcoming at all, she dismiss my ideas without explaining why wrong, does not engage me in conversation and if i asked a question her reply would be to align with the other BA. She would assign me only graphics to do very little content working. One time i asked a question to clarify something she stopped meeting and asked the other BA if they understood; they all did, so she replied by “thank you”.

it has been only a week. 
to note its my first project and the principal debriefed me on projec; he then asked her to on-board me on project, she didn’t but rather told a BA to do so. And she is good and welcoming to the other BAs

problems: 1. I am not really benefiting alot. 2. I am not involved in discussion anymore. 3. I don’t ask her during meetings any questions anymore. 4. It’s disrespectful 

should i address it to the principal directly (who is hands on; daily meeting with the team)?

how should I approach that situation?

shouldn't the manager be coaches for new joiners? do they expect new joiners to be fully engaged and fully aware of ppt and excel function?

(edited)

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Anonymous B replied on May 21, 2022

Hi Anonym A,

Reading your side of the story it indeed seems like an horrible (acting manager). On my very first project with the firm, my manager actually never interacted with the team. We had onboarding with the entire team for 20min the first day and never got in touch with him ever again except for the day of the steerco when he asked us to write the exec sum for him. With another junior (that joined 3months ago at this point) we had an entire stream to take care of with litterally no guidance. And today i'm still in consulting. So don't worry, it's not because your first project is terrible that your chances of succeeding are ruined.
 

With that being said, what should you do?

  • For your daily work (ppt, excel, setting up calls, interviewing…) ALWAYS refer to other BA to know how it's should be done. Ask them for tips and how it works. They will know. And if they don't they will redirect you towards someone who knows
  • For any decision: Always use a proactive approach. Ask the person right below your acting manager that (i) a decision regarding task A needs to be taken, (ii) you thought about doing action B but (iii) wanted to confirm with him if it was ok and whether you should ask your acting manager approval
  • For meeting, conversation and so on. Keep notes of everything. When you don't understand something always ask other BA, what it means. It's most likely something they know but that you aren't familiar with yet. And if they don't then at the end of meeting ask your acting manager
  • For the tasks you were assigned. Always do it thoroughly. Check several time that everything is correct, clean and clear before sending it. And once you're done be proactive by telling the person below your manager that you're free and that you can help
  • At the end of the project. Ask for a meeting with your manager to debrief the mission with her. Explain to her that at first you had trouble with but what was expected of you and how to start the project as it was your first. Explain as well the changes you made (see bullet points above) and if it was what she expected of you as a new member. Also ask for feedback about what was good and what to do better and use the occasion to convey that you had trouble understanding her expectations and guidance

Things aren't always smooth at the beginning, it's perfectly normal so don't be discourage. With that being said, here are a few comments that in my opinion are very important:

  • A manager job on the project is extremely stressful. He (or she) has to manage the clients interaction and solicitations, the partner expectations and demand, organize the project smoothly and is held accountable for everything produced by the team. This is a demanding job where you have countless things to take care of at all time
  • For someone acting manager (so not familiar with this new position) this is even more true
  • YOUR job, as a junior is to make the life of your manager as easy as possible. This means taking mental charges off your manager's plate
    • Frankly speaking, this isn't your manager job to teach you stuff about ppt. She has much more important stuff to take care of. On the other hand, this is exactly why there are other people with less seniority on the project. They are the people you should consult for daily help
    • For instance, having a more senior position now (but not being a manager), i always tell more junior member of the team to never hesitate to contact me when they have a question. And that I will gladly help. I always share tips and ask several times a day to all member if everything is ok on their side. This isn't to manage them or make myself important but to make things as easy as possible for them (so they are confortable in their daily tasks) AND for the manager of the project as well
    • And unfortunately, it also goes both ways. They are several more daily task that i frankly don't have the time to do anymore and need to let people more junior deal with (assure daily connection with experts network for instance)

I am NOT saying this to say that your manager behavior is normal or acceptable but to make you understand that unfortunately even if she was different, she probably wouldn't have the time to take care of you on a daily basis. Of course, some managers take much more time to help new consultants and interns but not all can or want to do that given the absurd amount of tasks they have.

All in all, don't get discourage. This is only the beginning and in no way shall it represents how the future will be (not even how the future of your first mission)!

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 21, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

First of all, I'm really sorry to hear about your situation - this sucks.

A few thoughts here:

  1. You need to get used to this. I have had some horrible managers (and some amazing ones). Believe it or not, I have had far worse than what you are describing…this is part of the professional world (sorry)
  2. Aim to not take things personally. Aim to not overreact.
  3. Just because you need to get used to this, does not mean you need to “accept” it. She sounds terrible. Bide your time and get out from under her ASAP. Recognize that if you don't perform well it's her fault, not yours. You will get a boss in the future who recognizes your worth and builds you up.
  4. I personally would highly recommend not going around her and speaking to her superiors. I have never seen this work out well
  5. I also advise you to not take advice from a Q&A like this one. This is an immensely complex situation and we only know part of it. You might want to hire a career coach (not case coach) to help you navigate this
  6. Reach out to me for my consulting survival guide…it lists out 25 tips for surviving in consulting
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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 23, 2022
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

For all issues dealing with incompetent managers you will have to force communication. She should by now have told you exactly what the issues are and why she is not communicating with you. Some people just have poor EQ and are uncomfortable having difficult conversations.

Since this is your career at stake, set up a call and have an open and honest 1:1 discussion asking for feedback and how you can improve alongside sharing observations of her behavior which makes you feel left out. I would also reach out to the Partner and HR as a proactive measure. Instead of complaining at this point just mention that you feel like you are not contributing much and that the manager does not seem to want to engage you so you would like their help in becoming better. This way they will be aware of the issue and you can get ahead of any negative feedback the manager might give them.

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Angelina
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on May 20, 2022
Digital Health start-up founder; ex-BCG; SDA Bocconi. Youtube: Angelina's Business World

Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear that you're not having a nice experience: unfortunately, not many people are able to be good leaders, let alone mentors. If this is a high-paced project, then it's understandable why the acting manager might be overly stressed and not have enough time/energy to “babysit" the new joiner. Also, it is easy for people that exclusively worked in consulting their entire life to become a bit close minded and assume that their work process and knowledge base are universal and that, therefore, everyone must operate according to them.

My advice for the short term would be to seek help from peers that are 1-3 years more experienced than you are to channel most of your non project-specific questions to them and ask them for suggestions of where you could improve. Most consulting firms assign a buddy to new joiners, so leverage yours!

For the long term, as someone that worked exclusively on healthcare projects, I would advice to seek projects in the healthcare field, where you will be able to shine and contribute the most. Leverage your strengths and fill in the gaps that you have as quickly as you can.

Good luck!

 

 

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Lucie
Expert
updated an answer on May 20, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer and coach & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hi there, 

I think the expectations weren't properly set. I would recommend to ask for a conversation with the acting manager and explain well your situation (without blaming or much of the negativity) and share what are your expectations. This should help to clarify what is going on and how to move forward. If you don't feel comfortable, hire a coach to help you with this. 

Good luck,

Lucie

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(edited)

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 20, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Sorry to hear about that, I have been in your shoes and it´s for sure a horrible experience. However, the problem is that is more common than what you would think! And dealing with those situations gracefully is part of the challenge. 

What I would do is address the manager first, and tell her precisely what you are saying here. Ask proactively for feedback and coaching. 

Only if that doesn´t make her react, escalate. But you would look very badly if she hears this from her leadership instead of from you first.  

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Adi
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 20, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hi,

Its not nice what you are experiencing but please get ready for tough situations and tough people. Its only one week, so dont draw too many conclusions straight away. You are very new & unproven and sounds like you don't have the credibility and trust yet.

Important thing is to not be get too emotional & sensitive here. People's behaviour is not in your hand. What's totally in your control is that you dont let such events bother you too much. Focus on giving your best and producing high quality work. If there has been any inappropriate behavior, then don't tolerate that at all and escalate by all means.

Build a relationship with the other BA, spend some time with them to understand how you can really add value.

Find some 1-2-1 time with this acting manager during a more relaxed time (Thu evening, Fri perhaps) and discuss the project, role and their expectations. They will open a bit more easily. 

Your performance/contribution needs to match or exceed their expectations. And you need to have clarity on this absolutely. 

Give it some more time and if situation doesn't improve, then approach the Principal.

Hope all goes well for you.

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