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May 29, 2012
Thoughts

No More Mr. Nice Guy

My dad celebrated his 50th anniversary at the same company this past January. Anyone who knows my dad considers him genuine, trustworthy and dedicated. He’s the type of guy who doesn’t call in sick, works on vacation and considers himself lucky when he leaves each day that he has the opportunity to go back to work tomorrow. When you meet him, he is always “fantastic” and forever optimistic that this is the Cubs’ year.

I idolize my dad and hope to accomplish what he has over his career. My dad’s great success has come from staying the course with a strong work ethic and a “nice guy” approach, which are traits that I internalized early on in life. During these tough economic times, I like many people have worked longer hours, met unreasonable deadlines, managed multiple projects simultaneously and still thanked my lucky stars that I had an opportunity to work the next day. Completing the projects my clients considered important on time and under budget, bringing up new ideas and using strategic thinking to find better ways to accomplish the goal more efficiently has resulted in satisfied clients, job retention and even more responsibility.

While these skills make an exemplary employee and a decent consultant, I learned at Kenway Consulting that this approach was lacking what many companies really need in an exemplary consultant.  The employees at Kenway Consulting strive to live by our Guiding Principles that help us “to be good,” “to be truthful” and “to spread the word.”  In the past, I thought that I lived by those principles by simply doing what was asked, working hard and being a “nice guy.” In hindsight, I was providing a disservice to my clients by always saying “yes” and rarely telling them when I believed they were wrong.

At Kenway Consulting, I am a part of an organization where delivering constructive criticism and making decisions that are factually based are held with the highest regard.  This means that we are expected to push back on our clients and at times tell them that their decisions are unsound in a diplomatic manner using facts and logic to explain our position.  We use an issue and risk log as our tool on all projects to swiftly identify areas of concern, define an agreed-upon action plan and document our progress towards resolving and mitigating these issues and risks. This is a liberating process that more often than not is appreciated by our clients. It provides our consultants with a platform to do what is right and say what many are thinking but rarely saying aloud.

Over time, I have come to realize that by being good and truthful, I may not always feel like the “nice guy.”  However, I have found that by being diplomatic, transparent and steadfast with our principles, I have actually earned stronger partnerships with my clients.  As Kenway Consultants, we are enabled by our core values to play a unique role on projects.   Because we are not looking to work at one place for 50 years, we can instead focus on adding the most value possible for our clients, even if this means delivering unpopular messages or making difficult decisions.  Companies bring on Kenway as a trusted advisor, because this outside perspective is not always obvious to everyday employees, even the most dedicated.

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