How MBB consultants manage their work-life balance
Management consulting is known to be a profession with a difficult lifestyle, tight deadlines and frequent travel. In order to succeed in the long run and enjoy the ride along the way, it is important to manage lifestyle effectively. Below are several things you can do to manage/ improve your work-life balance.
In the long-term (in consulting we are speaking about 1–3 months) choose the right projects to work on based on a thoroughly conducted due diligence on the leadership, team, client, client problem, travel schedule etc. You can circumvent the projects that do not fit your lifestyle needs more often than not. Also, make sure to have a team discussion on personal needs at the beginning of each project. This includes ways of working together, reachability in after-hours, core working hours where everyone is present in the team room/ at the client site, working from home office/ hotel etc. Additionally, state and align your lifestyle needs such as dinner time, sports and other activities with your team and manager.
Apart from that, I want to highlight the benefit of such things as daily meditation, healthy food choices, walking instead of taking the cab, using a standing table etc. In the long run, they will go a long way.
In the short term (on a weekly basis) make sure to check in on the lifestyle needs discussed in the beginning of an engagement. Consulting firms have introduced regular team surveys to gauge the development of the work-life balance on a project over time. Deterioration will be discussed with leadership to improve the situation for all involved. In more extreme or prolonged cases HR staff and personal development managers will weigh in as well. When working towards an important milestone be mindful that hours could be longer and work could become more stressful. Being mentally prepared helps to manage expectation and stress levels as well. On the other side of the coin, make time for nice team activities after such milestones have been reached. Celebrate the success! Stay in contact with your friends and family throughout the week and make nice plans for the weekend to look forward to as well.
Lastly, make use of the flexibility consulting firms provide (and in turn expect from you). For example, even though you are traveling Monday to Thursday you can work from home on Friday and do not need to show up at the office.