A consultancy firm is a composite of many functions and practices. In the midst of the motion and commotion between job deliverables and other client work, the firm might overlook the fact that it is comprised of human beings, who, for lack of other jargon are called resources. Human Resource Development is the practice that will sustain the firm on a long term basis.
There are four important aspects to the Human Resources Development in consulting firms, namely, recruitment and career planning, training and development, performance assessment and development, and motivation management. Recruitment is one of the most basic factors that affect the sustenance of the firm. Recruitment is generally based on project requirements. As each project is unique, there can be no critical mass that a firm can reach. It is dependent on the future plans of the firm, which in turn, affects the expansion plan. Therefore, present and future operations must be taken into consideration during the recruitment process. The kind of expertise that the firm looks at depends on the focus area of the firm. If the firm is non-specific in its project subjects, grooming post-graduate or undergraduate students into general consultants is alright. But if the firm is specific in terms of its vertical and horizontals and the projects it chooses within those parameters, managers with that expertise would do better. For such firms, a career plan for consultants might look towards development of experience in handing problem situations, solving such problems, and later, avoiding those problems.
With respect to training and development, HR must concentrate on:
• Developing expertise in strategic areas
• Updating knowledge and skills in the area in which the firm is focused
• Exposing generalists to all the sectors in which the firm functions
Training can come in various shapes and sizes. A few examples of training programs are, computer-based training, induction and informal training, job instructions, management trainee programs, training the trainer, etc…Induction is the first platform where the employee is introduced to the organization. The policies, practices and purpose of the organization are made known to the employee. A well-designed induction must cater to the following points:
• Helping the newcomer overcome the initial nervousness
• Developing a sense of belonging to the firm
• Providing information about the nature of work, facilities available, the structure of the organization, opportunities within the organization, etc…
The first phase of the induction program must cover the company profile, its geographical location, description of the services if offers, hierarchy within the firm, company policies and procedures, promotion and growth opportunities, and recreational services offered. In the second phase the new employee is integrated into the firm by making her see that her goals must be in sync with the organizational goals and that what is good for the firm is also good for her. All help is provided to help her network with the other newcomers as well as the ones who are already there with the firm.
Measurement of organizational performance is needed to monitor the overall performance of the organization. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the metrics that are collected internally and that directly contribute to the external success of the firm. While this is being performed at the macro level, every individual within the organization has to be appraised for his/her performance. A good appraisal comprises of information gathered from many sources and where everyone’s performance is evaluated. A performance appraisal form comprises of the strategic goals of the firm. The results should reflect on the job responsibilities of the employee. All the skills and abilities of the employee in turn should explain the results accomplished. Hence this is inclusive of the two most common performance measurement systems, result metrics and process measures. These two systems hold good to measure organizational performance also.
The ultimate goal of the HR here is to ensure job satisfaction for the employees of the firm, because that is the key to retention and high productivity. That is also the way to breed loyalty to the firm. Keeping the employee motivated is as important as working on client deliverables. After all for the HR the employees are the clients. Organizing birthday parties, celebrating their work anniversaries in the firm, lunches and dinners, rewarding them for developing certain competencies or for attaining a specific target, all these go a long way in keeping the employee happy. Internal consulting that is well done reflects on the consulting work done for the clients.