What is the bench or beach? The term “bench” or “beach” is a wordused in the consulting industry to describe a period of time that a consultant usually spends at the firm’s head-office when they have finished a project and are waiting to begin the next one.
Sometimes consultants perceive their time on the bench to be an opportunity to relax or take a ‘back-seat’ approach. Some may undertake low-level internal administrative duties and at worst may become demotivated and disinterested with on-going business activities. Paradoxically, the most successful businesses make ‘bench’ time as productive as possible and use the time positively. At JDX we believe in the latter. As a result, JDX have renamed the time spent between projects as “The Greenhouse” – a unique environment for growth and personal development. The Greenhouse is a mechanism for developing technical skills as well as professional relationships.
The Greenhouse is the ideal time to gain exposure to senior management and other senior internal stakeholders, building better relationships with them on a daily basis; something that is not always possible whilst at client site. For example, whilst in The Greenhouse, consultants will reach out to an unfamiliar senior staff member in order to catch up on the firm’s development and gain an insight into future business opportunities. Time spent at the office gives a consultant a great chance to develop their professional network.
The Greenhouse is utilised as an opportunity to participate in learning and development programmes, for example furthering application skills (Excel, PowerPoint). By providing business related tasks within the head office, The Greenhouse allows consultants to evaluate gaps in their education and polish their skill-set in a low-pressure environment. In fact, this article was written by one of our consultants in The Greenhouse.
It can be a great opportunity to make a difference to the firm and senior management projects by exhibiting leadership ability and an enthusiastic attitude. Consultants should not sit back and shy away from tasks; it is important to be inquisitive and participate. Whilst in The Greenhouse consultants will produce Thought Leadership articles on expertise gained from their recent projects, or on current financial affairs. Owning an internal project, or proposing ideas to benefit the company are always valuable contributions. Such activities allow consultants to gain transferable skills, such as: time management, presentation, communication, and report writing.
It is important for consultants to set goals in order to stay focused and engaged whilst in-between projects. Time can also be used to prepare for annual reviews, set milestones and track contributions throughout the year. This pro-active approach is guaranteed to pay-off when appraisals are due. Our consultants firmly believe that their time in The Greenhouse is not wasted.
Leave for your next project having made a positive contribution to your company – Make yourself memorable!