Interest-Based Staffing vs. Ad-Hoc Staffing – Where Passion Meets Routine

Etudiants programme Grande Ecole en travail de groupe

Dans le cadre de leur spécialisation dans le secteur du conseil, les étudiants d’Audencia participent à un concours d’articles portant sur les enjeux liés à l’organisation des cabinets de conseil et aux carrières dans ce domaine. Chaque semestre, le sujet est différent, les étudiants sont invités à développer un point de vue réflexif sur les tendances du secteur, en lien avec les apports du cours. Les étudiants sont appelés à trouver un angle intéressant et original sur le thème qui leur est imposé, à interviewer un ou plusieurs professionnels du conseil sur ce sujet et à en tirer des conclusions argumentées pour y porter un regard nouveau.

Let’s talk about staffing, shall we? Picture this: you have a well renowned consulting firm with a bunch of professionals itching to sink their teeth into the next big project. But wait, there’s a twist! You’ve just got a new client and now the pressure’s on to create the dream team. It’s like ordering your meal at a restaurant: you either stick to your usual order, never daring to taste something new, or diving headfirst into a mysterious food-truck without a clue what’s on the menu. Well, prepare for a showdown because we’re going to tackle both Interest-Based Staffing and Ad-Hoc Staffing methods to evaluate the best approach to staffing.
Now, let's delve into the first approach to staffing, where it’s all about that Interest-Based Staffing (IBS) environment, creating a workplace that's as dynamic as it is captivating. With IBS, consultants are empowered to explore a wide range of projects and industries, fueling their innate curiosity all the while expanding their expertise. This approach not only keeps consultants engaged and satisfied in an arduous industry but is also the cornerstone of positive organizational culture, where consultants feel valued and supported.

But hold on to your hats, because even in this land of unicorns and rainbows, there are shadows lurking, according to a BCG Consultant who has chosen to remain anonymous:

Imbalance: With everyone clamouring for the juiciest projects, there's a risk of certain industries hogging all the spotlight. This could leave some consultants feeling like they're stuck on the sidelines, craving a chance to shine.

Skill Spreading: Jumping from project to project sounds thrilling, but there's a danger of spreading yourself too thin. Consultants might end up juggling so many balls that they struggle to master any one skill. It's a fine line between versatility and vulnerability.

Career Crossroads: While IBS offers a buffet of options, it's easy to get lost in the feast. Without a clear path forward, consultants risk wandering aimlessly, missing out on the chance to carve out their niche in the industry.

But amidst the abundance of opportunity, a burning question lingers: Are consultants truly living their best lives in this whirlwind of choices, or are they merely caught in a tempest of uncertainty? As consultants navigate the world of Interest-Based Staffing, they must ask themselves: Are we boldly forging our path to success, or are we merely drifting in the currents of chance?

Another method is to attribute a mission based on the past experiences of the consultant, more like an ad-hoc staffing. You don’t really get to choose what you want to work on, you are just hired to work on the same kind of project. Every. Single. Time.

Let’s peel back the curtain on a KPMG Consultant’s insight, who has chosen to remain anonymous. When senior managers need to staff on a new project, it’s a tale as old as time: they’ll either tap into the seasoned consultants pool, or they ask the intern or anybody else available to fill the gap.
Here’s the rub: consultants just never have a word on the matter. It’s like a routine. Boring. No room for growth, no room to develop new skillsets because you’re stuck with the same kind of project. You may be the best at those projects, but still, you’re not improving your competencies. And spare a thought for the intern who was onboarded on a mandate without any consideration, feeling more like a minion than a valued team member. Here, it’s a classic case of an agency conflict: one party is expected to act in another’s best interests. Sure, senior managers act in the firm’s best interests. They want someone with the right experience, skillset and reliability. Fair play. And if we look at the good side of it, the consultant will become a true master of their craft. They could go deep into the learning process and always improve from mandate to mandate. Still fair play.
Alas, the eternal tug-of-war between employees and employers. On one hand, we have interest-based staffing wherein staffers encourage individual and cultivate employee development. Consultants get to dance with projects aligned with their interests, fueling creativity and job satisfaction. It's like a party where everyone gets to dance to the beat of their own drum. On the other hand, you have experience-based ad-hoc staffing. Here, its all about the firms needs and project requirements, like a ballet choreographer who sees his dancers as cogs in the performance machine. By using existing expertise, firms can optimize their resources to win clients with specialized knowledge. For the firms, it's almost like they have a secret weapon up their sleeves.     
But hold the phone! While interest-based staffing fuels innovation, it can also feel like managing chaos when it comes to resource management. And while experience-based ad-hoc staffing has its strategic advantages; it risks squashing creativity and career growth like a beetle smashed. 
So, how can we find a middle ground? By embracing a blend of both approaches, we create a dynamic where individual passions fuel firm objectives. Picture a dance-off where consultants showcase their moves while staying in sync with the team routine. In the world of consulting, there's no one-size-fits-all solution to any given problem. But by balancing employee passion and firm objectives, we can develop a staffing strategy that's as symbiotic as it is effective. So, we urge consultant firms to let their consultants dance to the beat of their own drum while keeping their eyes on the prize.

By Sarah-Maude BOURGET, Owen EUBANKS and Rebecca TAKEDA