Kayla Ambrose
Kayla Ambrose

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Articles
10
Sun 16 June 2024
When confronted with complex challenges, gaining a clear perspective and developing an effective strategy can be daunting. During these situations, it may prove valuable to utilize external resources to receive a fresh perspective on the matter at hand. Recognizing when to pursue external expertise can transform problem-solving through added insights and industry-specific knowledge pertaining to intricate issues. 

Although seeking a consultant may present as the most impactful solution, not all challenges are suitable for receiving external assistance. Knowing how to navigate challenges and identify when to pursue outside aid can be pivotal to making informed decisions that best align with company goals. The following signs can help identify when to reach out for assistance from a consultant. 

  1. Inability to Meet Goals 
Utilizing metrics to measure individual and company performance is the best indicator of success. While failure to meet expectations once can be a fluke, persistent failure to adhere to performance expectations signifies a larger problem. If considerable effort to remedy this inability to meet goals leads to no avail, hiring a consultant is a powerful next step. Clear indications that the company as a whole needs assistance is through monitoring quarterly financial goals. Consistent decreases in quarterly financials can indicate that an outside perspective is needed to help identify the causes of underperformance. 
Other metrics to consider are employee-specific metrics. Using executive insight software, management can gauge the performance and sentiments of direct reports. Misalignment of management expectations and real employee data may indicate the need for external perspectives. The people within the company largely impact the productivity of the company, so ensuring the satisfaction of management and team members is fundamental. Seeking assistance from management consultants can help to regain organizational buy-in

2. Limited In-House Resources 
A lack of team members who have expertise within an area required for a specific project may indicate a need to hire a consultant. For example, the lack of a social media strategist for a large-scale marketing project can limit the success of a project. While the company may not require a full-time team member to maintain the company's social media presence, expertise on the best initial approaches to establishing the company within the space will help guide the team. Depending on the time and importance of the project at hand, it may be wise to seek external guidance rather than relying on current team members to gain additional skills. 

Technological advancements possess the potential to revolutionize the way that a company operates. From general bookkeeping or communication software advancements to intricate industry-specific technological developments, updating current company technology can prove beneficial. Failure to keep up with technological advancements can leave a company far behind competitors. Lacking in-house knowledge about current technological trends and implementation methods can be incredibly limiting for companies. Industry consultants have insights into technological changes within the industry and may be familiar with the best implementation strategies. Recognizing that a consultant is more knowledgeable about the technological space may indicate that getting assistance with new technology implementation is necessary. 

3. Lacking Inspiration and Burn-out
Stalling with idea creation is a glaring indication that additional help should be explored. It is difficult to determine what to do next and leaders must maintain a clear vision and direction for their company. While sharing ideas with other management members is a great step for gaining inspiration, a completely external source can provide a new source for ideation. Impartial and fresh perspectives gained from consultants present an effective addition to ideation processes. 

Along with needing additional inspiration sources, personal burnout as an executive or manager can be detrimental to the productivity of the company. Management positions are rigorous and demanding on a daily basis. It is normal for managers to need additional emotional support. Reaching out to consultants to develop strategies to combat symptoms of burnout or decrease overall stress from work is a useful tool. If hiring a consultant to manage burnout symptoms seems overwhelming, a lower commitment alternative such as peer mentor groups can be an effective first step. 

4. Time-Sensitive Projects 
An important consideration when determining whether to seek consulting is the time sensitivity of the project. Different projects possess varying degrees of time sensitivity. A project with a quickly approaching deadline or a short turnaround time may signal external aid should be utilized. Consultants are familiar with working under strict time constraints, so additional expertise working in a short time frame can relieve some stress. 

While having more hands on deck through the utilization of consultations may save time, it is important to evaluate the time-sensitive project on a case-by-case basis. Hiring consultants and updating them on the current project may prove to take a lot of time. Collaborating with a consulting team that has been utilized by the company in the past and is incredibly familiar with the company will require less time to update. Keeping this in mind can help guide the decision-making process on whether to involve an external consulting team.  

Hiring a consultant can appear to be an intimidating process. Determining whether a consultant would be beneficial is the first step in tackling any complex challenge at hand. While consulting may not be the right fit for a problem, hiring a new employee or contracting out work are other alternatives to get increased manpower to delegate tasks. 

Another solution for management who is hesitant to seek guidance from a consultant is to join a consultant-led mastermind group. These mastermind groups are comprised of other executives who have encountered similar problems. Together, group members can collaborate and seek advice from one another. Consultant-led mastermind groups allow executives and consultants leading the group to develop a relationship before committing to full consulting services. 

Regardless of the challenge at hand, knowing what tools are available and being familiar with them can simplify the problem-solving process. Consultants serve a multitude of functions including, improving performance, providing additional resources, assisting with creative ideation, and expediting time-sensitive projects. While consultants are a valuable resource, considering other problem-solving tools and critically evaluating each project are crucial to determining the optimal solution. 



Thu 30 May 2024
When building trust and engaging with potential new clients, executive mastermind groups are one of the most powerful tools small business consultants can implore. These mastermind groups bring together various small business owners to facilitate high-level discussions of the real-life problems they face. Together, small business owners can share insights, discuss problems,  and develop innovative solutions based on their experiences. By facilitating a mastermind group, small business consultants can have a seat at the table. 

Small business owners may be more hesitant to receive consulting services because outsiders do not know the intricacies of their business and how it operates. Building trust with small business owners through mastermind group sessions can break the barrier of unfamiliarity preventing these small business owners from seeking consulting services. Furthermore, these small business owners may be wary about using such services simply due to unfamiliarity with the process. Allowing them to become familiar with the collaborative problem-solving processes used in mastermind groups can work to create an open mind about reaching out for consulting. 

Other concerns small business owners may have with consulting services include a lack of understanding and the perceived value of implementing consulting services. Small business owners may be unfamiliar with the available consulting resources specializing in tackling challenges that small businesses face. Even small business owners who are aware of these services, may not recognize the value of consulting services and think they can solve all problems on their own. Introduction to a mastermind group can help to break down these preconceived notions that all problems must be solved within the company and help them recognize how collaborative consulting can truly revolutionize their business. 

How do mastermind groups function? 

In determining whether facilitating a mastermind group will be a positive addition to one's current small business consulting initiatives, it’s crucial to understand what exactly mastermind groups are. Mastermind groups comprise a group of peers collaborating to provide support to one another through shared experiences. For the purpose of building a mastermind group comprised of potential clients, a mastermind group can include strictly small business owners. During regular meetings, each group member can discuss recent challenges or problems they are struggling with and receive guidance from other group members who have faced or are facing similar challenges. 

As a facilitator, advice can also be provided, however, this also presents an opportunity for offering more in-depth consulting services. Group members who are struggling, for example, with how to improve their company’s credit rating, may need more individualized recommendations to properly resolve this issue. Being a facilitator of these mastermind groups allows knowledge about which small business owner is struggling with this problem and may need more specialized help from a small business consultant. Facilitating these mastermind groups gives direct access to potential clients and current challenges they are struggling with. 

How does the creation of mastermind groups work? 

Acquiring small business owners to join a mastermind group without experience facilitating such groups can be a daunting task. This is where utilizing the help from companies with existing mastermind groups is beneficial. Some companies currently specialize in leading mastermind groups and have processes developed to acquire members of mastermind groups and resources on how to structure these meetings. Ambition in Motion (AIM) currently leads many mastermind groups and has recently launched services catered specifically to small business consultants interested in facilitating their own mastermind group. 

Investing in a license to utilize AIM’s executive mastermind groups, not only provides access to a network of potential new clients, it builds trust and meaningful relationships with small business owners. After licensing AIM’s mastermind group, the business development team will conduct client outreach through LinkedIn and other channels to build a mastermind group consisting of small business owners who are excited about this new opportunity. After the initial outreach, communication with potential mastermind group members will be handled directly and connections with these small business owners will begin to develop. 

Why is licensing AIM Mastermind Groups unique?

Licensing AIM’s Mastermind Group provides many benefits, primarily through the initial establishment of the groups. As mentioned previously, AIM will work directly on the mastermind group member reach out. It can be overwhelming to determine where to start with outreach efforts, so assistance from AIM’s business development team helps to guide these initial steps and set the mastermind group up for success. Additionally, AIM’s small business roots can provide a connection with these small business owners who may trust other small businesses but shy away from the word ‘consultants’. 

In addition to mastermind group member acquisition and the small business connection that AIM provides, overall more affordable licensing packages are a significant benefit of utilizing these services. Oftentimes, small businesses don’t have large budgets that can be used for mastermind groups or consulting services. A more affordable option will attract small business owners who were turned off in the past from such services due to their higher costs. Not only is the pricing attractive to small business owners, but the licensing fee for anyone interested in starting their own mastermind group is cost-effective. 

As a consultant, it can be difficult to obtain small business clients due to their resistance to change and outside help. Through licensing mastermind groups, consultants will gain access to various small business owners seeking to solve business problems while also building relationships with these owners. With this unique mastermind group connection, small business consultants can gain insights about current problems small business owners are facing and transition group members who need additional consulting expertise into clients. 


Fri 17 May 2024
Relocating for career growth is a decision that dramatically impacts both professional and personal life. The prospect of moving to a new country with the promise of career advancement, exposure to different cultures, and personal growth may present numerous benefits. In some cases, upper level management may even present relocation as a fast track to advancing towards more long term goals due to the increased knowledge gained from working at different company branches. Despite these exciting opportunities, there are certainly challenges that must be taken into account before taking this huge step. 

Pros of Career Relocation 

  1. Accelerated Career Advancement 
When propositioned with a job relocation, management may indicate that this new opportunity may accelerate career advancement within the company. Regardless of whether it is explicitly stated by management, relocating often leads to more rapid advancement due to the breadth of knowledge acquired when working at a different branch. Being exposed to business operations at different branches allows for increased perspective of how the company operates internationally. Relocating also demonstrates immense flexibility and adaptability which are important traits for management positions. 

Willingness to relocate can allow for accelerated career progression due to the expanded professional network obtained by working for other branches. When moving to a new location, there is a new set of management and team members to work with. The opportunity to meet new people can allow for both professional and personal growth as they can share their perspectives and experiences. 

2. Personal Growth 

Living and working in a foreign country provides many opportunities for personal growth. Entering this new environment can lead to a lot of self reflection and opportunities for self fulfillment. Being immersed in an entirely new culture also helps to develop greater empathy and enhanced communication skills. Learning how to adapt to different customs and ways of life within this new culture can provide new perspectives and understanding of personal preferences. Not only do these new experiences provide personal growth, but they can also allow for personal development that is transferable to managing and working in team settings.

3. Competitive Edge 

Exposure to working internationally is an incredibly valuable experience that can be leveraged within the job market. Employers often seek individuals who have international experience and have an understanding of diverse cultures. International experience indicates to employers that an employee is adaptable and resilient which is advantageous over other candidates. In particular, globalized companies will often favor candidates with international experience as these individuals will have increased understanding of the different facets that come with international branches. 

Cons of Career Relocation 

  1. Culture Adaptation 
While the introduction to a new culture may be an enriching experience, there are many struggles that come along with adapting to a new culture. Language barriers present many challenges when it comes to living and working in a new country. Regardless of whether the country has the same language, different vocabulary or common phrases can be difficult to adjust to. Considerable time may need to be spent learning the local language, which is important to consider when determining whether to relocate. 

Adapting to the local culture also includes fostering new relationships with coworkers and making new friends. Since there are cultural differences, it can be difficult to build these relationships. Getting involved in the community and with groups at work are to ways to develop strong relationships within a new home. It isn’t always easy to build meaningful relationships, so it can take more time and effort during already busy times. 

2. Family considerations 
For many people considering job relocation, family is a large consideration. While moving to a new country may be the best step for ones personal career, spouses or partners may struggle to find a job in the new location. Making the decision together and discussing potential drawbacks for their career is incredibly important. Similarly, uprooting children can be a difficult feat as they can have strong connections with friends and family that make them reluctant to leave. Since they may not fully understand the motivations for moving to another country, including them in the conversation can help them feel recognized and more onboard with the big decision. 

Another consideration that may be applicable is the timeline of the relocation and how that may effect the family dynamic. If the relocation is short term, an option may be that the family stays at home for the short duration of the relocation. This option presents emotional difficulties that can come from extended periods of time without seeing loved ones, but it is important to exhuast all potential options. 

3. Financial Considerations 
Financial aspects such as cost of living and relocation compensation packages are important when determining whether relocating is a feasible option. The cost of living varies in each country, so determining how far the new salary will go to cover personal expenses can help the decision making process. Additionally, negotiating with management to determine resonable compensation for the move should take into consideration a potentially higher cost of living as well as expenses associated with the move such as shipping costs. 

Another important financial consideration is determining to rent or sell current accommodations. If moving abroad is a short term venture, then it may be resonable to rent out current property. However, it may not be feasible to maintain one property in the home country while also paying for accommodations in another country. Considering different options and looking into personal finances will help to navigate this decision. 


While there are many benefits and challenges that go along with relocating abroad, there are many other factors to consider when making this decision such as the timeline for this relocation, company support, documentation and personal preferences. 

The timeline is important to consider as a short term or long term time abroad may be more appealing. If the company doesn’t present potential repatriation in the near future, it may be important to reflect on whether permanent relocation is an option that satisfies personal long term goals. 

When discussing the time period of the relocation, companies should also include appropriate support and relocation assistance. Some companies offer assistance finding temporary housing, shipping belongings, and even help enrolling children in schools. Especially in countries with drastically different cultures, training to become more acclimated to the new culture and language can be incredibly useful resources provided by the company. 

Another logistical challenge when moving abroad that the company may provide assistance for is receiving correct documentation. Depending on the duration of this relocation, a work visa or more extensive documentation will be required to live and work abroad. Having proper resources within the company to help obtain these documents can tremendously ease the relocation process and are important aspects to discuss with management when making a decision. 

Regardless of all the different factors to consider surrounding relocation, reflecting on personal preferences is a pivotal component. Some people are content staying in their home environment while others thrive when exposed to change. Reflecting on what will personally provide a more satisfying living and working environment can truly make or break the decision to relocate. 


Mon 29 April 2024
Cross-cultural teams provide immense benefits to organizations such as enhanced problem-solving skills and diversity of perspectives from the culmination of various backgrounds. Although these benefits can contribute to an organization's success, difficulties can arise for managers tasked with leading these cross-cultural teams. Scheduling conflicts and communication barriers can create points of conflict for managers. Additionally, less apparent issues such as cultural norms and creating a unified team environment can be detrimental to the success of a cross-cultural team. Increased awareness about cultures can work to prevent potential tensions from arising within the workplace. 

Cross-cultural teams may be comprised of individuals working remotely from different countries or expatriates. Regardless of the composition of the physical locations of group members, cultural differences can present tensions in the team environment and communication methods because individuals from different cultures may have drastically different approaches to tasks in the workplace. Various strategies can be implemented by managers to develop cultural understanding, enhance communication, and develop team norms ultimately improving the team's performance. 

Understanding Cultural Differences 
Learning about differences between cultures present on the team can develop increased awareness about why team members may do or interpret things differently. A helpful resource to understand more about different cultures is Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory. Hofstede’s theory explores six key aspects of cultures: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity-femininity, and short vs. long-term orientation. Comparison between cultures using these cultural dimensions can work to explain variances in workplace behavior. For example, team members from cultures with higher power distance increasingly value hierarchy and are more likely to rely heavily on those with positions of power for explicit direction. This may present an issue for teams that depend on quick decision-making processes and independent work. Being conscious of these potentially ingrained cultural differences can guide managers to communicate more about proper procedures and create a more inclusive workplace environment. 

For team members recently relocated to a new country, there may be some distinct cultural differences they are not accustomed to within their new home. Developing proper mechanisms for expatriate training is incredibly important for easing this transition for newly relocated team members. While many companies have established systems for assisting relocated employees to adapt to the new location, as a manager, it is important to develop an inclusive and comprehensive introduction to the new space they are working in. Aiding a seamless transition to the new working environment can include more one-on-one conversations to learn more about the recently relocated team member and discuss any potential concerns they have adjusting to the new environment.

Effective communication 
Communication barriers are another important consideration when working with a cross-cultural team. For team members who aren’t working in their native language, aspects such as tone and sentence structure may vary considerably. These differences in communication and understanding present many points of misunderstanding between workers. Strategies to prevent misinterpretation consist of utilizing clear and concise messages. This way there are fewer opportunities for potential misunderstandings. Another strategy to emphasize amongst team members is to encourage clarification. If a team member does not entirely understand something, asking further questions can prevent issues later. Working to develop an environment that promotes questions and clear communication will benefit the entire team. 

Another important facet of communication that can vary across cultures is “taught behaviors”. Within different cultures, there are different cultural norms of communication. For instance, American team members may be abrupt over chat function and directly start conversations with a question or request, while Indian team members tend to practice more indirect communication and may include a greeting and more pleasantries before requesting something. Although a seemingly insignificant difference in communication, this can cause frustration for American team members who prefer more immediate communication and conversely cause frustration for Indian team members who interpret the abrupt communication as rude. Working to discuss appropriate communication practices can help to relieve unnecessary issues arising from these “taught behaviors”. 

Establish Team Norms 
With team members coming from various places, establishing team norms increases progress timeliness. Technology developments help to mitigate time-zone-related issues as there is increased communication and immediacy. 24/7 accessible applications such as SharePoint and live documentation features help to allow for consistent communication among all team members. While some team members are off the clock, team members from different time zones can update the live documents and have a record for team members who aren’t currently working. This allows for greater communication and consistency between team members working during different times.  

Another potential issue solved through team norms is establishing a sense of team unity. When managing a team from various cultures, team members may develop an “us vs. them” mentality between different regions when mistakes are made. For teams that have little periods of overlap due to time differences, it can be difficult to foster collaboration and create a sense of division. When an error occurs, for instance during the Australian Central Standard shift, British team members may get frustrated with Australian team members causing increased tensions. Although there is a considerable time difference between these two teams' standard working hours, utilizing some of the overlapping time for weekly or monthly team meetings can unify the team and create a greater sense of appreciation for team members working during the other shifts. Overall, managers need to work to break cultural divides and help build a strong team environment.  

Implementing strategies directly focused on creating seamless interactions between team members of various cultures can be achieved through conscious efforts from all team members. As a manager, introducing measures to develop cultural understanding, effective communication methods, and team norms are important steps for preventing tensions arising from cultural differences is incredibly important. 


Mon 25 March 2024
Jane is a middle manager who finds herself at a pivotal point in her company's future. Her company has been exploring new initiatives that would entirely pivot from their current business focus. Although there is immense excitement between management about this potential new direction, Jane recognizes that navigating the balance of honoring the legacy business that her current team is a part of while also embracing the future innovation is a precarious task. 

With her team's focus on the legacy business, Jane must continue to keep her team engaged, excited, and informed about the potential shift without discouraging her team and slowing progress. The following strategies can be implemented to ensure high morale, sustain engagement, and effective communication during this transition. 


Communicating Effectively 

Navigating proper communication methods during these transformative periods is an incredibly difficult task. With a gap of knowledge between management and team members regarding the shifting landscape, determining what information to share and when can prove challenging. Work closely with upper level management to determine when information will be available to non-management staff. Once information can be shared, have an open conversation with the team to ensure transparency. Detail what the new initiative is and why the company believes this is the most advantageous avenue to pursue going forward. Emphasize that there are still unknowns in the evolving environment and that they will be informed as the situation continues to develop. 


Communicating effectively may also manifest through facilitation of feedback. Establish channels for team members to provide feedback regarding the transition. This can be achieved through allowing one on one conversations, anonymous surveys, or even team wide discussion. Implementing methods for team members to voice their questions and concerns will make them feel validated and heard during these uncertain times. Feedback is also an essential mechanism for company wide improvement. Gaining additional insights from current staff will steer the company to be more united as it moves towards this new direction. 


Ensuring High Morale 

Amidst the uncertain environment, it is imperative to ensure enthusiasm within the legacy team. As a middle manager, recognizing and appreciating team members can make a large impact on maintaining morale. Whether the achievement is big or small, celebrating the successes of team members can help the team gain a sense of importance and confidence. Take note of these accomplishments as it may be reassuring for team members to have a record of their achievements. 


Maintaining a high morale may also be achieved through allowing increased autonomy. A sense of responsibility and pride can arise from team members gaining more flexibility in the decision making process. Delegating some authority will increase innovative thinking and foster a culture of trust. Additionally, this can set team members up for success by allowing them to gain additional skills. These leadership skills can be applicable in the event that the scope of team members work shifts after the company further embraces the new direction. Increased responsibility for team members will produce further team buy in as they are truly more involved in the team. 


Sustaining Engagement 

While shifting towards the future, it’s important to recognize the significance of the legacy teams and their expertise. Managers should emphasize the impact the legacy teams have had on the organizations success. The company would not have reached its current level of success without the hard-work and dedication of each team member. Acknowledge the teams contributions to generate a sense of pride and reaffirm their role in the organization’s achievements. Continuing to recognize the importance of the legacy team will sustain engagement as it will support the notion that the team is truly making a lasting impact on the organization. 


Providing additional learning opportunities also sustains engagement. With this transitional period, team members may be concerned about the future of their role in the company. Adding methods for team members to improve upon current skills or develop new skills, can ensure preparedness for the evolving needs of the company. Although the current team function may remain after the pivot to this new direction, it is imperative to set team members up for success for potential new opportunities. Training workshops, online course, or mentorship programs can assist team members in developing new skills and adapt to the changing environment environment. Exploring cross-functional opportunities with the new business function may be a positive collaboration. This introduction to the team involved with the new business idea may allow for innovation and increased learning opportunities that will benefit both groups. 


Navigating the transition from legacy systems to future business ideas presents various challenges and opportunities for middle management. Through utilizing transparent communication practices, sustaining team morale, and fostering high engagement, managers can successfully lead their team through this transition. Although there are still many uncertainties for her to face, Jane has all the skills and leadership capabilities to ensure her team is productive and supported as her company takes on a new journey.