The fourth week of our training program saw us embark on our soft skills training. However after this week I believe it would be more appropriate to rename this week as life skills training. We learnt about ourselves as individuals and tools we would need in the life as a consultant.

The training was delivered by Tim Haslam who we found to be a light hearted and compelling gentleman. During our training he would often enlighten us with some humorous anecdotes from his past. However there was always meaning behind these anecdotes from which we all learnt something.

The first day started with us completing personality questionnaires from which it was able to identify which insight profile we belonged to. Insight personality profiles fall under four categories:

  • Red meant a competitive and strong willed nature.
  • Blue meant individuals were precise and accurate.
  • Yellow meant a sociable and fun personality.
  • Green meant a caring and patient personality.
The results revealed that we are a diverse group with all four profiles having individuals who belonged to them. This will enable us to work better as a team as each individual offers a different perspective. Monday finished with us researching a topic we are passionate about so we could deliver a five minute presentation the following day. The idea behind this was to see how well we could present a topic we are confident with. As consultants we will need to deliver many presentations on a wide range of topics.

On Tuesday the presentations were delivered. We quickly realized the importance of timing a presentation as we found ourselves crossing the five minute mark. This most probably happened because we were all so passionate and enthralled in our topic that time escaped us!

This highlighted the importance of structuring a presentation well so that it is delivered in a timely manner. The actual delivery itself should be passionate and interesting, for there is nothing worse than listening to a boring presentation whilst trying to maintain concentration.

The third day saw us explore our time management skills and what we would do with an ‘extra two magic hours’ per day. The majority of the group identified family and fitness as the desired activity. This was followed up superbly with techniques so that we could achieve our magic two hours of activity.

Time management is dependent on the importance and urgency of a task. A quadrant model exists to identify the priority of tasks. Important tasks left to the last minute pose the highest level of urgency and stress to an individual. This causes a state of emergency and panic, which should be avoided. More time should be dedicated to important tasks with low urgency. This is a planning phase and therefore we will avoid stress and panicking. Tasks which have low importance and urgency can act as distractors cutting into valuable time, these tasks should have less precedence and should be allocated less time. Hopefully by allocating less time to these tasks we can achieve our ‘magic two hours’ of gym!

On Thursday we explored the idea that every problem must have a solution, which is backed, by a ‘compelling need, credible solution and added value.’

By addressing these needs we are able to build concise solutions. The ability to be concise is important in business especially when considering delivering presentations and pitches.
 We practiced delivering an elevator pitch, which is a type of pitch that is intended to be short in duration but deliver maximum impact. We explored the framework that would enable us to achieve this and then presented our pitches. The day finished with us developing interview etiquette. Developing a rapport with the interviewer is important considering there is a short amount of time available. Preparation also plays a key part and we identified basic questions we should ask ourselves before undertaking an interview. As Tim quoted; ‘Failing to plan, is planning to fail.’

Friday gave us the perfect opportunity to practice our training and we undertook a mock interview. I certainly found this an enjoyable experience and appreciated the feedback. Considering the group is diverse in nature we received varying feedback that will help us develop as consultants.

After undertaking our mock interviews we were treated by our trainer Tim and colleague Simon to some light refreshments. This provided an opportunity for the group to debrief and reflect on a challenging but equally enjoyable week.

The week covered a wide range of material from which we learnt a wide range of skills but also something about ourselves. The time management quadrant was the most striking element to me. I have now begun to use this technique in the allocation of my tasks. I even found time to go swimming! We all learnt something that we can now carry forwards and help us through our journey as a consultant.