The Adept Mindset
The key attributes we value and nurture in our people and bring to our clients
Why We Did It:
‘A business is only ever as good as its people’. While this statement in all of its variations may be overly used, it is true. Adept has known this since its inception in 2010 – our consultants propelled our growth by delivering high quality work and exemplifying high performance at our client sites. Without a doubt, Adept Group’s growth during this early period could be largely attributed to our exceptional network of consultants. Our clients could rely on the fact that when they partnered with Adept Group, they would work with industry leaders. Cognisant of this fact, we were always on the look-out for those rare individuals that displayed a strong ‘consulting mindset’, a phrase we used to encapsulate all of the things that were great about our people. But what exactly was the ‘consulting mindset’ that we relied on so heavily for our success?! Myself and the leadership team had become highly astute at identifying it, and certainly, it was apparent to our clients. Had you asked us to articulate the particular traits associated with it however, you would have had a variety of vague, intangible and highly subjective answers. We probably would have muttered things like, ‘strong engagement skills’ and ‘an ability to find your way around a business’. The fact that we could not describe it in clear terms did not mean that we weren’t making excellent hires based on it – we were in fact doing that very effectively. But when it came to distilling it down for people, we had a problem. And as we grew, our inability to define the ‘consulting mindset’ became increasingly problematic. If you can’t articulate it, how do you teach your hiring managers to interview for it? If you can’t describe its defining behaviours, how do you ask your consultants to do more of it? And if your measurement of it is largely instinctual, how can you be objective? This is how the Adept Mindset was born in 2019 – our desire to define what the ‘consulting mindset’ (what makes our people unique and exceptional) is exactly.
How We Got There:
Through a process of company-wide workshops we sought answers to a wide range of questions – what did our top performers and their peers think made them great? What did our clients respond to? What actions made a tangible difference? And what did our leadership team recognise as being the distinguishable characteristics of our top consultants? The answers to these questions gave us a raft of below the line behaviours, values and feelings that our people demonstrate every day to great effect. Over a period of months, myself and one of our Delivery Managers with a passion for such things, refined, considered and finally honed these down to a set of key ‘attributes’ – 18 of them, categorised into either Head (thinking), Heart (feeling) or Hands (doing) categories. And that is how Adept Mindset was born. It ceased to be the ‘consulting mindset’ when we realised that everybody at Adept was doing this – from business support people through to client-facing consultants. Each attribute relates as much to how we behave internally with each other as it does to how we work with our clients. The 18 attributes, which range from things like Authenticity through to Activating Outcomes and Growth Mindset, have given us a vernacular that is aspirational and positive. With the help of a designer, we have brought each attribute to life with unique iconography and marketing collateral. But in behind this is a comprehensive framework of competencies that enable us to live the mindset. They clearly lay out how we demonstrate the attribute day to day and what good looks like. For example, Bravery, one of our ‘Heart’ attributes, requires the competency of ‘Self-Confidence’. How do our people demonstrate that when they are at work? For us, it means having the confidence to take a less popular stance when you know it will lead to the right outcome for a client. It also means that you are able to state your position confidently and clearly.
Our mindset also includes Empower Others. While Empowering Others is key for consultants working with clients, knowledge sharing internally is equally important, and with a flat structure, it is expected that every member of our team works on the competency of ‘Developing Others’ – that is, believing others want to and can learn and arranging successful experiences for other members of their team to build confidence and gain skills, amongst other things.
Adept Mindset in Action
The Adept Mindset touches on every part of our employee experience; from attracting likeminded people to the business through to L&D and reward programmes. Of course, we have undertaken the easiest part so far. We are still at the beginning of this journey, looking at ways in which we can imbed what we know to be valuable. The more difficult part is figuring out how we develop these skills in our people in a structured, effective manner. But the greatest learning I have had during our roll-out has been that our people, as always, are our greatest source. Our interactive workshops have demonstrated that we already have so many of these skills in-house – our team have engaged in lively discussions about how they have personally worked on these traits over the years and I have come to the realisation that our resource library is already well established. Seeing our team Empowering People in action has been a sight to behold, as they draw on their diverse strengths. I for one look forward to sharing the Adept Mindset with each new person who joins our team. Inevitably, people will decide for a variety of reasons to move on from Adept when the time has come for growth elsewhere. Ultimately, our hope is that the day an employee decides to move on from Adept, they do so with a greater set of skills than when they joined us.