CSUF Students Help Companies Develop Better Leadership Practices

Woman Diligently Working

In the Leadership and Human Resources Student Consulting Program, our goal is to understand the client’s business and then use that understanding along with an objective lens to help address the leadership and HR challenges the client is facing. It is our goal to hear from the client that the student consulting team’s recommendations were on target because the team understood the intricacies and challenges of his business as well as the business owner.

Here is one example of such an engagement. The client organization was a local rep of Herff-Jones, a leading manufacturer of graduation products (class rings, regalia, etc.). The organization had a mobile trailer that served as a pop-up store. It featured sample merchandise and allowed customers to submit and pay for ordered products. The trailer allowed them to go directly to their customers to make the order and delivery process as easy as possible.

The problem was that the mobile trailer team were not doing as well as the client had hoped. While the client sensed that the team was stressed out and confused, the client wasn’t sure why and, more importantly, what to do about it.

That’s where the student consulting team came in. In order to figure out how to solve the problem, the first step was to understand it. Specifically, the team set out to learn what exactly the team was expected to do, the formal policies they had to follow, the backgrounds and motivations of each team member, and the overall culture of the trailer team.

The students spent tens of hours (yes, tens of hours) talking to the mobile trailer team and traveling with them to their various destinations. Being able to form good relationships with the trailer team members helped the consulting team understand the challenges from the trailer team’s point of view.

After gathering data on the organization, the team was able to determine the root causes of the stress and confusion experienced by the trailer team. Now that the root causes were known, the team shifted its focus on devising a host of specific and actionable recommendations to address the problem. Specifically, the consulting team:

  • Summarized the components of a training program that emphasized videos that the mobile trailer team could view without going into the main office.
  • Created an FAQ that would answer the most common customer questions, and allow the trailer team to work on more challenging issues.
  • Wrote job descriptions for each member of the trailer team so it is clear who is responsible for what.
  • Outlined a monthly meeting format that would build morale, communicate information on the products, and allow management to hear the trailer team’s concerns.
  • Recommended an inventory control system that can also be used on tablets, so that the trailer team would have up-to-date information on the status of each customer’s order.

The client was so impressed with the recommendations that some, such as the inventory control system, were implemented mid-way through the consulting engagement. Even though the students only mentioned this recommendation in passing — as part of  a status update — the client was so interested that he asked for more details and began implementing the student team’s recommendation immediately. And the students learned a great deal through the engagement, a true win-win for all.

For more information about our Student-led Business Consulting Program please contact Charlesetta Medina at (657) 278-3464 or cymedina@fullerton.edu and she will be more than happy to answer all of your questions. You can also watch the video below or follow this link to learn more about our program.

This post was authored by Dr. Atul Teckchandani.

Picture Credit: Viktor Hanacek

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