Index

TGG RANKED IN TOP THREE: 2022 BEST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR IN OREGON

We are excited to share that for the eighth year in a row, The Gunter Group has been ranked as one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon’ according to Oregon Business

The Gunter Group was recognized as the #3 Best Company to Work For in Oregon, in the medium-sized businesses category!

According to Oregon Business one TGGer stated, “This is the kind of company that I always wanted to work for, but didn’t think could actually exist. I feel cared for, appreciated, and there’s always support from every co-worker when it’s needed.”  

We are honored to be recognized on Oregon Business Magazine’s 100 Best Companies list again this year. 

Congratulations to our amazing team!

Be sure to visit guntergroup.com and discover what makes The Gunter Group so unique.

To learn more about the 2022 100 Best List, view the 2022 top ten video, and see the complete rankings visit: oregonbusiness.com

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon is an annual showcase that recognizes top Small, Medium, and Large businesses in the state. More than 9,000 employees across a wide range of industries complete an employee engagement survey that encompasses areas such as: management & communications, decision-making & trust, career development & learning, benefits & compensation, and work environment. 

TGG RANKED AS A BEST SMALL FIRM TO WORK FOR IN THE NATION BY CONSULTING MAGAZINE

For the third year in a row The Gunter Group has been recognized as a “Best Small Firm to Work For” in the nation according to Consulting Magazine.  

It is an honor to share that The Gunter group was selected as the #6 “Best Small Firm to Work For” in the nation for the 2021 rankings and finished in the top 10 for the third consecutive year.

When asked about this year’s recognition TGG Founders Mike and Ashleigh Gunter commented, “We are so proud to be recognized again as a Top 10 Consulting Magazine Best Small Firm to Work For nationally, alongside so many other great firms. It is an important recognition for us because we believe it reflects the culture we have worked so hard to build, and our amazing team. What a great way to celebrate our 10th Anniversary!”

The Consulting Magazine rankings were announced on September 9th, 2021 at a dinner gala in Chicago. Only 18 small firms were chosen for recognition, based on an annual survey of over 12,000 consultants from approximately 300 firms nationwide. Award candidates were evaluated across six different categories of employee satisfaction including, client engagement, culture, firm leadership, career development, and compensation and benefits.

To learn more about the 2021 Consulting Magazine Awards and see the complete rankings visit: https://www.event.consultingmag.com/best-firms-to-work-for

The Gunter Group is a management consulting firm headquartered in Oregon, serving the west coast with offices in Portland and Reno, Nevada. Learn more about us and the services we offer here.

TGG RANKED IN TOP THREE FOR BEST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR IN OREGON

We recently learned that for the seventh consecutive year, The Gunter Group has been ranked as one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon’ according to Oregon Business. 

We are excited to share that The Gunter Group was recognized as the #3 Best Company to Work For in Oregon, in the medium-sized businesses category!

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon is an annual showcase that recognizes top Small, Medium, and Large businesses in the state. More than 10,000 employees across a wide range of industries complete an employee engagement survey that encompasses areas such as: management & communications, decision-making & trust, career development & learning, benefits & compensation, and work environment. 

To learn more about the 2021 100 Best List and to see the complete rankings visit: oregonbusiness.com

OUR NON-NEGOTIABLES:
A LOOK BACK

A year and a half ago, we introduced a blog series on our company’s Non-Negotiables. At TGG, our Non-Negotiables are six traits and characteristics that guide us in our everyday interactions with each other, our clients, and our communities. They are the pillars on which we have built, and will continue to build, the company. 

The Non-Negotiables came about in a particularly organic way. We did not sit down in a “strategy session” to “identify our Non-Negotiables”. They came about naturally as we thought about the values that are important to us, how we wished to create, cultivate and maintain relationships, our culture, and most importantly….the traits and characteristics we saw really successful TGGers demonstrating. The Non-Negotiables became an articulation of how we were already living. 

Our Non-Negotiables are reflected not only in our day to day interactions, but in our recruiting, our professional development, and our feedback process. They are our framework for holding ourselves accountable in our work and relationships, and it is our greatest point of pride that our team consistently reflects them.

Our six Non-Negotiables are:

  1. 1. Collaborative
  2. 2. Integrity
  3. 3. Intellectual Curiosity
  4. 4. Thrives in Ambiguity
  5. 5. Emotional Intelligence
  6. 6. Grounded Confidence

When we began this blog series, we asked different members of our team to write each of the six blogs, and we are really proud of how they turned out. The authors reflect a group of individuals with different backgrounds, varying years of experience (and time with the company), diverse perspectives, and different working styles. We also sat down and filmed the historical context of our Non-Negotiables and how they guide our focus as we grow our firm. 

Little did we know that half way through this blog series, we would find ourselves in the middle of not only a global pandemic, but also significant societal upheaval in the ongoing fight for equity, inclusion and racial justice. 

We knew how our Non-Negotiables guided us in “normal” times, but how would they hold up in such uncertain and stressful times? 

The answer is that we have relied upon them even more heavily. We focused on taking care of and supporting each other (Integrity, Emotional Intelligence).  We engaged even more deeply, and in many cases with more flexibility and an even stronger sense of service, with our clients (Thrives in Ambiguity, Intellectual Curiosity, Collaborative, Grounded Confidence). We also revamped our recruiting and evaluation processes to further embed these characteristics and traits (all six).  

We believe the increased level of depth and focus on our Non-Negotiables has been motivating and rewarding for our entire organization. It has also furthered our commitment to putting people and culture first in times of prosperity and uncertainty alike.

Our Non-Negotiables continue to be the most accurate representation we have of our company’s culture. They reflect who we are and who we will continue striving to be as we build our team and company.

We hope you have enjoyed this blog series as much as we have enjoyed sharing it. We encourage leaders and teams to think critically about the aspirational and lived culture you desire for your organization and orient everything around bringing it to life.   


About the Author:
Mike is passionate about client service and leading people. He enjoys watching people grow, develop, and discover their true path. Mike is a visionary and forward thinker with extensive multinational experience and a proven track record of serving clients. With more than 25 years of business leadership and consulting in a wide variety of challenging and ambiguous environments, Mike got his start in the industry at Deloitte Consulting and has since held executive leadership positions in consulting, supply chain services, and public education organizations.

HOW A FIRST DAY SHAPED A CAREER

I showed up nervous on my first day at The Gunter Group

That morning, my manager and I went for a walk along the Willamette River. After some getting-to-know-you chatter, I turned the conversation to the job: “What do you think my first 30 days should look like?” 

My manager, Matt Bader, considered my question for several more steps. He answered, “All I want you to do is learn. Treat every experience as a teachable moment. Just worry about that, and the rest will come.” 

All the growing I’ve done at The Gunter Group has flourished in the garden of that conversation. Every experience has been a learning experience. I’ve had the opportunity to create internal development tools, write copy, build surveys, facilitate engagement sessions, spin up a center of excellence, and support an enterprise ERP implementation. All of these experiences have been new in some way, and all have been opportunities to learn lessons that make me better at my job. 

My time as a consultant has confirmed this one truth: the only thing guaranteed in every experience is the opportunity to learn. 

I’ll pause to make an important distinction: the act of learning is different from the opportunity for learning. In 2020, TGG consultant Stephen Bacon led a series of coffee chats about change management responses in the time of COVID-19. Stephen’s most important message to professionals in the pandemic: There is no guarantee that we will learn from this. We have to be intentional. Learning is not guaranteed, but opportunity is. 

This message is timely: the pandemic introduced most of us to a new reality. We are now familiar with remote work, the shrinking pool of small businesses, chart-topping unemployment, constricting budgets, and lifelines of federal aid. The one guarantee among all these earth-shattering elements is an avalanche of learning opportunities. 

This raises the question: how do you take advantage of these learning opportunities? Here are a few pointers I find helpful: 

Foster the Right Mindset: New experiences can be hijacked by negative emotional responses. It can be easy for learning to get lost in the fog of fear, anxiety, exhaustion, rebellion, flight, etc. At TGG, “Thrives in Ambiguity” is one of the non-negotiable characteristics we look for in team members, and it is our target response in adversity. But it can require a mindset shift to see a new, ambiguous experience as an opportunity to thrive. A good approach: reframe your natural fear response by saying “this is an opportunity” every time a new challenge pops up.

Remove Obstacles: The book Atomic Habits by James Clear suggests that the first thing you can do to break a bad habit is to raise awareness of triggers and reduce your exposure to them. If fear is one of your responses to a new challenge, try to understand where that fear is coming from, and respond accordingly. Narrow your focus to the present by writing down what you can do today, and ignore everything else. This builds valuable and purposeful momentum.

Pay Attention: Do you journal? Because you should journal. The most common objection to journaling is the time commitment, a problem that is easily solved. Start small: every day before closing your computer, write one sentence about something you learned that day. Really, that’s all it takes. Months later, when you can look over 100 different things you learned, you’ll be grateful for the 10 seconds of effort you put into it each day. 

Be Honest: It’s easy to make mistakes, but even easier to make excuses. “It wasn’t my fault, I just ran out of time,” or “We couldn’t have predicted the curveballs we had to face.” The more you make excuses for mistakes, the harder it is to learn from them. Radical honesty can help. When something goes wrong, it’s actually better for your career if you own up to the mistake and learn from it. Otherwise, all you learn is the skill of shifting blame away from yourself at all costs. 

Take Risks: Access to more opportunities means access to more learning. Volunteer for that internal project, raise your hand to own that action item, throw your hat in the ring for that new job. Expose yourself to new challenges, new colleagues, new activities; this will not only expand your skill set, but also your appetite for growth. 

Like most other habits, learning is not a talent: it’s a skill. A skill you can cultivate, and with a little time and patience you’ll start to reap the benefits. 

A great place to start is by reading some other articles on our TGG blog! Here are three of my favorites: 

COMMUNITY CONNECTION:
5 SUCCESS PILLARS FOR NEW CONSULTANTS

Last week, a panel of seasoned consultants from The Gunter Group were invited to provide their insights into the field of consulting to members of The Oregon Consulting Group at The University of Oregon. 

The Oregon Consulting Group was founded in 2014 through The University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business with the mission to help students gain valuable real world experience, while solving tangible problems for companies and non-profit organizations. The Oregon Consulting Group consists of 35 students, across 20 academic disciplines who complete 18 projects every year. 

During the event, The Gunter Group team had the opportunity to analyze and advise on 3 consulting projects focused on a diverse range of topics including: 

Conducting an impact analysis for a regional post-pandemic economic recovery plan.

Developing a digital learning solution in order to to improve the effectiveness of telemedicine.

Creating a mindfulness-centered mental health curriculum for middle-school students.

Additionally, to assist The Oregon Consulting Group members as they embark on their careers in the consulting industry, The Gunter Group team shared 5 success pillars for new consultants:

1. Curiosity – With every client engagement develop a curiosity for what clients do and what they need to reach their potential. Consultants have a valuable opportunity to be fresh eyes on a situation or problem, and doing so with genuine curiosity lays the groundwork for authentic engagements focused on client success.

2. Creativity – When working to solve client problems, one size does not “fit all.” Different problems require different tools. Utilize different vantage points and perspectives when diagnosing problems and identifying solutions. Investigate with ingenuity in order to further develop a creative mindset.

3. Flexibility – Be agile. Avoid falling into the trap of being locked into one approach for the situation at hand. Consultants should be prepared to morph and adapt to the client’s needs. This flexible mindset maintains the overall mission of “providing tangible value” to the client and maximizing results.

4. Growth – In the absence of professional experience early in their career, consultants should be resourceful in ways they can provide tangible value to their team and firm at large. It’s important to “know what you don’t know” and as a result, seek out opportunities to foster new skills and knowledge.

5. Communication – Be a diligent listener to teammates and clients. Focus intently on the words people use and commit to being fully present. When presented with an opportunity to share, be succinct and purposeful with commentary.

At the conclusion of the event, TGG Senior Consultant, Stephen Bacon shared the following:

“The chance to give back to a group of aspiring consultants was a privilege for our entire team. Hearing students’ fresh perspectives on client problems was a learning opportunity for all of us and we can’t wait to see what these student leaders accomplish in their careers ahead.”

Our consultants are grateful for the opportunity to share our experience and expertise with the bright and talented members of The Oregon Consulting Group. We wish the students success in all their academic and professional pursuits!

TGG RECEIVES PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL AWARDS

We’re excited to share that The Gunter Group received recognition as one of the Largest Women-Owned Businesses in Oregon & SW Washington by the Portland Business Journal.

Managing Partner, Ashleigh Gunter, remarked that “it is an honor” to have been recognized and expressed that “we are proud to be a company where strong female leadership is valued and respected.” 

“We have built a firm where all of our employees feel engaged and that is one of my proudest achievements”, reflected Ashleigh. 

In addition, The Gunter Group, which represents one of the Largest Consulting Firms in the Portland Metropolitan area, was also the recipient of a Corporate Philanthropy Award by Portland Business Journal for contributions to Oregon & SW Washington nonprofits.

The award candidates’ philanthropic impact was evaluated based on the cash and in-kind donations made in 2019, as well as employee volunteer or pro bono hours contributed to support local non-profit organizations. 

“Supporting nonprofits is something very close to the heart of Ashleigh Gunter [Managing Partner] and we will continue to make it a top priority for our team” explains Mike Gunter, Founding Partner of The Gunter Group.

The Gunter Group is a management consulting firm headquartered in Oregon, serving the west coast with offices in Portland and Bend, Oregon, and Reno, Nevada. Learn more about us and the services we offer here.

PRESSING PLAY ON PAUSED PROJECTS IN THE COVID-19 ERA

Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, the way we live, and the way we interact with the world. To cope with these widespread changes, organizations have had to make tough choices and “hit the pause button”, delaying projects and strategic initiatives. 

We are now seeing enterprises reinstating their paused projects and initiatives, but in a changed world where challenges such as limited and/or remote staff, constrained budgets, and emerging competing priorities need to be factored into the mix. Organizations need to relaunch project work in a strategic way that accounts for today’s ever-changing business climate as well as the increased pressure employees are facing while navigating the complex COVID era. 

Before deciding to restart a project, consider the following questions: 

1. Are there environmental, emotional, or other considerations that should be taken into account before kicking off this project again?
2. Is the project still relevant and does it represent a productive use of time?
3. Staffing levels may have been impacted. Team members may be overwhelmed with competing priorities. Does the organization have adequate staffing and resourcing for this project or is there a need to secure outside assistance to support internal staff? 
4. Does this project provide clear benefits regardless of possible uncertainty in the future?
5. Are there risks and costs to the organization by further delaying the project? 

Strategies for moving forward

Applying a comprehensive strategic framework to think through the complex logistical, financial, and human components of the project can help an organization ensure multiple angles have been considered before moving forward with stalled projects. 

The steps outlined here are relevant for any project initiation, but it’s particularly crucial now to make sure that the organization is fully prepared to launch an initiative in a thoughtful and informed way. 


Evaluate and Revise Strategy: As our global situation evolves, public health policies enacted to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 will impact the availability of resources and timing of many projects. 

Additionally, it is important to re-evaluate the big questions—those considerations that are less tactical and for which planning is more difficult. How does this project align with the organization’s core values, and are those values changing in response to the impacts of COVID-19?

Lastly, there may be tactical components of the original project strategy that may not be conducive to a COVID-19 environment. For example, brainstorm sessions, project meetings, and testing will likely take place remotely. Timeline and toolset considerations may also need to be adjusted. 

Align Stakeholders: Even in the best of times, projects often begin prematurely, before stakeholder alignment is adequately reached. Now more than ever, it is imperative for the success of any reinstated work that stakeholders are informed, aligned, and have a renewed commitment to contribute towards the successful culmination of the project. As appropriate, leaders should seek to foster stakeholder participation and feedback in the prioritization process to align on the purpose of the project and to provide consistent messaging to employees and consumers. Commence replanning efforts by conducting a stakeholder analysis and integrating the findings. Overlooking this vital step could result in major roadblocks and setbacks throughout the remaining life of the project. 

Resource Project: The resources originally allocated for the project may now be unavailable, team members may lack required skill sets, or they may not currently have the bandwidth to contribute to another project. Therefore, the need for both external and internal support should be properly assessed. 

Recently, McKinsey & Company emphasized the need for leaders to focus on reskilling and upskilling their workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era. Companies also face a learning curve as managers figure out how to lead their teams virtually, build social capital, and maintain cohesion without the benefit of in-person interactions. As companies contemplate returning to the workplace, a new set of skills is also likely to emerge for the transition.

Sometimes a major reskilling effort isn’t feasible or practical to fill key needs for a project. In this scenario, pulling in outside expertise or resources may be the best option. Consultants are often brought into the fold of a project to fill an experience, knowledge, or skill set gap or even as an extra set of hands for a daunting effort where the organization’s future hiring picture is unclear. 

Build Execution Roadmap: As things continue to change, a well developed and clearly communicated execution roadmap will help keep the project team’s eye on the prize. The steps taken so far in restarting the project—updated strategy, aligned and informed stakeholders, and prepared project resources—are the building blocks of an execution roadmap. Identify where it is possible to include flexibility points in an execution strategy. Planning for potential changes to “Plan A” will allow for an easier path forward if additional unexpected changes occur in the life of the project. 

Employ Agile Execution Model: There’s no better time than now to embrace an agile methodology. By definition, the agile project management methodology is designed to be collaborative, flexible, and adaptable to change, and the change introduced to organizations by COVID-19 has put it to the ultimate test. Research conducted by McKinsey & Company found that companies with agile practices embedded in their operating models have managed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis better than their non-agile counterparts. 


Communicate and Engage the Org: Effective communication and engagement can be challenging, especially given the challenges of physical distance, work-life balance, physical distance, and a multitude of other distractions. Project details must be communicated to the right people at the right time.

Many organizations are also at the point where employees are hitting conference call and email fatigue. Since the majority of our communications are now limited to back-to-back video calls or an ever-expanding email inbox, communications are at greater risk of being lost in the shuffle. 

Fortunately, there are many tools and resources available to help streamline communications in 2020, some of which may already be familiar and some lesser known:

– Facilitation tools (MURAL, retrium, MS Teams, klaxon, miro, STORMZ)
– Communication tools (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts)
– Presentations & Meetings (Ideaboardz, Conceptboard, workplace, slack, Google Meet)
– Project Management (Smartsheet, Microsoft Planner, Teamwork, Confluence, Jira, Basecamp, Trello, asana, N)
– Team Building (Kahoot!, TEAM MOOD, Dr. Clue, donut)
– Events (Meetyoo, HEXAFAIR, ENGAGE, VIRTUALIST

Build Rapid Feedback Mechanisms: Integrating feedback loops, both internal and external, into the project’s workflow, such as cadences in the Kanban method, for example, offer a powerful communication tool that fosters efficient and continuous improvement through effective adaptation to the often evolving needs of one’s client. It is valuable to build a mechanism, such as frequent, effective meetings, to facilitate constant and constructive evaluation as a team.

Moving forward with grace

With all the tactical and strategic planning that is needed to evolve an organization or advance a project forward, it is important not to lose sight of the human element. The planning process should be imbued with emotional intelligence, described as the ability to appropriately apply emotion to manage and solve problems—an approach with many tangible and far-reaching benefits within any organization. 

In many different ways, it has been a challenging year and people are facing internal and external hurdles that could not have been predicted a year ago. Contributing to a project is a wonderful growth opportunity, gives people a chance to connect with their teammates towards a common goal, and produces tangible results. However, it is more important than ever for leaders to show that they care about their team.

Deeply considering the outcome of new or restarted work on employees and consumers has never been more important. Prioritizing the work ahead should consider not only the immediate benefit to the organization itself but also the benefits of doing right by the people of the organization in the long term. 

At The Gunter Group, we can help implement the project leadership and process improvement strategies discussed above. Contact us to learn more about how we can support and optimize your organization.


About the Author:
Kara is a collaborative and detail-oriented consultant specializing in project management, organizational change and strategic communications. She has an ability to jump quickly into complex situations and scenarios, which allows her to understand and deliver on her clients’ key priorities within tight deadlines. Kara is also very skilled at considering issues with a fresh perspective, allowing her to suggest and implement viable solutions that may not have been previously considered by an organization. With a diverse background in communications, marketing analytics, team leadership and project management, Kara has enjoyed bringing strategic solutions to her clients for over 10 years. She has worked in a wide range of industries for many nationally-recognized brands, primarily in the technology, healthcare, sportswear, and early childhood education sectors. Kara holds a B.S in Business Administration and Marketing from Central Washington University. She is also a Certified Scrum Master and PROSCI Certified Change Practitioner. In her free time, Kara enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with her family of four.

TGG RANKED AS #5 BEST SMALL FIRM TO WORK FOR IN THE NATION BY CONSULTING MAGAZINE

We are excited to announce that The Gunter Group was recognized as Consulting Magazine’s #5 “Best Small Firm to Work For” in the nation. 

The rankings were based on an annual survey of over 12,000 consultants, representing approximately 300 firms nationwide, ultimately selecting only 20 small firms to be recognized. Award candidates were evaluated across six different categories of employee satisfaction including, client engagement, firm culture, firm leadership, career development, work/life balance, along with compensation and benefits.

Senior Consultant, Jim Calko, acknowledges that “it’s great to be recognized, but in many ways, our team (and clients) have known that this is a pretty special company.” He goes on to say that “from leadership on down, we have genuinely good people who care about each other, care about our clients, and care about doing the right thing.” According to Jim, “this is what drives everything from our culture through delivery.”

As a new member of The Gunter Group (TGG), Yoonjung Lee remarks that the Consulting Magazine award “makes it just that much more exciting to be a part of the company.” She shared that she “has already heard so many great things from team members who say they really enjoy working here, and the external recognition certainly lends credence to their reviews!” 

“This recognition from Consulting Magazine is well deserved for reasons too many to number”, admires Nate Ferguson, a TGG consultant. Nate attributes the firm’s “thoughtfulness and deliberate decision making as key characteristics that directly impact increased client engagement, sustained employee satisfaction, and a thriving culture.” It was these distinctions, he explains, that drew him initially to join the firm earlier this year, and those which he is pleased to see “lived out on a daily basis” at The Gunter Group.

Despite the significant challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nate observes, “Mike [Gunter], Ashleigh [Gunter], and the leadership team’s proactive, pragmatic, and vulnerable approach” has inspired a “positive outlook on the things to come for TGG.”

Learn more about TGG’s ranking in Consulting Magazine.

The Gunter Group is a management consulting firm headquartered in Oregon, serving the west coast with offices in Portland and Bend, Oregon, and Reno, Nevada. Learn more about us and the services we offer here.