I thought that title might grab your attention. It is the holy grail of all recruitment team leaders; how can I get my team to be as profitable as possible yet they don’t have burn out because they are working long hours every single day for 48 weeks a year?
As we all know, there are never enough hours in the day to do everything that we want to in recruitment. Something unexpected always comes in when you do not want it to and I am sure that it is the unwritten rule in recruitment that everything always happens on a Friday afternoon! What if you could get back an extra hour a day? How much easier would your Friday afternoons be then if you still had plenty of time to get everything urgent completed yet still be able to leave the office at a reasonable time to enjoy your well-earned weekend?
The answer is actually very simple, making more money is not about burning more calories, it is about being smarter with the calories that you do burn. In my experience, as being both a consultant and a team leader it is very easy for consultants to fall in to the trap of just going through the motions. Recruitment by nature is a very repetitive job. If you were explaining the job of a consultant to an alien, it would be spending your day on the phone, talking to people about your specific area of focus. Then tracking the information on a database before at the end of the day sending out emails with CVs on to your various live roles. Now I appreciate this is a very superficial description of the role however the repetition side of it is completely true. Our brain is programmed to try and systemise everything that we do to try and limit how much focus we need to give on repetitive tasks so we can still be alert to threats. The best way to understand this is sometimes when you have driven to a destination, turned corners, gone around roundabouts and slowed down due to traffic, however, when you get to the destination you often can’t remember the journey there especially if you are tired or distracted. As a result of the amount of times you have driven a car, your brain has now systemised the actions of driving so you can complete it without having to actively think through every movement.
The reason this is actually a dangerous evolutionary trait for recruiters is because if we lose our engagement with the process then all of a sudden it can be lunch time before we know what we have done. Calls have been made and tracked, however when on the calls, generic questions were asked, almost like AI, a pre-programmed question follows a certain answer. What have you got out of those calls? Absolutely nothing because the brain isn’t engaged and absorbing new information or laddering questions to uncover potential leads or rapport building opportunities. One of the biggest differentiators between consistent top billers and the rest is their inability to waste time. Every call they make has a purpose, whether it be candidate or client focused, there is a reason for the call that will generate them value of some description. This does mean that their strategy needs to be on point as to what they are trying to achieve, what the gaps are on their current desk and what is their shortest route to value. SRV (shortest route to value) is a brilliant mentality to get your teams to operate by. What this means is that every time they start an activity they ask themselves, is this going to generate me value? Or is there anything else that I have to do that could actually generate me value quicker? Being this analytical means that every part of the day is driven by a clear purpose and so will limit the number of pointless calls or time spent scrolling LinkedIn. As a result, consultants then operate with my favourite word in mind … EFFICIENCY! Working efficiently means that you have more time to do things that will generate you genuine value which in turn results in more profitability. Tim Gallwey wrote a fantastic book about performance called ‘The inner game of tennis’, where he comes up with a formula for high performance. He said that Performance = Potential – Interference. So, your likelihood to be successful and generate consistent high performance is down to a balance between your potential (competency) and various interferences that stop you from achieving this. Interferences can be both physical and emotional. So as a leader if we can limit the interference that a consultant faces we will see greater performance as they work with purpose and efficiency.
In my experience, the biggest ‘interference’ that consultants bring on to themselves is the time spend working on undefined positions. If you think about the amount of time is wasted sourcing roles that do not result in any revenue, it’s almost incomprehensible. Now of course there has to be some reality with that thought that you are not always going to fill every role that you work on (we will discuss pitching for exclusivity and retained work on another day), but for contingent roles you want to be looking at a fill rate of 1 in 3 to 1 in 4. Having been a consultant myself for a number of years, I can understand why consultants do it initially. They do it because they are thinking optimistically that by doing so then they are closest to feeling that buzz again just before you make a placement. Also at a number of companies, there is a real focus on numbers and outputs. The wrap up conversation at the end of the day seems a lot easier when your manager comes around and asks how has your day been and you can reply with, ‘yeah good thanks, got 3 CVs going out to Client X’. So, with all this combined you can have a bit of empathy with their optimism. The term ‘undefined’ does not just mean that actually there isn’t a need at all, there may have been a need at the start however if the process was not fully defined and then redefined at various stages then the role may have turned in to something else. This normally manifests itself as an excuse from the consultant which sounds a bit like ‘the client moved the goal posts’ or ‘I don’t think the client even know what they want.’ There is a difference between the client not knowing what they want and you not knowing what the client wants.
As a leader, you want to be able to identify gaps within your team and plug them with some engaging and effective training. In this article, I am going to give you a helping hand with this training session but also it means that you have greater control on the roles that your team are working on. Meaning they spent more time either defining roles properly in the first place and turning away roles that are not going to generate any value. They need to value their time. All this combined means a more profitable team who have more time and energy to turn and come again.
In my experience and what I discuss in our sales training programmes, there are 8 key areas of a role process that you want to have some information about before you can class a role as fully defined. These are as follows;
If your consultants have these bullet points in front of them with the key questions alongside them, then you can be confident that a clear decision will be able to be made as to whether it is a commercially sensible decision to work on the role. It is key that you test the commitment at the end and have those next touch points booked in. Furthermore, this is not all just done on the first call. After the first round of interviews it is worth asking some of these questions again that may have changed after they have met with people. Timeframes may have changed if someone is now on holiday or the budget may have changed, so if you want to have consultants that can influence the outcomes of processes better get them asking these questions throughout the process. Spending 5 minutes getting these answers will save them hours of time wasted sourcing a role that was never going to lead to revenue!
In summary, top billers operate efficiently which enables them to prevent burn out but also to continually generate revenue as they have a purpose to everything they do. A team with more time and energy have the ability to be more profitable as long as they think with the mind-set of shortest route to value. It is your role as a leader to ensure the team know what value means and to limit the interference they bring on themselves. One of the biggest interferences consultants bring on themselves is working on undefined processes. Think about the key areas of defining a process that are required to make smart commercial decisions on whether a role is worth working. You will then have greater control on the roles they work and also improve your team fill rates.
EFFICIENCY EFFICIENCY EFFICIECY – make more money by working smarter, not longer!