Being a consistently successful owner of a recruitment firm isn’t easy.  A past history of high personal billings can actually get in the way of your firm’s long term success!

When I moved from high billing employee-recruiter to firm ownership I was suddenly tasked with handling details I didn’t deal with before. This included: choosing tools (e.g. ATS, sales, & recruiting tools), implementing a good website & marketing plan, hiring, training & managing staff, billing, accounting, & payroll, leasing office space, etc. It seemed like a never-ending stream of challenges that pulled me away from what I used to do best- making placements. Plus, each additional distraction made it harder for me to focus on making placements. Can you relate to this?

Since we all have different strengths, weaknesses, skills, experience, values, and character traits, our firms tend to excel and struggle in different areas. As you’ve probably discovered, your strengths are only useful if your weaknesses don’t sabotage them. For example, consider a recruitment firm that’s outstanding at new business development. They may do dozens of things well, but if they don’t consistently deliver quality candidates or drop the ball on important details to their clients, they can quickly lose clients. Remember the saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”? Your business is essentially an array of interlinked chains. It only takes one weak link to derail your success.

So how do you shore up your weaknesses? It all starts with awareness. Increasing awareness is difficult for the following reasons:

  • Most of what we do every day is automatic and habitual. This allows us to get things done efficiently but also causes us to sacrifice paying close attention to what we’re doing.
  • We tend to keep ourselves busy working without paying much attention to the efficiency and effectiveness of our work. In other words, working “in our business” rather than “on our business”
  • Our egos have “self-protective” mechanisms to keep us from seeing ourselves objectively in order to maintain a positive self-image. It can be very humbling to objectively review our actions and results since they inevitably show us how imperfect we are.

For these reasons, the most successful leaders in business and other areas of life set up deliberate systems to regularly increase awareness of their weaknesses to address them. Below are some specific ways you can incorporate this recruitment best practice into your business and life:

  1. Set up regular periods of “quiet time” to reflect. Our minds don’t work well when we’re stressed. Below are some practical tactics to create quality, quiet time. Be willing to experiment and add your own as you see fit:
  • Put yourself in a different physical space that’s not associated with your typical workspace A different space and computer can change your energy dramatically!
  • A few minutes of focused, slow breathing or walking in an area that you find calming can help you slow down your mind and disengage from emotional thinking.
  • Listen to calming music that makes you feel good
  1. Focus on a “big picture view” of your business. We’re naturally wired to hone in on problems and threats that are most obvious to us. We want to quickly solve these issues and move on to the next thing. This creates very narrow, tactical thinking (putting out fires) rather than strategic thinking (preventing fires or using the fires to cook something). When you move to strategic thinking, you work on your business. Now you can more easily see “root causes of problems” and how they’re interrelated

I’ve created a tool for recruitment firms that is a practical worksheet that allows you get a 360 degree view of your operating processes. Use this to gain an objective, big picture view of your business operations. Quickly identify the most critical areas for you to work on your business now and in the future.

  1. Create regular systems of quality feedback. Much of what you’re aware of about yourself has come from the feedback of others. The best leaders set up deliberate processes to gain high-quality, objective feedback from people they trust. You want a wide variety of feedback sources: clients, candidates, employees, peers, and professional advisors. Each provides different information and serves a unique purpose. Clients, candidates, and employees are the easiest sources to utilize since you regularly interact with them. The key is to ask them the right questions in the right way to elicit the level of honest and accurate feedback you need.

It’s more difficult to find qualified peers and professional advisors. It’s ideal to have peers and advisors who specialize in the recruitment industry since there are industry nuances that outsiders wouldn’t know. Nuances that are critical to help you implement optimal recruitment strategies and best practices.   Check out recruitment peer advisory groups that can help you figure out how to build a recruitment business that is healthy and works for you!

Putting it into action
A proven strategy utilized by the most successful business leaders is to strive for small, continuous improvements in multiple areas of their business. The Japanese use the term “kaizen” for this strategy. As a practical application, select five processes that you want to improve in from the “Optimize Your Operating Processes” download above. What if you committed to deliberately improve only 1% per month in each of these five processes? 1% per month is miniscule and very doable. What type of impact would this have in a year? This would add up to more than 5% of improvements per month since each small improvement would have a “ripple effect” in other areas. Additionally, the gains would compound like interest. The actual improvements over a year would be more like 75-100%! This represents a transformational change to your success and profitability. Try this concept for six months and let me know what you discover.

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