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How to Balance Personal Billings and Team Performance – Part 3: Building a Cohesive Team

As part of our series of articles on our ‘How to Balance Personal Billings and Team Performance’ journey we have looked at the three components that you need to balance as a billing manager.

These are 3 key components are:

We have already got insights on how to achieve your targets and how to develop the individuals within your team, so now let’s get into component three, how to build a cohesive team.

 ‘I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.’ – Mother Teresa

Being a Good Leader

Bringing together individuals and merging them into a team requires a leader. Someone who can inspire and animate others, and bring the best out of them. So, what can you do, as the leader of your team, to get the most out of them?

Build Trust

For a team to work well together and really achieve meaningful goals there needs to be trust. Trust from you that they will hit deadlines and get their work done, but also between each other. When a team trusts each other, they can be truly open and honest without fear of rejection or embarrassment, which encourages ideas, creativity and progression.

Encourage Feedback

Feedback is vital for improvement, which as a team you will need it to improve and hit your targets. The first thing you’re likely to think of when we say feedback, is feedback from you as the manager to your team members. This is important, but almost more importantly, is feedback from your team on you as their leader. If the trust is there then this will not be an issue, and they should feel that they can come and talk to you about anything, including your performance in leading them.

Listen

When they come forward with this feedback then listen. Listen to what they have to say, and take it onboard. There is nothing worse than someone that says ‘you can speak to me about anything’ and then doesn’t listen. Also listen to anything else they have to say, whether this is on issues with each other or something as simple as they prefer tea to coffee. Paying this extra bit of attention will make them feel valued as part of your team.

Equip Your Middle Management Team to Become True Leaders

The Recruitment Trailblazers programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

Be True to your Word

Following listening to your team, if you say you are going to do something, maybe to resolve an issue for example, then make sure you are true to your word and do what you say you will. Your team will lose trust in your if you repeatedly say you are going to do something and nothing comes of it. Equally this is a great way to build that trust of your team, by doing what you say you are going to do they will trust what you say next time.

Provide Direction with Clarity

As the leader of your team, it is down to you to provide direction. Setting the goal for your team to pull together and work towards is a must. Without a goal, there is nothing to work towards, and if everyone sets their own goals they are not truly working as a team. Even if this is reminding everyone of the company vision, by having this as a mutual interest between everyone it keeps everyone heading in the right direction.

Clarity is key here too. If this goal or vision keeps changing or is blurry then no one knows where they are going, including you. Being clear and consistent results in a team that know where they are going and what they are doing.

Empower your Team

In part one we looked at how to delegate effectively, which is also great for empowering your team members. By delegating tasks to your team, this gives them some responsibility and the opportunity for autonomy. Feeling like they have ownership of some tasks is likely to motivate, encourage them and build that all important trust, as you are trusting them with the task.

Resolve Conflicts

Constructive conflict can be good at times, but you need to be careful that it doesn’t turn into more than this. Healthy teams will challenge each other at times and this is a good way to develop thoughts and ideas. Be quick to step in and resolve unconstructive conflicts though, if a solution between team members cannot be reached without your help.

Celebrate Success

Celebrating success as a team is a sure-fire way to pull everyone together. Everyone enjoys being successful and being able to share that with others in your team is bound to encourage and motivate them for more.

Communication

Through all of this communication is key. This is not limited to occasionally asking for feedback and sitting and listening to what you team has to say, there should be frequent open lines of communication with you and your team. Keeping them involved and informed will make them feel valued and important to you, as part of the team, and to the business.

Building Community within your Team

Social activities can help to build community within your team. Maybe a meal out or a day out somewhere are great ways to bring the team together and to get them in a non-work environment, to get to know them all better. While you’re out get some images too, for social media to build that visible company culture that is sure to attract more of the right kind of people.

So, all in all to build a cohesive team it requires the right kind of leader. By concentrating on being a good leader with all the pointers we have here, it will get you off to a brilliant start. Leadership is ever developing and, so you should be too. Continuous work and development on yourself, forever learning new skills and techniques to build something even better.

Take Home Message: Concentrate on being a good leader and you will build a cohesive team around you.

Best in class training modules with Trailblazers

The programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

How to Balance Personal Billings and Team Performance – Part 2: Developing the Individuals in your Team

Our first article on our ‘How to Balance Personal Billings and Team Performance’ journey was on the first of three components that you need to balance as a billing manager.

In our series of blogs that are coming up we will visit each of the 3 components that you need to balance in order to be a successful billing manager based on our experience of working with over 1000 recruitment business in the last 10 years.

These 3 key components are:

‘Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity’ – Henry Hartman

So, now let’s dive into how to develop the individuals within your team. Let’s start from the beginning…

Hiring the right people

Hiring the right people from the start is key to having successful and high performing individuals to make up your team, but that is easier said than done. Ironically as recruiters and experts in talent sourcing, we are often not as good as we should be. Why – 3 reasons:

  • We haven’t worked out what we’re looking for and therefore don’t select against the right profile
  • We don’t invest creatively about our selection process
  • We move fast and are short of time so compromise

During the hiring process, as you will already know, a lot rides on the actual interview. Taking them out of the typical interview style situation will give you a better feel for them as a person, which lends to a more informed hire. The upsides for taking them out with potential future team members is huge.

Embrace social media when it comes to hiring too, and by this we don’t mean post lots of job ads on your social profiles. Lots of potential candidates will check out your social media pages before getting in touch, applying for a role or coming for an interview. They will be looking to get an inside view of what it is like to work at your company, so post some insights to draw interest and more informed candidates.  Focus the messaging on the emotional reasons for joining you more than the rational.

Hiring is ultimately the most important part of developing a strong team – bring the right talent in, in the first place.

Personality Profiling

Personality profiling and psychometric tests, such as that offered by Thomas International, are a great way to get an objective view of the person, rather than a subjective opinion. Having this extra information on the person you are hiring is such an advantage, as it will help you visualise where they sit best in the team and how they may compliment your current team members. It gives you a deeper insight into what they are genuinely like as a person, their strengths, weaknesses and so much more. This information is also invaluable when it comes to developing them further as an individual. It’s also powerful for onboarding them faster (because you understand them and can support their behavioural weaknesses.

Understanding your Teams’ Motivations

There are studies that show something slightly unexpected when it comes to what motivates us. When people are faced with a mechanical task with a reward on offer, the higher the reward, the higher the performance, as expected, nothing strange there. But when faced with a rudimentary cognitive task, bigger rewards lead to poorer performance, which is completely unexpected.

Dan Pink explains this extremely well in his animated video ‘The Surprising Truth about what Motivates us’ which is uploaded to our Recruitment Expertise Dashboard (REX).

Through these studies it is suggested that there are 3 other factors which lead to better performance and self-satisfaction with cognitive tasks. These three factors are:

  • Autonomy- to be self-directed, come up with ideas themselves
  • Mastery- the reason why many people learnt to play a musical instrument for example, we want to be good at something
  • Purpose- people want to know what they are working towards, without this it all seems pointless

Unengaged, unmotivated individuals will not perform well, which will affect your whole team. Assessing your team, from a performance and personality type point of view, will ensure you set a benchmark and understand their motivations, therefore improving their performance. We have a part of our Leadership Course and Trailblazers we offer a free, easy to use tool called Motivational Bingo, which helps you understand the big 5 motivators for any consultant.

Equip Your Middle Management Team to Become True Leaders

The Recruitment Trailblazers programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

Performance Management

Performance management doesn’t just mean the formal annual review, there is much more to it than that. Yes, the annual review has its place, but as its name suggests it should be kept annually, and not more frequent than this. Too many formal reviews can actually have a negative affect on performance as opposed to a positive one.

On the flip side, more casual feedback should be frequent. Rather than waiting for an annual review, it has been shown that people appreciate regular constructive feedback. The emphasis should be on the person’s strengths and positives, praising them too when they have done well at something.

Even a simple ‘well done on that last piece on work’ in a passing comment works well, it doesn’t haven’t to wait until you are reviewing their performance. These passing comments, although very much appreciated by those that receive them, they are often forgotten.

Keeping track of performance is a great way to motivate the members of your team. Remembering where they started, where they are today and where they are going is excellent.

Dealing with Poor Performance

So, one of your team is under performing, what do you do? Dealing with their poor performance can be a delicate area and needs to be managed carefully. It is not something that should be put off, it will definitely be easier to deal with sooner rather than later. Caught early enough, hopefully it won’t have caused too much of an issue and can be resolved quickly.

First thing is first, check that you have been clear and that they have understood what it is that they are meant to be doing. Any misunderstanding could be a root cause of under-performance. You both could be looking at the performance from different angles and not getting the same outcome. Have a relaxed chat with them to start, and listen, don’t talk too much.

Feedback banner for Trailblazers
Feedback can be delicate and must be handled with strategy and care

Once you have listened to their side and what they think they should be doing it is time to give feedback. Feedback needs to be specific. Vague feedback is not helpful. If the person hasn’t understood where they are going wrong how are they meant to fix it? Feedback also needs to be constructive. Give examples of how they could do something differently if they are struggling to understand.

Example of bad feedback:

“You have submitted your work late and it is wrong. I didn’t ask for that.”

Example of good feedback:

“Thank you for getting that work back to me. After looking at the work, however, I think there may have been a misunderstanding. I was after ………… rather than …………… and I seem to remember asking for it to be with me by yesterday.”

On establishing the reasons for the under-performance, it is time to help them to get on the right track. Plug any skills gaps and help them to learn as much as they can to improve their performance. Maybe scheduling in some time for you both to sit down and go over anything they do not understand or would like to learn. This puts a plan together to start tackling the gaps of knowledge.

Whenever dealing with poor performance, you should always give the person the benefit of the doubt. If they do not understand still, it may be how you are explaining something, so think about trying to explain things differently.

Allow them time to learn too. Some people pick things up quicker than others, and everyone cannot be expected to know everything.

Praising Good Performance

It is important to recognise when someone has done something well too. All too often the positives are forgotten or expected day in, day out, but they shouldn’t be. A good leader of a team will recognise, celebrate and enjoy their teams’ successes with them. This will boost performance and make your team members feel appreciated, and they will want to better next time. Also encourage the rest of your team to recognise each other’s achievements and celebrate with them.

Support Innovation and Creativity

Innovation is essential to stay ahead of the curve, with the most successful teams and businesses staying flexible. Setting up the right environment for innovation and creativity to grow and develop, with the right support in place is the best way to encourage it. Demanding your staff to be creative and come up with ideas on how you can develop business and grow is not going to work.

Brainstorming sessions with a ‘no idea is a bad idea’ rule is a great way to get everyone to open up and start to be creative. Multiple minds are better than one, and everyone thinks differently. Common issues or challenges faced by the team may find solutions in these types of sessions, which will put you ahead of the competition, if they are plugging along demanding creativity and solutions.

Autonomy

Allowing autonomy within your team could actually improve performance too, enabling them to try out the ideas that they have come up with in their brainstorming sessions. This works well for both parties too, you and them. Passing some responsibility to your team on some things gives you more time to concentrate on others things, but also makes your team members feel trusted and appreciated.

Take Home Message: Gives constructive feedback regularly, whilst providing an environment for innovation and creativity. Know your team members, what motivates them, and their strengths and weaknesses in order to help their progression and improve performance.

A coaching led approach will get them thinking for themselves (more of that another day)

Key takeaways:

  • Ensure absolute clarity -set expectations
  • Focus on positive and consistent feedback
  • Make them know you genuinely care
Best in class training modules with Trailblazers

The programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

How to Balance Personal Billings and Team Performance – Part 1: Achieving your targets

Knowing how to get the most out of your team whilst maintaining your own, consistent high performance that you’re used to, is not easy, but don’t despair, there are things that you can do to help!

In our series of blogs that are coming up we will visit each of the 3 components that you need to balance in order to be a successful billing manager based on our experience of working with over 1000 recruitment business in the last 10 years.

There are 3 key components that, as a billing manager, you need to balance. Which we’ll be covering during the next 3 weeks:

In this article we visit the first point on our list of components to balance as a billing manager which is achieving your targets.

‘If you want to change the world, start with yourself’- Mahatma Gandhi

Self-Management – holding yourself to account

The best place to start is with yourself. There is nothing worse than trying to motivate a team who can see you’re not practising as you preach. Making sure that you do everything as you would advise one of your team to, unless there is a specific reason, is a good idea. We influence by behaviours and actions far more than by what we say.

So, here’s some practical approaches that the best billing managers seem to nail:

  • Do you own Job Spec – remind yourself of what responsibilities you should own and share with the team. Set expectations of yourself, create clarity and hold yourself to account.
  • Map out the skills, knowledge and attitude you should develop and take responsibility for your continuous development.
  • Map out what success looks like (£, clients, candidates, process, team, you etc – The financial performance is the outcome from doing the other bits well) – paint a compelling picture of success looks like and make sure it excites you.
  • Decide what attitudes you should adopt and choose to consistently live them.
  • Revisit what you measure yourself against (it’s more than just the numbers).
  • Share the above with your team so they see how you set high expectations, measure yourself, set yourself goals, push to develop yourself, etc..
  • Ask for feedback.

By taking a step back and managing yourself, not just from a sales figures point of view, you’ll not only achieve your personal billings, you’ll influence the team. 

Personal Effectiveness (categorising and prioritising activities to maximise your impact)

Work smart.  You can’t manage time, but you can decide where you spend your efforts and energy, it can revolutionise the way you work. Any busy professional always wishes that there were more hours in the day, but do you make the most of the ones you do have?

Getting into a good routine will help you to use your time efficiently. Knowing what it is that you should be getting on with, rather than contemplating what you need to do next will save time. This will streamline repetitive tasks on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

So, how do we do it – here are some powerful approaches that work:

  1. Work out your end game (see above) and ditch anything that isn’t taking you there
  2. Map out the different hats you have to wear (business development, account management, personal billings, team development etc etc) and reflect on which hat’s falling off.
  3. Your time matters – learn how to categorise and prioritise activities. Work with a 4 box grid based on urgency and important:
    • Urgent/important stuff – Do it
    • Non-urgent/important stuff – Diarise it (and respect the diary entry – this stuff moves the team forward)
    • Non-important/urgent – Delegate it
    • Non-urgent/not important – Dump it
  4. Say no to interrupters and finish off what you’re doing
  5. Start the day with the big stuff
  6. Give yourself and diarise 1 hour slots to do those things which often slip (planning, coaching, analysis etc)

Download the 4 stage planner here:

Reflection and stopping for 10 minutes can be your best friend when it comes to time management. Analysing processes and previous tasks, there may be ways that you could do things better the next time round. Here, at The Recruitment Network we use something called a W3 to analyse ourselves, performances and processes and where we spend our time.

W3 Graphic for Trailblazers
Running a W3 can give some interesting insights post project/task

The W3 is a simple, quick and easy to use concept. It is basically three points to go through.

W1- What went well?

W2- What didn’t go well?

W3- What can we do better next time?

Systematically reflecting on past performances and processes using this technique, will help you to save time, improve and prioritise tasks. Use a list to plan tasks effectively, include the information from your W3, and set deadlines for yourself within this plan. Then manage everyone else’s expectations to prevent unnecessary pressure on yourself. Finally, don’t over commit yourself, know your limits and don’t be afraid to ask for help or say no if you need to.

Equip Your Middle Management Team to Become True Leaders

The Recruitment Trailblazers programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

Marginal Gains

Something else to think about is what marginal gains can you make to improve on your performance or the performance of your team. When combined, these ideas are powerful enough to really make a big impact towards smashing your targets.

Evaluating where you could make small changes in all areas of work, from meetings to technology and client interactions to health and well-being, could make the difference to boost your team to the next level in terms of performance.

Making a small change to meetings, for example, by asking everyone in the meeting to park their phones and give their full attention will make the meeting more productive. Shave 15 minutes off a meeting can give back 15 minutes to a team of 4 -that’s an extra hour a week to impact performance. Only invite the necessary people to the meeting, so not to waste the time of the people who do not have to be there.

Marginal Gains was a big focus at our previous Huddle, read about it here.

Focus

To balance everything that you have on your plate it is essential that you have focus. You need to focus on the quality of your work rather than the quantity, which may mean reducing the number of clients you work with to concentrate on the ones that are more important. By this we don’t just mean the ones you like the most, but the ones that you have retained deals with or provide you with a good number of openings to fill each month or year. Make sure that you are working on the right roles, not just as many as you can find.

Keep an eye on the bigger picture and ask yourself, are the decisions that I make now good for the growth of the business? With everything considered, you need to remember to work towards positively influencing business growth, the is the vision that you need to be focused on through all of this.

Focusing your attention on what is important means not setting yourself too many goals. It is better to set a few, meaningful goals for yourself with deadlines to work on, rather than loads of goals and scatter your attention on each, not doing a good job of any. You have a team who are there to help each other. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if it is needed.

Make sure goals, objectives and activities are all aligned.

Whiteboard poens for ideas
Bringing in your team to the decision making process will help make them feel more invested in the team’s objectives.

 

 Effective Delegation

One of the biggest difficulties of delegating is learning to let go. If you are used to managing your own tasks and taking charge of them, it can be hard to release some of this control. You need to trust that the person in your team that you have delegated the task to can do what you’re asking of them.

The key components to delegating well are:

  • Start with the outcome- allow for flexibility and autonomy. The person you delegate the task to may have other ideas on how to get to the same outcome, which may be better.
  • Identify limits- are there any absolute hard rules to the task?
  • Follow their progress- regular checks to ensure the task is on track are a good idea, but not too often, you don’t want to micro manage.
  • Mistakes- people learn from the mistakes they make and by preventing this you may stop them from learning. Allowing someone to make a mistake while doing a task will mean they are more likely to remember that in future and avoid the same thing.
  • Recognition on completion- make sure to praise good work. This is often forgotten about when the task is complete, but recognition for a job well done will go a long way towards keeping them motivated.

So, you have focusing your efforts, managing your time and yourself more wisely and delegating successfully what you can, now what? The next component on our list to balance as a billing manager is to build a cohesive team, which is what we will look at in the next article, but let us leave you with the take home message from this piece:

TAKE HOME MESSAGE –

Work out what is important, make those small changes and focus your time wisely. Learn to let go of the smaller tasks and ask for help when needed. Be clear on the overall vision, and keep on track. Manage yourself if you want to earn the right to do the others

Best in class training modules with Trailblazers

The programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

Tweak Performance – 201 Ways to Build a Recruitment Business and outperform the market

Another year, another opportunity to build an exceptional recruitment business outperforming the market.

Bullhorn, one of The Recruitment Network’s Gold Partners published their research recently into the top trends facing the industry in 2018 (check it out – fascinating insight).  The report highlighted an optimistic outlook in the main, irrespective of the uncertainties of Brexit, economic growth, inflation rates and inflation. 3 key priorities identified by the 1,400 respondents for 2018 were:

  1. Increased profitability – 49%
  2. Candidate sourcing and acquisition – 41%
  3. Driving revenue growth 36%

Whatever our priorities and challenges, we’re not going to achieve our strategic ambitions by doing more of the same (i.e. what we were doing in 2017). The market’s evolved and we’d better evolve if we want to stand out. In January, 110 recruitment business leaders, members and partners of The Recruitment Network, came together to access at the Brewery in London to share some ideas about making 2018 another record year for our members.

The theme was Marginal Gains – those small enhancements which can turn strategic ambition into reality. For fast growing SME recruitment businesses, it’s rarely a big game changer which delivers long term value, rather it’s the consistent evolution of practices which impact productivity, profitability, efficiency, brand, and the candidate/client experience.  As ever the aim for the day was to give members thinking time, access to ideas and create a commitment to action which impacts business performance. Or as one recruitment entrepreneur said at the end of the day:

“The Recruitment Network forces you to take a breath, 2 steps back and the space to assess, interrogate and make effective decisions.”

One the many leadership challenges we help with at the Recruitment Network is ensuring that we balance Focus (making stuff happen and delivering results), taking the Overview (sticking our heads above the parapet), and Reflection (looking backwards to learn and improve). During the course of the day members accessed ideas from experts and colleagues as well all the successful recruitment entrepreneurs (the been there, done it guys who are happy to mentor and share their experience). At the Brewery the members were given some insights into the Future of the Workplace by CIPD Director David D’Souza and HR Guru Perry Timms. If we’re we are going to be strategic partners to our clients and be seen as talent experts, we’d better know where it’s all heading and help them evolve and understand the trends which will affect them.  The key shifts which will affect organisations moving forward (which we need to understand and respond to) are the shift from:

  • Top down hierarchical leadership >          autonomous socialised networking
  • Sequential thinking processes >          experimentation, reiteration, creativity
  • Internal R&D/policy making >          community and on-going innovation
  • Strategic planning/risk aversion >          emergent, experimentation and purpose led
  • Hard wired workforce >          flexible, on demand, lifestyle workers
  • Asset and ownership >          leveraged communities, communal sharing

That’s where it’s heading and that shift in workplace practices should influence our approach and the conversations we’re having with clients.

The principle of best practice and outperforming competitors by making marginal gains is inevitably best demonstrated by looking at existing recruitment businesses that are enjoying significant growth and outperforming others.

Ed Steer, CEO of award winning digital marketing recruiter Sphere Digital is a great example of a business leader’s obsession with marginal gains and continuous improvement. Ed’s been involved in and supported by The Recruitment Network for 3 years and is a great example of what can be achieved by small improvements effectively applied. That’s why, and Ed shared his story and lessons with the membership, since setting up the business 5 years ago, Sphere have grown revenue profits and reputation year after year (headcount at the end of 2017 reached 55). Ed’s obsession since day 1 has been on building an experience led business – deliver consistently excellent employee, candidate and client experiences believing that if you get that right the financial performance follows. Invest in the management, build employee engagement and productivity increases and Sphere’s attrition rate since setting up has been consistently between 10 and 15% by identifying marginal gains which will make Sphere better than the year before (individually personalised water bottles for 60 employees might sound like a small touch, yet the banter and fun it’s created is another example of a business always pushing to be better). Other areas where Ed and his team invest significant time – structured, facilitated quality thinking time involving leaders and the team – on areas such as:

  • Clarity of and team engagement with the business purpose
  • The consistency of approach when picking up a job
  • The consistency of approach when registering a candidate
  • Turning new business accounts into Key Accounts
  • The focus and productivity of the team

Sound radical? Of course it’s not. It’s the basics, but like most great businesses, Sphere focus on doing the simple stuff brilliantly.

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Johnnie Campbell, CEO of Social Talent, shared his thoughts on marginal gains that could be achieved around sourcing and acquiring talent (one of the top 3 priorities for 2018). Johnnie evidenced examples of how candidate sourcing and attraction could be transformed through refocusing adverts on emotion rather than rational thinking, creating an emotional argument, potentially linked to the client purpose which can influence candidate behaviour. Not a big change, yet hugely impactful. Johnnie, as ever, has the ability to convey simple powerful messages and provide powerful solutions to apply. One frustrated member shared at lunchtime after hearing from Ed and Johnnie: ‘This is my first Huddle and I wish I had known about the TRN before now!’

In a recent survey of The Recruitment Network members, we asked members to identity their priorities for 2018 and one area that was highlighted by the membership was the better use of technology. Hung Lee is The Recruitment Network’s recruitment tech guru, Hung shared 5 trends and 32 solutions which members could apply to exploit the tech trends and make marginal (and sometimes significant) gains in productivity, efficiency and client and candidate experiences. These tech solutions were shared with the members in the context of the 5 big trends which will affect recruitment in 2018 and beyond:

  • Data – how to thrive in a permission based world and how to turn data into communities
  • Automation – what might happen, what will/won’t happen and how to embrace and exploit it
  • Small social – how can you win the war for attention and create tighter and more intimate communities
  • Trust – how to build trust by embracing technology (assessments, videos, AI): without trust there’s no relationship and without relationships we’re stuffed
  • TTM – how can we exploit the opportunity and what’s the impact on the supply and management of resources

Alongside Hung, Steve Ward’s session focused on the 5 top tips for achieving marginal gains in the % of inbound candidates (versus outbound). Steve’s experience as a successful entrepreneur who built and sold CloudNine, a social media and digital talent agency built totally on using smart tactics to maximise inbound, putting themselves at the front of mind of the candidates and achieving competitive advantage. Steve presented an approach to sourcing candidates through a combination of events, PR, blogging and story telling.

I’ve always believed that coming up with ideas is the easy bit – it’s just a question of looking and asking. Clients, candidates, peers, competitors and your team will always provide plenty of ideas if you give yourself the opportunity to access them. At The Recruitment Network we’ve created an environment where through the face to face Huddles and Masterclasses and the online support we help members access leading edge ideas. As award winning recruitment CEO and Recruitment Network member Jonathan Keen (CEO of Cognitive) said after the Huddle “Each time I walk away with insightful, inspiring and simple things to achieve mine and the company’s goals.”

Accessing ideas is one thing, using them to positively impact the business is another  – how do you take concepts and ideas and get engagement from the team without imposing them? Leadership guru Mark Fritz shared a philosophy where performance is achieved by focusing on the outcomes rather than the team activities, and challenged recruitment leaders to obsess about the destination – business, team and individual – a little bit more than the journey to unleash business performance.  Mark’s observations highlighted successful business leaders who keep their ‘noses in and fingers out’ and ask coaching led, bottom up questions such as ‘ where do you want to get to and how will you get there?’ Inevitably such an approach creates shared leadership and high levels of engagement.

Bullhorn’s research highlighted optimism for 2018. What’ll help recruitment business leaders make 2018 as good as it could be is the chance to step back, the opportunity to identify and implement carefully selected marginal gains in key result areas.  The Recruitment Network launched 16 months ago and is the fastest growing network of recruitment business leaders because of a simple obsession with sharing ideas and stimulating action – 201 ideas were committed to on the day  members – and ensuring accountability combined with support.

Equip Your Middle Management Team to Become True Leaders

The Recruitment Trailblazers programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

The TRN Winter Huddle Roundup

Members of The Recruitment Network descended in record making numbers on a new venue this time for our Winter Huddle. The Brewery, a fantastic piece of London history, hosted over a hundred experts and recruitment business leaders in the first huddle of 2018.

“My first huddle and I have had a terrific day. Wish I had known about TRN before now!!!”

The air of enthusiasm from our members was palpable, we were here again ready to take our businesses to new heights, leaving with a ledger full of notes and list of actions to implement right at the beginning of the new year; a year which will be record breaking for many of our members.

We had a fantastic line-up waiting for our members, thought-leaders who are on the leading edge of the staffing industry ready to impart their knowledge, helping us adapt to our rapidly evolving market, giving us that vital edge when it comes to outperforming the competition. 

 

tweak-performance-graphic

Tweak Performance

We’re not ones to settle in slowly, as soon as our members were sat down we hit them with a interactive task based around the power of marginal gains. After watching an inspirational video from David Brailsford, general manager of Team Sky, on how he uses the power of marginal gains; small incremental changes to every aspect of his teams’ performance to help them achieve significant success.

Every table was given 10 balls with different aspects of their business written on them from Employee Engagement to Consultant Productivity as well as a blank document. Each table was tasked with coming up with 3 incremental 1% marginal gain changes they could make to each business aspect written on their balls.

Every single tweak performance idea was collected and sent out to every member of the network. With 13 tables, 10 subject balls and 3 ideas per ball, this means with the power of peer collaboration our members now have access to 390 new marginal gain ideas to implement in every aspect of their business, just from this very exercise.

 

Ed Steer speaking at the recruitment network winter huddle

Ed Steer of Sphere Digital

Next up we had Ed Steer CEO of Sphere Digital Recruitment and a TRN Member. Ed’s presentation was a spotlight on his company and what underpins their meteoric success, growing from an idea 5 years ago, to the 55 strong that they are today. He covered a wide range of subjects from his leadership methods, to the way he promotes and runs his company’s culture. This set the day off well, giving our members something to aspire towards in the new year.

“A unique forum to share experiences, challenges and sense check/test/validate the journey that you are on.”

 

Johnny Campbell speaking at The Recruitment Network Winer Huddle

Johnny Campbell

CEO of Social Talent and industry expert was next up. Johnny took us through the power of purpose in our work. He taught us to look for the whys rather than the whats and hows. Bringing a bit of reality to what we do as recruiters; changing lives and bringing purpose, and how we can effectively leverage the effectiveness of a great story to place candidates. At the close of Johnny’s excellent talk, discussion broke amongst the tables in the room, with everyone inspired to find and share the whys in their business. 

 

David D'Souzza and Perry Timms speaking at The Recruitment Network winter huddle

David D’Souza and Perry Timms

Next up was a double act of David D’Souza and Perry Timms. David D’Souza is Head of Engagement and London for CIPD and Perry Timms is an international CPD accredited and TEDx speaker on HR, technology and the future of work, so together hold a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with our members.

“Great energy, good range of speakers and content, top people, top event.”

Together they took us through what recruitment and the world of work could look like after automation has really took hold. From the sceptical side to the more optimistic view. It was a fascinating talk that peaked into the reality that will be at our doorstep quicker than we’d like.

hung-lee-and-steve-ward-photo

Hung Lee and Steve Ward – ‘The Sourcerers’

Hung Lee kicked off after lunch with tech trends that are taking over the recruitment industry and left us with some cracking examples of applications and programmes that are leading the way. The co-founder and CEO of Workshape.io, a high signal, zero noise talent marketplace for technology professionals, certainly knows these technologies inside and out. New technologies that are being used currently were shared with others at regular intervals throughout the talk, with moments of peer to peer discussions. 

“For a young director, TRN has provided me with the knowledge and insights to feel confident in the role that I am in, as well as enriching my contribution to my organisation.”

Steve Ward followed Hung with how he has used inbound marketing to increase leads for his recruitment business, Cloud Nine. The experimental business idea was to rely on these inbound leads, setting the marketing up so that clients and candidates come to them rather than going after them. This gave way to some good honest debate and members looking at their inbound rates, thinking of ways to make improvements.

 

Mark Fritz talking at The Recruitment Network Huddle

Mark Fritz

Lifting and inspiring at the end of a packed day was Mark Fritz. The World class leadership speaker, mentor, professor and author shared his wisdom with our members on why you never wash a rental car!

“Excellent day, great speakers and content, valuable insights to implement.”

The leadership guru had the whole room captivated with his vast knowledge and expertise, answering some in depth questions and queries as we went from the audience. Our members left with ledgers bursting notes, filled with management pearls of wisdom, ready to tackle the new year.

The discussions did not stop there, as many of the members stayed along after talks had finished to share insights and past experiences with each other, spurred by the topics of the day.

Don’t miss out on another huddle again! Each and every meeting is carefully built around your needs and challenges in mind, leaving you reinvigorated and bursting full of ideas for you to implement in the coming months. What makes us different is that we hold you accountable to the promises you made at our huddles, making sure you implement these cutting edge strategies and ideas.

“Each time I walk away with insightful, inspiring and simple things to achieve mine and the company’s goals.”

Follow this link and submit a quick form, and we’ll get back to you to discuss how The Recruitment Network can transform your business today!

 

Members collaborating at The Recruitment Network Winter Huddle

Issues in Succession Planning and how to solve them

In the final instalment of our succession planning month, we are going to discuss misconceptions and issues faced in succession planning, and how you can work through them to successfully plan for an exit of a business-critical employee.

Why is succession planning important?

With the ever-changing markets and uncertainty in the economy currently, there has never been a more important time to be prepared for every eventuality and being prepared for the future is essential when it comes to developing your recruitment business.

Succession planning is a process of preparing a structured plan to protect your business against the ill effects of staff turnover. Despite thinking “it won’t happen to us”, staff do leave companies. They may decide to move to a different area of the country or leave the country completely, they may leave to have children or to retire, all of which are outside of your control.

The unexpected and unplanned exit of a business-critical employee can have a disastrous effect on your business. The average cost to business on the downtime period between a business-critical employee leaving and their new successor (hired or promoted) reaching their optimal performance is £25,181, according to a study by Oxford
Economics, 2014
.

So how do you go about creating a succession plan to reduce this impact as much as possible?  In one of our recent blog articles, as part of our succession planning month we talk you through how do you write a bulletproof succession plan. By following this, you can start to get a plan in place in your business today.  

With succession planning being such a large subject with a great deal of content and preconceived notions about how it should be done, you’ll be forgiven for believing a few of these misconceptions surrounding succession planning..

Common Misconceptions Associated with Succession Planning

  • Succession planning is only for executive roles

–   Succession planning should be for any business-critical role. Any role that is critical to the day-to-day running of your business should be planned for, as it would have a detrimental effect on the business if the role were empty.

–   Also if an internal successor moves up into an executive position, it is likely that the role that they have come from is also business-critical, so this will need filling too.

  • We need to find an internal successor

–   There are two routes that you can take to find a successor for a business-critical role, internal and external. Internal successors are potentially less risky, but lots of companies frequently find successful external successors.

  • What has worked well in the past will work well again

–   Filling the business-critical role with a carbon copy of the previous employee may not necessarily be the best option. Sometimes a new set of eyes and perspective can take the business even further.

  • We have identified an internal successor, so we don’t need to look externally

–   A good, fully comprehensive succession plan will consider all options. To be fully prepared for the future you must set a plan in place so that if your identified internal successor were to leave before the business-critical employee you would not be left with a gap. Having a plan in place will help you to fill that gap quicker should the need arise.

  • Internal successors need to be ready to fill the role now

–   Succession planning should enable you to develop your employees, enabling the identified successor to step up into the role, not sideways. They will never be truly ready until they are in the role, and if they are ready then they may not hang around for the role to become open. It is likely that they will be in such a role, whether in your company, or in another.

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Common Issues Faced in Succession Planning

  • Not enough time to put a plan in place

–   This is a common excuse when it comes to succession planning resulting in many companies not having one. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, preparing for these situations will definitely save time in the long run.

  • We do not have an internal successor

–   This is exactly why it is essential to go through the process of planning ahead. If you do not have a suitable internal successor you are in even more danger from the effects of an ill-fated exit. To prepare for finding an external successor you may want to budget your time and money for the recruitment process.

  • We have too many internal successors

–   This issue is slightly less common, but a problem nonetheless. How do you choose who will be the best fit for the role? By objectively assessing what it is you need from the business-critical employee you can draw up a comprehensive job description to assess everyone against. This gives everyone a fair shot. It is important to encourage all high potential employees and nurture their talent, as they may be suitable to move up into another role instead.

  • We don’t know where to look for a suitable external successor

–   Depending on the role that you are planning for there are different places to search for a successor. Knowing your industry and where to advertise the specific role is crucial. Rec to Rec agencies are a great place to start, on top of using your network of contacts to find the right person outside of your business.

  •   We struggle to attract the right person for the role

–   Assessing the current condition of your company and whether it is a good place to work is the best place to start. After addressing any issues you find from assessing the current condition. If you still struggle to find the right talent, maybe widen your net and mindset about exactly what you’re looking for from your new employee.

–   Disney is a prime example of what can happen when a company struggles to find an appropriate successor for a business-critical role. Bob Iger has been CEO at Disney since 2005 and back in March of this year had his term extended by another year to 2019. This will mean that by the time his term is up he will be 68. The reason for his term being extended is down to their struggle to find the right successor, which puts them in a vulnerable position if anything were to happen to Iger in the next two years.

Sudden Exit of Your Business-Critical Employee, No Succession Plan in Place – What Next?

So, you’re suddenly left with a gap and no one in a business-critical role, but you failed to plan for their exit, what do you do? Here we look at the key points to run through in this kind of emergency.

  • Quickly assess your internal talent

–   Internal talent is definitely the best place to start when it comes to filling a business-critical role. They know your business, your culture, your clients and your candidates.

  • If there are no suitable internal successors to take over the role permanently, then are there any who can take over the role temporarily?  
  •  Search for an external successor

–   Is there anyone you had your eye on before the business-critical employee departed? This is the time to get in touch with them.

  • To help with the workload, is there any contacts you have in your network who can help to lighten the load?

–   Working together with other companies has many benefits, this being one of them. If you have other companies or contacts who can step in temporarily to lessen the potential damage through the gap that has arisen. The Recruitment Network Club is a great example of a community of business who come together to share knowledge and insight into their businesses. Through the club, recruitment business owners develop contacts and friendships with others who can help in times of need.

The key take home message here is that every business leader should make time for succession planning. We know that it is easier said than done, and there are many things that we wish we had more time for, but if there are roles in your business that are truly business-critical then you need a plan in place to protect you against changes to these roles and employees.

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Internal vs External Succession Planning

This month we’re tackling the subject matter of succession planning, where we’ll be looking at what succession planning is, how to make a great succession plan, what happens when it all goes wrong and more. We continue the month by looking Internal vs External Succession Planning.

It’s important to have a solid succession plan in place to avoid potential risk caused by business-critical employees exiting the company. Yet an important question that arises is; ‘Should we hire a successor externally or nurture a successor internally?’.

It’s an interesting question that will vary depending on a variety of factors, from the cost of an external hire vs. internal, the downtime, training and whether they would be a right fit.

It’s not clean cut – Optimal productivity

£25,181 is the average cost to business of the downtime period between a business-critical employee leaving and their new successor (hired or promoted) reaching their optimal performance. according to a study by Oxford Economics, 2014.

This means that you’ll very rarely get a smooth transition no matter how perfect your succession plan is whether you internally or externally fill the position.

With optimal productivity being our benchmark, a filled position will always experience some amount of downtime, as the hire can never fully prepare for the entails of the job.

Time taken to get to optimal productivity varies largely depending on the background of the new employee and the sector in which they are coming from previously. If the employee is moving firms in the same sector the time of optimal productivity is greatly reduced than when compared to a student or someone who was previously unemployed.  

Costs of Hiring

The costs of hiring a new employee varies based on a several factors. Studies have shown that the average cost of hiring a new employee is £5,433 (Oxford Economics, 2014). Factors affecting this can be anything from the sector the business is in, through to the type or level of employee that is being hired.

This means that there will always be a cost of bringing in someone fresh to fill the role. Whereas a promotion or pivot of an employee may save you some money in the short-term.

Another factor that has an impact on the cost of recruiting is the number of employees in the company. Companies with less than 9 employees spend on average £2902 on logistical costs, whereas firms with 250 or more employees spend on average over £7000. The difference in these costs comes down to smaller companies tending not to use temporary workers or recruitment agencies.

This will always depend on where you’re sitting financially at the time, if you’ve put in a succession plan to nurture a promising employee to move up to a new position for example a managerial position. Then training and preparation will pay off, downtime will be reduced and you’ll potentially increase loyalty with a promotion.

Some roles won’t be as replaceable, you’ll know through an effective development of a succession plan for that role. Roles like Financial Director or CEO may require the life experience and acumen of someone outside the industry.

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The ‘right fit’

The importance of a hire being someone who is the ‘The right fit’ for your business is substantial. With a market where people consistently swap job roles and businesses experience high levels of churn it’s a priority that a business makes the right cultural fit, unless they quit within 6 months.

For an internal successor, this of course is not an issue as they are an already established employee who has been a part of the business for years, who know their business intimately; it’s goals, values, employees and best practice.

It’s important for a company to realise the importance of the culture and talent attraction of their business and keep a plan in place when it comes to building and maintaining it which is something we discussed in our talent article.

Not only is it vital to hire someone who is the right fit for the business but they also must be the right fit for the role, which is not always easy. Personality profiling can help with this as it will give a more in-depth overview of a person than interview questions alone.

Thomas International have a range of well-developed psychometric assessments which are easy to arrange with candidates for them to complete as part of the hiring process. Not only does this give an excellent view of the candidate, their abilities and their personality, but it also provides a benchmark for the individual that can be monitored and assessed as they progress through their career and the talent management programme.

Training Internal Talent

Building internal talent to be prepared to fill a business-critical position can still be expensive and time-consuming. Whether you send them on courses or hire an internal trainer, you’ll experience some high costs to get them ready for the role.

It’s important, in a succession plan, that you tally up these theoretical costs for both eventualities and look at what the outcomes of both choices could be. But remember if you create a great internal training course which could be semi-autonomous will make it transferable company wide.

Members of The Recruitment Network receive free and unlimited Sales, Leadership, Retainer and CX training for their consultants as part of their membership, to find out more about this see here.

We also offer a course for promising candidates that you believe will be able to thrive in middle management positions called Recruitment Trailblazers; we’ll take them through everything they need to know to become a great manager of people – find out more here.

Talent Management Programmes

Talent management programmes ensure that the right quantity and quality of people are in place within companies or organisations for the current and future business requirements and it is the ‘future’ part of that statement where succession planning comes in. Planning for the future with a talent management programme should link in with the business’s strategies, otherwise it is easy to lose sight of the main goals and destination.

Studies have shown that businesses that have talent management programmes in place post up to 15% higher earnings than those of their peers, so although these programmes develop employees and their skills there are benefits outside of this for the business as a whole.

Personality profiling, through the assessments that Thomas International offers for example, gives quantifiable data that can measured and analysed in order to assess how the employee is progressing through the programme but also how well the programme is doing in providing value to the employee.

While talent management programmes develop the individuals involved, there are some qualities that cannot be developed, so hiring the right person for the role is so important right from the start. No amount of development can make up for a poor fit for a role and it is good to keep this in mind when hiring and developing employees.

Employee Engagement

Losing an employee in a position that holds great worth to the company warrants the undoubtedly want to avoid a similar scenario when filling the role. Employee engagement is vital to avoiding churn.

Preventing disengagement of current employees helps to keep the company culture in a positive place. When the culture within a company works well then it also makes it easier to find talent, as current employees would recommend their workplace to a friend or acquaintance.

Using talent management programmes can help to retain employees too. More and more studies are showing that younger generations are more concerned with doing challenging and meaningful work than previous generations, so by having these programmes in place it can help employees chart their progression within the company, in the same way that involving employees in the process of producing a succession plan.

By involving the individuals that are included in the plan, it will receive their input and ideas which broadens the view and encourages collaboration. It will also mean that the employees involved with feel valued as an individual within the business and that the company doesn’t want to lose them, despite planning for their exit.

The aging workforce that are in place in businesses today can cause some frustration with the younger up and coming workers. A survey by CareerBuilder showed that 60% of over 60’s are postponing their retirement due to the economic climate, but most of these older workers are in higher positions in companies. As a result of this progression for the younger workers can get delayed, which means that they start to look to move companies rather than staying put. Involving these kinds of employees, both the older and the younger, up and coming, in planning for succession can help them to see that they are all appreciated and play a role in a bigger picture.

Conclusion

We believe if you’re weighing up one or the other you’re going to lose, it all depends on the role and the correct conditions required to fill that role. The whole point of a succession plan is to be prepared for theoretical scenario’s that will affect the business.

As we’ve seen, employees who are nurtured and developed will remain loyal and engaged. So it’s vital a succession plan includes strong training protocols to get your most promising employees ready to tackle a more advanced position, as it will make them feel like a valued part of the company.

But it’s always a good idea to keep a plan of action in place to externally recruit a candidate for your business-critical employee role, especially when you’ve struggled to locate a internal candidate who will fully fit into the role.

When to externally recruit:

  • Have a great candidate already in mind who can fill in quickly.
  • You have a tight deadline for filling the position.
  • When the stability of the internal structure is delicate and shifting employees make cause trouble.
  • There still isn’t a strong succession plan in place yet, and time constraints make it difficult to create one quickly.
  • The required skills/experience required to take the role are not available/teachable internally.
  • It’s important to bring a fresh perspective into the role.
  • You’ve got a good training plan in place to onboard the new hire.

When to internally recruit:

  • Promising employees in the company who could fill the job.
  • Good lead time / notice, which you’re able to promote.
  • Your company is thriving and internal shifts are viable, employee surplus.
  • An abundance of skills and experience for the role with internal talent
  • Lack of onboarding training to bring an external hire to optimal performance efficiently

Every job role will be different and every company’s situation will be varied, so there is no one-way to effectively fill a role. So when it comes to internal versus external we say do both, be prepared and build a solid succession plan for each business-critical role.
Read the other entries of our succession planning month to get to know more about what a succession plan is and how to create a great succession plan.

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Succession Planning for Recruitment

Welcome to the first part of an exciting new strategy we’re attempting for the coming months and hopefully the future (providing it goes well) – We’ll be looking at some of the most interesting and relevant issues, themes and subjects in the recruitment industry and dedicating a whole month to it! This gives us the ability to really deep dive the subject matter and produce a fantastic amount of value adding content, for you!

For our first month, November, we’re looking at Succession planning in the recruitment industry. It’s a fascinating subject and we feel very important to recruiters who want to effectively scale and retain talent. It all comes down to the art of preparing for the future and covering all your bases, because if you’re not prepared when it all goes wrong it’s going to hurt.

The month will be comprised of 4 different articles, firstly we’re looking at Succession planning in Recruitment; what is it, should you have a plan a great in-depth overview which leads us into the second week. How to write a succession plan, we’ll be looking at what makes a great succession plan and how to create an effective one for your business, leading us onto an important questions that’ll arise in the third week. Internal vs External Succession planning, do you hire a successor for the role externally or nurture internally and finally we’ll be doing a little bit of myth busting and problem solving with week four. Issues in Succession Planning and how to fix them, there’s a lot of misconceptions and issue within succession planning and we’ll how to put an emergency plan in place if it all goes wrong!

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Succession Planning in Recruitment

Welcome to the first blog in our succession planning month. This is part of a brand new content strategy we’re starting. We’ll be covering some of the hottest topics in recruitment and leadership each month, trying to really dig in deep and produce valuable content you can use in your recruitment business.

In the last 15 years, The Recruitment Network has worked with hundreds of recruitment businesses with aspirations of growth. Without exception those who make it have a proactive talent management plan and effective succession planning.  As a people dependant business, our performance and growth comes from having the right people achieving, with the appropriate strength with depth of management to engage and inspire performance and loyalty.

What is succession planning?

A succession plan in the simplest sense, is a plan to map out successors for business critical roles moving forward. It’s a plan for the future which should reflect and be aligned to the business plan.

Succession planning is achieved by identifying:

Read more…

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How to Write a Bulletproof Succession Plan

Here in part 2 we’re going to delve into how to write and implement a succession plan in your business, from identifying the roles, defining the ‘gold standard’ of the role, deciding who will best fit that role then putting in the right objectives to achieving a solid succession plan.

Remember:

There is no such a thing as a finished succession plan. It is a working document and should be ever evolving as the successors and the business develops. It’s also not something that should only be reviewed annually, it requires updating and work throughout the year.

This isn’t just for the Directors.

Depending on the size of your business, each succession plan will look different but don’t dismiss succession planning for all roles below senior management and executives, it’s not just for the top bosses. It’s best to think of it more like a comprehensive contingency plan to safeguard your business against the ill effects of staff turnover and to enable growth.

Although succession planning is designed to safeguard your business when critical employees move on and up, it gives you the chance to develop and invest in your other staff, which will promote and encourage positive culture and engagement within your team.

Read more…

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Internal vs External Succession Planning

his month we’re tackling the subject matter of succession planning, where we’ll be looking at what succession planning is, how to make a great succession plan, what happens when it all goes wrong and more. We continue the month by looking Internal vs External Succession Planning.

It’s important to have a solid succession plan in place to avoid potential risk caused by business-critical employees exiting the company. Yet an important question that arises is; ‘Should we hire a successor externally or nurture a successor internally?’.

It’s an interesting question that will vary depending on a variety of factors, from the cost of an external hire vs. internal, the downtime, training and whether they would be a right fit.

It’s not clean cut – Optimal productivity

£25,181 is the average cost to business of the downtime period between a business-critical employee leaving and their new successor (hired or promoted) reaching their optimal performance. according to a study by Oxford Economics, 2014.

This means that you’ll very rarely get a smooth transition no matter how perfect your succession plan is whether you internally or externally fill the position.

Read more…

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Issues in Succession Planning and How to Solve Them

In the final instalment of our succession planning month, we are going to discuss misconceptions and issues faced in succession planning, and how you can work through them to successfully plan for an exit of a business-critical employee.

Why is succession planning important?

With the ever-changing markets and uncertainty in the economy currently, there has never been a more important time to be prepared for every eventuality and being prepared for the future is essential when it comes to developing your recruitment business.

Succession planning is a process of preparing a structured plan to protect your business against the ill effects of staff turnover. Despite thinking “it won’t happen to us”, staff do leave companies. They may decide to move to a different area of the country or leave the country completely, they may leave to have children or to retire, all of which are outside of your control…

Read more…

 

How to write a bulletproof succession plan

A good succession plan enables a smooth transition between someone leaving a role for whatever reason and it being filled and is critical to any business looking to maintain productivity and performance and grow.

You may have already put a succession plan in place without knowing it actually was a succession plan. It’s smart business practice and common sense to be prepared for the worst and losing a business critical employee can potentially be devastating; that is if you haven’t got a plan in place.

Equally a succession plan allows the depth of the talent to evolve as the business grows and to proactively plan for new roles, whether they are brand new roles (billing management, team leadership, support functions etc) or replacement positions becoming available as individuals leave or are promoted

Did you miss our first article in this series? Part 1 talks about the role of succession planning in a recruitment business, why we should have a plan, who it’s for and more.

Here in part 2 we’re going to delve into how to write and implement a succession plan in your business, from identifying the roles, defining the ‘gold standard’ of the role, deciding who will best fit that role then putting in the right objectives to achieving a solid succession plan.

Remember:

There is no such a thing as a finished succession plan. It is a working document and should be ever evolving as the successors and the business develops. It’s also not something that should only be reviewed annually, it requires updating and work throughout the year.

This isn’t just for the Directors.

Depending on the size of your business, each succession plan will look different but don’t dismiss succession planning for all roles below senior management and executives, it’s not just for the top bosses. It’s best to think of it more like a comprehensive contingency plan to safeguard your business against the ill effects of staff turnover and to enable growth.

Although succession planning is designed to safeguard your business when critical employees move on and up, it gives you the chance to develop and invest in your other staff, which will promote and encourage positive culture and engagement within your team.

Throughout the succession planning process a timeline of goals needs to be set. Goals and deadlines should be set to work through as time goes by, thus developing the successors and the plan. A short term and a long term plan needs to be put in place.

So, keeping these aspects in mind, let’s get started with the step by step guide:
Roadmap graphic for effective succession planning infographic

Step 1: Identifying Business Critical Roles

The very first step in kickstarting your succession plan is to identify which roles you are going to need to create a plan for, these are the business-critical roles. Business-critical roles are identified by analysing a number of aspects of each role:

  • Geographical location- If there is only one employee in that role, in that location, this makes this role vulnerable if they were to leave. An example of this could be a smaller regional offices with only 1 or 2 billers.
  • Specialised knowledge and expertise- does the expertise and knowledge required for this role need to be acquired over a long time?
  • Network and connections – does the person in this role have a large network of contacts that will be lost if they are no longer with the company?
  • Single incumbent- is this person the only person who knows how to do this role or the tasks associated with the role?
  • Rare in the market- are replacements for the role hard to come by? Could it potentially take a long time to fill this role because of its specialist nature?
  • Department Heads- many other roles within companies rely on guidance from heads of departments. Loss of guidance can mean the lack of direction toward company goals and targets.
  • Big biller- is the candidate a main contributor in terms of revenue coming into the business?

A little example for context.

Last year you decided to expand your consultancy from Manchester to London, you feel there’s an appetite for your niche and you were very lucky to find Ashley. Ashley has a large base of London connections, is good at her job, knows the market and subsequently runs your small team in London (there’s only 3 at the moment) oh, and she’s billing big.

Naturally Ashley fills a vast majority of the listed criteria, she’s in a vulnerable role that will leave a hard-to-fill hole if she were to suddenly leave, or be promoted internally. Now you have defined Ashley as a business critical role we take it to the next step.

Step 2: Define what you’re looking for from the role- Gold Standard

After you have identified your business-critical role, you need to define your ‘gold standard’ for the role. What does the perfect candidate look like? What skills and characteristics do they have?

The next step is to realise that it’s going to be a long shot to find this person. The perfect person rarely exists and you need to set your expectations accordingly. Produce a job description for the role even if you do not intend on hiring externally. This way you can assess any potential internal candidates against the same list of requirements, as you would your external candidates.

Your gold standard for the role may not list the qualities of the person currently in the role. The job description or list of requirements that you compile here should align with your long term business vision. Where do you see the role going? Is there anything you would change about the person currently in the role or the position itself? This will guide you when you start to look for your potential successor.

Ashley had a job description when you first found her but over time her role has evolved and changed. She has become invaluable in aspects you didn’t think of before, so it’s imperative you write a detailed, updated job description with everything she does. You’ve also brought her into the fold with your succession planning to help with the writing of it, and she’s highlighted a few internal activities she does that you weren’t even aware of. Ashley appreciated the fact you understand the importance of her position, enough that you need to make a plan.

Once you’ve completed the job description, have a good think about what the gold standard of the position would be, and with that you’ve got bold ambitions for the future of your London office as you could see it being a hub for a couple more southern offices. This adds a few more criteria to the job description, you’ll need someone hungry with good leadership skills to help propel the business.

Step 3: Decide who will best fit that role

Now that you have thought about what you would want from the role and what your gold standard is, you can clearly and methodically assess all potential candidates against the same list of requirements.

Following on from here, there are two different routes, internal and external. As we discussed in our last article, succession planning can be split between finding a potential star already within your company to train and develop, and finding an external hire who is able to step straight into the role and take it forward.

It is equally important to map out both of these routes. Do not view them as alternatives but standing side by side.

Internal Successor

Finding potential internal successors should be done as part of an integrated talent assessment on all employees. By assessing all employees it means that it is a fair process and no one gets left behind. It can also highlight any areas where your employees are lacking in the skills to succeed and could potentially progress your business to the next level.

It is all too easy to forget about your current employees if they have been in a position for an extended period of time; they do well in that position but you haven’t considered their full potential or pushed them to reach that. Everyone is happy in their comfort zone and some people may not look for more unless it is suggested.

Talent analysis- Visual tool 9 box grid

The 9 box grid is an effective visual tool which allows you to assess your employees’ current contribution to the company and their potential contribution. Along the ‘Y’ axis is potential and performance is plotted along the ‘X’ axis. Employees who fit into the top right box are likely to be first in line when it comes to being a successor. The boxes to the left and below would be next in line for a potential successor following some development.

Not only does this visual tool help with identifying successors, but it also allows you to spot the employees who are struggling and need help and guidance in their current role.

asset-2Assessing the training needed to plug knowledge gaps

Development opportunities should not be limited to successors only, but should be provided to all high potential employees, but also potentially underachieving employees too. By assessing skill gaps in all areas of the company, you are able to work towards plugging them, which is where talent management programmes come in.

A survey is a great way to assess the training needs of your employees. Here at The Recruitment Network we offer the Training Needs Analysis survey which enables you to get a clear picture of exactly what training each individual employee requires to progress in their current role. If you are interested in completing a survey for your company please contact us.

Implementing training- Talent management programmes

Talent management programmes are an excellent way of giving real structure to developing your successor, especially if they are moving into a leadership role which they do not have previous experience in. Our Recruitment Trailblazers programme focuses on transforming your top biller into talented recruitment leaders, through the peer to peer support and access to industry thought leaders.

External Successor

In addition to looking at all of your employees internally, to assess what they have to offer in terms of being a successor to a business-critical role, you should also plan for the option of finding an external successor. Internal successors could also leave, which would put a spanner in your succession plan if you had relied on them and only planned one scenario.

Budget- time & money

Going down the route of employing an external successor can have a significant short term financial impact on your business and this needs to be planned for. The whole cost of hiring on your time and money can only be planned for in theory but it is good to have a budget for this, so that it doesn’t come as a surprise, and to ensure that the costs don’t spiral out of control.

Planning the hiring process

After planning the budget, now you plan where you are going to find your new successor. By planning this process out it should reduce the time it will take to find a suitable person for the role. Hiring takes time and the wrong hire could cost your company a considerable amount, in lost time and money.

Onboarding process

Onboarding processes will be commonplace in many businesses but a plan, specific to the particular business-critical role, will lessen the time it takes to get the new hire to optimal productivity, therefore reducing the cost of downtime to your company.

Step 4: Setting up objectives

As we stated before a good succession plan evolves and changes to align with the objectives and position of your company. Stagnation is the enemy of progress and as your business grows so should your succession plan.

Once you’ve laid down the basics of your succession plan it’s a good idea to set in some objectives and revision dates to keep bringing you back to your plan, to avoid it going out of date.

Measurable goals to propel the succession planning process.

Put in dates with various parties to reassess the succession plan

Next put in some hard dates for objectives and changes, blocking out time in the diary to come back to the plan and see what’s changed is important, as these things can easily be ignored and left to collect dust – Then when the worst happens, you’re scrambling to update the plan, but it’s too late…

  • Has training been met? – If nurturing your internal successors, then training is a necessary aspect of getting them ready to take the position when it becomes available. It’s important to put in some solid dates to get them trained up.
  • Is there further training? – Every few months put in some dates to look at whether their training needs to be re-taken, reassessed or perhaps they’re ready to take on a more advanced course.
  • Has the job description changed? – Most of the time a job role will evolve and change over time, so make sure every 6 months you reflect on the original job description and confirm it’s the same, otherwise give it a tweak.

Does the succession plan meet with realigned business objectives

Your business is inevitably going to grow and change, quarterly objectives will be met, new plans will be in place, office dynamics will differ and that means your business objectives will change. Book in some time to refer to your succession plan regularly just to blow away the cobwebs and make sure everything is aligned.

Reassess the talent in your company

Your internal talent pool is going to change over time, from new hires to existing talent learning new skills and evolving their job role. Check back every 6 months to take an inventory of the talent within your firm. From productivity to skills, it’s important to reassess your successors.

Spending all of this time setting out a plan for your business-critical roles is pointless if you then close it up and put it away for another day. The plan needs to be worked on and kept up to date. No succession plan should ever be static and it should run concurrently with your talent management programmes. As your identified potential internal successors progress you will need to adjust your plan. We suggest that it is a good idea to revisit your plan every other month, or sooner if there are any developments within the company, such as a member of staff leaves, particularly if they are part of the plan, or your hire a new employee.

So, if you manage to identify the roles, set your gold standard and decide who will best fit that role, then keep it all up to date in your ever evolving plan, you’ll be in the best place to safeguard your business against the ill effects of staff turnover. In next week’s article we dive deeper into the question of internal versus external when it comes to succession planning, with the following week discussing what to do when it goes wrong.

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Succession Planning in Recruitment

Welcome to the first blog in our succession planning month. This is part of a brand new content strategy we’re starting. We’ll be covering some of the hottest topics in recruitment and leadership each month, trying to really dig in deep and produce valuable content you can use in your recruitment business.

In the last 15 years, The Recruitment Network has worked with hundreds of recruitment businesses with aspirations of growth. Without exception those who make it have a proactive talent management plan and effective succession planning.  As a people dependant business, our performance and growth comes from having the right people achieving, with the appropriate strength with depth of management to engage and inspire performance and loyalty.

What is succession planning?

A succession plan in the simplest sense, is a plan to map out successors for business critical roles moving forward. It’s a plan for the future which should reflect and be aligned to the business plan.

Succession planning is achieved by identifying:

1: ‘Business Critical Employee’s’ – Consultants, Resourcers, Marketing, Internal recruitment etc – required as a business grows and evolves.
2: ‘Successors’- Roles where it makes sense to have a suitably trained successor or someone who needs to be developed to take on the responsibilities of a higher role, respectively.

Any growing recruitment business requires key support functions and a management team (billing and non billing) as it goes through different growth phases. Identifying when and at what stage these roles will be required should be part of the business plan.

A strong succession plan will have a strong and clearly defined agenda which will contain a roadmap to train and lead the successor to a point where they’ll be able to step into the shoes of the business critical role. To get the most out of our succession plan it’s recommended you have at least a 3 year plan that will deal with different eventualities, which is constantly kept updated.

Why should we have a succession plan?

In a study by CareerBuilder, 27% of businesses cited that they had been adversely affected by poor succession planning. That certainly reflects our experience (except we would suggest it’s higher!). In the same way successful succession planning enables growth, equally poor succession planning means we hit a ceiling, or worse case go backwards as the team become disengaged and disillusioned.

Why it matters:

– Staff turnover is a business reality and the impact of lost productivity and sales through reactive recruitment and promotion is costly – Effective succession planning negates that risk. Notice periods tend to be around 4 weeks, maximum 12 weeks, generally speaking, which is not much time to plan or train a successor in a business critical role. For the successor to take over any key role or replacement and to make a success of it would be a difficult task without prior training and preparation.

– External recruitment is a risk – Promoting your known employees and having them ready reduces that risk.

– Engaged employees are more productive – Understanding career opportunities and personal development and growth potential matters to them.

Let’s look at a success story – One of our members at The Recruitment Network is particularly proactive when it comes to succession planning and has just employed employee number 60 after 4 years. Every member of the senior management team started out with them as a recruiter. They have not suffered from a single regrettable loss (of talent) and it’s evident when talking to their people that the vision of growth, and the way everybody has mapped out career opportunities in their business plan and the continued investment in them has had a significant impact on engagement and retention. Succession planning enables profitable growth.

Personal development and growth matters to employees

Personal development and growth matters to employees.

 

Who should a succession plan be for?

It clearly depends on what stage the business is at. Let’s look the example of a start- up:

A start up recruiter might have a 5 year plan to get to a Net Fee Income of £3.5m and a headcount of 30.

To deliver that strategic ambition is going to require some resource planning and succession planning. Starting the business probably came from one or two people with the ambition to grow a successful business. The resource planning if done properly will map out the roles needed moving forward which will include:

•           Additional consultants
•           Senior consultants
•           Team Leaders or billing managers
•           Non Billing managers
•           An MD

Equally as the business gets bigger it might require support roles and functions to help the consultants focus and deliver and allow the managers to manage, involving such roles as:

•           Resourcers
•           Marketing Execs
•           Internal recruiters
•           Internal training
•           Administration
•           Office Managers
•           Finance and accountants
•           Compliance and Bid Managers

The roles required to deliver the 5 year plan can be mapped out and reviewed every year. Having that clarity as a business leader means we can communicate and plan for the future, proactively designing the succession plan in line with the growth plans

While the larger corporate recruiter can offer more opportunity than the typical SME recruiter by the nature of its size, the succession plan is a must have for any size business who recognises that staff  turnover is a reality, businesses evolve organisationally, leadership and management is key to growth, and employee engagement matters and can be positively influenced by a succession plan.

Succession Planning and Talent Management Programmes – what’s the link

Most recruitment businesses invest in developing the team using external or internal trainers, blending face to face or online support with coaching, support and mentoring from the line manager or other experienced colleagues.

If you want to grow your business you’d better grow your team; is an obvious truism. So how does this tie in with succession planning? Well inevitably as business growth (and staff turnover) throws up new roles and new opportunities, if we’ve developed people with the skills and confidence to step up, we create a win-win. They get progression and all that comes with it, you get growth and seamless evolution without getting knocks on productivity.

Let’s give you an example of how the two link. Within The Recruitment Network membership most of our members have strategic and ambitious growth plans. Most also have individuals who have the ambition and potential to do a bigger role. Most know and recognise having strength and depth of management with the right leadership skills team will:

  • Maintain high levels of performance across the team
  • Enable the business leader to operate more strategically
  • Keep key individuals motivated and engaged as their career progresses

We have 3 options in this scenario – we can recruit externally to build that management team, we can promote from within or we can do a blend of both. I’d strongly recommend against the first option for obvious reasons. The second two options make sense and the more we can do the 3rd option the better.

Succession planning requires us to think ahead and understand the roles we’ll have to fill, talent development programmes equip the existing team with the confidence and ability to fill those roles. We recently launched the Trailblazer programme for emerging leaders and it’s proved hugely popular with owner managers and senior decision makers within recruitment businesses because they know that the succession planning without effective talent development won’t work. Equally talent development without succession planning for the future means we can’t offer the team an engaging and clear picture of opportunity. They go hand in hand.

“I’ve been on many development programmes – This is the most engaging, thought provoking and gives you a clear plan about how to take great ideas and put them into action. Inspirational, like minded people sharing years of Recruitment Experience. Jump on board, give yourself this opportunity to be the best version of yourself you can be. What I loved about today was that I can apply the ideas and transform my team’s performance. I’m so excited about my job because of today!” – Trailblazer Member

 

– Find out more about our Trailblazer programme

Why don’t more companies have one in place?

Time and expertise are typical causes with recruitment businesses, particularly those SME’ where managers work on the business and don’t have the inhouse resource to build a succession plan. Equally, they don’t know how or haven’t the internal expertise to make it happen. In next week’s blog we ask (and answer) the question of ‘Internal vs External Succession Planning with the following week covering how to build a great succession plan, then finishing the month looking at what happens when it goes wrong.

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