Ask Barb

Q. My Top Producer has been with me for over six years.   Her work habits are progressively getting worse, and now her negative attitude is adversely affecting my newer recruiters who are showing promise.  How do I handle my top producer? Shirley P – San Antonio, TX

A. This is never an easy scenario for an owner or manager to face.  We all realize the value of a top producer who positively impacts our bottom line.  You did, however, mention two areas of concern:  “Her work habits are progressively getting worse” and “Her negative attitude.”  I’ve often said one person can not MAKE a team, but one negative person can BREAK your team.

It is time to sit down with your top producer and find out the reasons behind the change in behavior.  You need to address the “negative attitude” head on.  I refer to negative individuals as the person who can “suck the oxygen out of the room” the minute they arrive.

As an owner, you have two choices:

1.    Identify your top producer’s issues and help her solve them.
2.    Put your top producer on indefinite probation until you see improved
work habits and attitude.  This often leads to this individual either quitting or getting fired.

If this top producer does leave, your current team will be compelled to make up the difference in production.  Your current team has been wondering why you were allowing this situation to continue.  When you do deal with the situation, you will have renewed level of enthusiasm and commitment, in your office.

You never want to feel you are being held hostage by a top producer.  That is why it is so vitally important to have systems in your office that track all activities and ensure that at least “two” recruiters in your office have a working relationship with every client.

Q. We recently added two new hires and they are just not cooperating.  My manager has done everything in her power to motivate them but, at this point, is extremely frustrated. Both of these new hires have solid sales experience and great potential, but my manager feels they are both more trouble than they are worth.  I personally don’t want to fire them now that they have started to produce.  How can I teach my manager to be more tolerant? Casey R – Savannah, GA

A. I’m basically siding with your manager in this situation.  Obviously, this person earned your trust when you promoted them into management with your company.    Your manager is telling you these new hires are not cooperative, not motivated and more trouble than they are worth.   I have to wonder what their replacements could produce for you if they were cooperative and motivated.  Normally new hires are on their best behavior their first few months of employment.  This situation will only get worse if you don’t solve it soon.  You should back your manager and either put these individuals on probation or fire them!

Q. We just hired three new recruiters and one of our new hires is driving me crazy.  I have twelve years of experience and I don’t have time to repeat things to her ten times before she grasps them.   She’s even told us it takes several times before she remembers what she’s learned.  I think that’s ridiculous so I decided to ignore her and now I’m being accused of not being a team player by my owner.  I’m the top producer here and feel they should be more concerned about me than a new hire. Judy S – Toronto, CA

A. I can understand your frustration.  The only mistake you made was your decision to ignore her, rather than discuss your frustrations with either your manager or owner.  If your owner or manager was not aware of this situation, you can see how this would negatively reflect your willingness to help a new hire.

Owners and Managers do value their top producers, but it is very important to build a successful team of top producers.  Set up a meeting with your owner, explain the situation and offer suggestions that will “solve” the current problem with this new hire.

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It is not that your owner is not “concerned” about you. They are merely trying to build a strong team to back you up!

Q. I have a client that I’ve worked with forever.  They trust my opinion and, of course, I protect this account at all costs.  This is the top account in my office.  I’m a working owner and don’t want to jeopardize my established relationship with this client.  The recruiters in my office want to work directly with this client, especially in my absence.  My client wants to only deal with me, what should I do?

A. It is important that two individuals work with every client in your office.  This is important for a few reasons:

1.    If you are not in – you have a back up who can service this client because they have been kept “in the loop” on the needs of this company.
2.    If you have a recruiter leave, there is another established relationship in your office.
3.    The perception to your client is that you are providing them with the highest level of customer service by having two individuals assigned to them.
4.    You could spend more time working ON your business if you had a backup for all your clients.

If you discuss how this arrangement will BENEFIT your client, they will cooperate.  This will not jeopardize your established relationships with this client, it will solidify this relationship.    It’s all in the presentation of this additional contact.  If you work a local market, take this individual on a client visit, explain how you hand selected this person based on their talent and tenure with your firm.

I also have to ask you a question – Does your client only want to deal with – or do you only want to deal with this client?  If you ARE your business, you greatly limit your ability to grow your business and create the lifestyle you deserve.

Barbara Bruno, CPC is one of the leading Recruiting/HR Training Professional today with thirty years of experience in the “trenches.” If you want to receive a FREE training article from Barb each week and emails announcing her two FREE monthly teleconferences , sign up for her popular NO BS Newsletter at Barb is also the author of the Top Producer Tutor, the first step by step 80 day online training program that would take training OFF YOUR DESK forever.  Visit You can still purchase an UNLIMITED LICENSE for the life of your company.  VERSION 2.0 IS NOW RELEASED.  The UNLIMITED LICENSES will soon be GONE! If you wish to personally correspond with Barb, please email her at

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS, is one of the most trusted experts, speakers, and trainers in the Staffing and Recruiting Professions. If you want to receive FREE training articles from Barb, sign up for her NO BS Newsletter! Barb has spent the last twenty years focused on helping Owners, Managers, and Recruiters increase their sales, profits, and income.

Her Top Producer Tutor web-based training program jumps-starts new hires and takes experienced recruiters to their next level of production. Barb's cutting-edge program, Happy Candidates, provides you with a Customized Career Portal in less than 10 minutes. Happy Candidates allows you to help the 95% of candidates you don?t place and eliminates the greatest time waster in your business.

If you'd like to contact Barb, call (219) 663-9609 or email


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