How I Transitioned Off of My Practice

As promised, I will occasionally ask individuals from both inside and outside Kaye/Bassman to guest write this column. This month’s Next Level column is written by Jeff Wittenberg. Jeff joined Kaye/Bassman almost a decade ago. He began as a junior recruiter on a team and quickly rose to become a practice partner. He eventually took over the entire practice once his partner retired. Jeff began aggressively growing the team and teaching others to do what he had been doing. He gradually outsourced his way out of a job! The year he turned his practice over to his team, they had produced over $1.7 million!

There were five others with varying levels of responsibility who only a few years before had done less than one-third of that amount! He has since left his practice and is a full-time leader at Kaye/Bassman and coach for Next Level Recruiting Training. His primary role is to help others build whatever-size teams they want and help those on their teams to grow as well. This topic has been one of our most frequently asked about. Enjoy.

About three years ago, Jeff Kaye asked me if I was ready to consider transitioning off of my practice and into a full-time corporate leadership role working with the other teams in the firm to help them achieve their goals. While flattered, I told him I wasn’t quite ready to exchange my uniform as a player for that of a coach. Well, like any good recruiter, he didn’t take no for an answer. Before I knew it, I found myself in a player/coach role, balancing time between developing my practice ($1.7 million in revenue in 2006) and helping others develop theirs while simultaneously working toward weaning myself completely off of my practice. Oh, and did I mention doing it over a three-year time frame without a drop in personal practice revenue.

So how did I do it? Well, first let me save you the time in looking for a “book for dummies” on how to do it because it doesn’t exist (trust me, I checked). My hope is that the following will serve as a mini version on how it could be done. With that said, let’s dive in.

Step 1: Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for everything you do on your practice

– This will ensure that the consistency and quality you established continues once you transition off of the practice.

– Standardize all of your forms (candidate data sheet/profiles, job order, closing, etc.).

– Standardize how everyone uses your contact management software/database (coding records, entering data, saving records, etc.).

– Develop standard reports for tracking production and performance.

– Establish a team meeting schedule and format.

Step 2: Identify and groom someone(s) to backfill your “production” role

Make sure the individual(s) has not only the desire but also the skills (or has the potential to develop the skills) to successfully handle the entire placement process.

Step 3: Outsource portions of the placement process gradually until that person(s) is handling the process

You might start with having them:

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– Recruit on your positions, then
– Schedule interviews, then
– Prep candidates for interviews, then
– Present candidates to clients, then
– Prep clients for interviews, then
– Conduct reference checks, then
– Close clients/candidates on offer/acceptance and set start date, then
– Prep candidate for resignation, then
– Account manage that client, then
– Market to develop new client relationships.

It’s important to note that throughout this process of outsourcing, you are closely “shadowing” them until such time as you’re confident that they’re being effective.

Step 4: Identify and groom someone(s) to backfill your “leadership” role

This isn’t easy because this person(s) must have not only the credibility as a producer (as evidenced by successfully and repeatedly completing the placement process) but also the team’s trust to lead them, provide them with a vision/ mission, inspire them to achieve the vision/mission, coach them to improve their personal production, and develop them into becoming leaders them-selves someday. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and willingness on your part to push change at a rate that can be absorbed by everyone on the practice.

Step 5: Step aside and watch them soar

This definitely isn’t as easy as it sounds because we have two psychologies working against us. The first is that of a control-freak producer who thinks no one can manage the placement process as well as he can. The second is the emotional attachment you have to your practice, much like the one you have to your child. Regarding the first, you just might be right that no one can do it as well as you can. They just might be able to do it better. As for the second, just remember that no matter how independent and old your child or practice becomes, it’ll always be your baby to watch grow beyond its wildest dreams.

As with every Next Level coaching tip, what I described above is “a” way, not “the” way, and the “right” steps are the ones that enable you to achieve what it is that you want. Use the five steps above as a guide to help you determine what the right steps, in the right order, and at the right pace, are for you. Said differently by the teachings of Buddha, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense.” Lastly, always remember that it’s about the journey of discovery, not the destination. I wish you safe travels!

Jeff Kaye is president and CEO of Kaye/Bassman International and Next Level Recruiting Training. This former Management Recruiter National Recruiter of the year has helped build the largest single-site search firm in the country, with annual search revenue in excess of $18 million. His firm has won national awards for philanthropy and workplace flexibility and also was named the best company to work for in the state of Texas in 2006 and 2007. Kaye/ Bassman has retained over 30 search professionals whose annual production exceeds $400,000. The same training that helped build this successful firm is now available through Next Level Recruiting Training. They are making a series of DVDs for training. The first series was about the candidate side, and the four hours were dedicated to marketing. The new series, about the client side, is dedicated to marketing, effective search assignments, and fee clearing. It is over seven hours in length. To learn how to take your practice and business to the NEXT LEVEL, please visit to view their product and service offerings. You can also email Jeff a thought or question at


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