“I got nothing out of your program,” he told me after my presentation. It was a speaker’s worst nightmare.
Rats, I thought to myself. Maybe he has a point. Let me find out what he’s talking about. “Tell me why you say that,” I said.
“My people are all veterans. They’ve been in this business longer than dirt. They were hoping they could get some new ideas on how to close more deals from you and everything you said on the stage this afternoon were things we’ve heard before.”
“Bob,” I respectfully replied, “There are no new ideas. Everything your people learned in their first twelve months of the business on how to make a placement is enough for them to reach their full potential. If they are not achieving it, the reason for that is not because of a lack of knowledge. It’s a lack of application of that knowledge, and the focus of my talk was how to actually integrate those basics into your desk everyday, especially for veterans who have lost their edge and can admit that they don’t know it all.”
He considered what I said and we talked some more and he agreed with me. I tried not to make my reasoning sound like a cop-out, but directed him to look more at performance issues related to habits of discipline, persuasion skills, self-esteem, call reluctance and CEO-fear that exists within his tenured veterans. I also encouraged him to really get them to admit they don’t know it all, because once they can admit that, then their subconscious mind will automatically search for the solutions that will ameliorate their problems.
Apparently it wasn’t in the knowledge of how to make a placement, so what is keeping them from improving must be something else. I told him that, when I speak to groups of tenured search veterans, I’ll go over the basics with them but I’ll do it in a way they’ve never heard before, hoping to shed some light on a particular part of the process that has been neglected or needs to be polished. Some people like the fact that I stick to the basics and some people won’t book me because of it. But there is no new knowledge under the sun; just a new way to present the same old principles that we have all grown to love and get bored with.
All of us have our own issues and our own reasons why we don’t achieve our peak potential. There are seven categories to consider where your own deficits might lie. But before you go there, ask yourself these five questions in your journal:
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- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses and deficits?
- How can I exploit and capitalize my strengths?
- How can I overcome my deficits?
- How can I use my deficits to my advantage?
Start becoming aware of your strengths and shortcomings. This business is a relationship business, but the first and most important relationship is the one that you have with yourself. When you finally get your ego out of the way (impossible for a few in our business) then you start reaching peak performance levels. When you finally can admit to someone other than yourself and to yourself that you can still learn a few things, then you’ll start to learn them.
The seven deficit categories of our industry include:
- Knowledge of the placement process.
- Knowledge ofical sales and principles of influence.
- Knowledge of relationship development, including communication skills.
- Self-esteem and self-concept; the feelings of deserving to win.
- Strategy and goal-setting.
- Habits, including time management.
- Call reluctance.
In your next group training meeting, give yourself an honest grade in each of these areas. Identify your greatest strength and discuss with your colleagues how you can exploit that strength on your desk. Identify your greatest deficit from the seven categories and tell your team the five action steps that you will take to overcome that deficit. Tell them when you will finish taking those five steps and have a colleague hold you accountable.
In our business you cannot hide from poor performance. Because of this, it is easy to look for the excuse of why we are not performing. The economy. The database. The bad clients. The candidates. The boss or the system. But the reality is that you are completely in control of your success in the search business, and the sooner you admit that you don’t know it all and that you are the captain of your own ship, then the sooner you’ll find the path that you need to take to uncover the buried treasure that you deserve to win.