You know the rule: It’s no secret that the 80/20 rule applies in most recruiting firms. That is, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your recruiters. Everyone knows this to be true, not just of our industry, but also of sales offices in general. However, what happens if you have one big biller in an office with three mediocre producers – and that big biller decides to quit? Maybe he’s decided that he can do it better on his own or that he’s going to work for your competitor across the street.
People Dependent versus Systems Dependent: If your business is people dependent, you’ll be in a heap of trouble. If it is systems dependent, you’ll be able to “grow” a new big biller. In order to have a systems dependent business you must view your business as an integrated system: the system does the work and the people operate the system. You must build your business to run exceptionally well with moderately skilled people as opposed to the most skilled people. So, as a firm owner, you must ask yourself this question; “How do I produce the best results, not with expensive star employees, but with people of average skills”?
You will have to ask yourself new questions such as: “How do we do what we do here? How can we systematically do it better in the hands of ordinary people, rather than extraordinary people?” The answer will be, to a large extent, in the systems that you use rather than in the people who use those systems. That’s not to say that people are not vital – they are – but it is the system that ensures the future health of the business when your key employees leave.
Let’s look at an example from professional football: Let’s say there is a new stud quarterback who is the number one draft pick and has just been picked up by the San Francisco Forty Niners. When he arrives for training camp, his coach will not say “what offensive system would you like us to use?” What that quarterback will hear would be something more like this; “The way we do things here is by perfecting the execution of the west coast offensive system. So, you will be a better quarterback by learning this system and to play for this team, you must learn this system and then express your talent through it.”
So his creativity, improvisation skills and talent are channeled though the system and this makes him a better player. If that quarterback gets hurt or becomes a free agent and leaves the team, they lose his talent but they get to keep the west coast offensive system that helped him to succeed. They can then bring in a new quarterback and “grow” him into a superstar by helping him to also perfect that same system.
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Structure versus constriction: It should be the same in a well running search firm. The idea is that a new recruiter would join your firm and would be able to become a success by learning your system that you’ve documented, bottled and perfected over time. You can and should be flexible with a recruiter’s but you want to have a structure when it comes to process.
Keep in mind is that there is a balance that needs to be struck between a good amount of structure versus an overly constrictive environment. You will have to decide what the right mix is for your firm. Systems can, and should, be as simple as possible.
You don’t want you or your staff to feel constricted by the systems that you implement. The idea is to free up your staff from having to remember each detail and enable them to be more creative and productive. You do want them to feel that you have the road map in hand that will lead them to their destination of better production and a bigger paycheck. Having this map in place will make navigating the placement process easier for your employees and will also enable you as the owner to sleep better at night.