Recruiting is, by nature, a very competitive industry. We face competition from other firms that specialize in our niche. We compete against our own clients at times to source the perfect candidate. And unlike most other industries, we even compete within our own teams for the highest paycheck, instead of working together. It is a fact that the vast majority of recruiters work on a contingency basis and most recruiters have a very competitive and dominate nature. This combination is what makes a top recruiter successful, but did you ever stop to think this combination is also what keeps our teams from being successful?
Managing recruiter group dynamics can be very challenging. It is so challenging that many recruitment firm owners allow each recruiter to manage their own desk and operate as a single entity under the umbrella of the firm’s name. Using this structure is almost like housing 10 different recruiting companies in the same office. While this allows the competitive nature of the individual motivate the others in the company to out perform one another, it doesn’t foster longevity in the team. No one likes being second best, and second best is still profitable to the company. In order to keep our second tier of recruiters motivated and on the team, we have to do a little extra work to ensure they don’t feel as if they need to seek a company where they can be the best.
A few tricks and tips for building a cohesive recruiter group dynamic:
- Hold team meetings. Most of us do this already, but instead of just having a managing partner go over openings and new clients, encourage team members to ask for advice and discuss recent problems they encountered. Resist the urge to lead, and let the others on the team give suggestions for overcoming challenges. Facilitate the discussion by asking how top producers would approach particular scenarios. For example, “Joe, where do YOU look for Java developers? Does anyone know some great Java developers at XYZ big company?” Leave your productivity training and quota fulfillment talks for one-on-one sessions – think of team meetings more like creative brainstorming sessions.
- Set Team Goals. Instead of rewarding only the recruiter on your team that produces the most, set team goals. Avoid a “total number of placements” type goal, and instead set goals of each team member closing a set number of placements or new account contracts. Set a group reward, such as a catered lunch, a half-day paid vacation, or picking up the tab for the group at a nice restaurant. This will motivate the top performers to take a few minutes to help out the newer members of the team for the good of the group’s goals. 99% of compensation and perks should always remain individual, but keep that 1% to draw the team together.
- Start a mentor program in your company. Take your top performers and give them a percentage of the placement incentive for taking one of the junior recruiters under their wing during an assignment. When your top producers have a vested interest in the success of newer team members, the group will come together as it grows.
- Don’t show favoritism. It’s difficult not to play favorites to the team members that are most profitable, but you must remember even your most profitable team members were rookies at one point. Make it a point to spend an equal amount of time at the desks of each of your team members. When everyone feels equally important, inter-office disputes will magically ease up.
- The manager is the glue that binds the team together. To create a great team dynamic, the group needs an engaged and active manager. Most recruiters agree that the best managers are “in the trenches” with them. Instead of simply driving productivity, make sure that you (or the manager) works side-by-side with the recruiters for at least a portion of every day. A hard-working, engaged and fair manager can serve to unite the team and drive success.
The most successful recruiting firms have very strong group dynamics that leverage the talents of every one in their organization. Great individual performance is important; however, to truly scale a recruitment organization, companies need to drive both efficiencies and a positive culture within their groups of recruiters.
If you think back on your most successful year in recruiting, you will most likely remember being paired with great staff and having lots of fun. What do you think caused this environment to “happen?” What makes a recruiting team inspire success?