I'm not known for my analogies and yet I've used one for the title of this blog, and here I am about to use another one before the article has even started. This one comes from the world of Formula One, here goes, you can have the fastest car in race one, but if you don't upgrade and modify throughout the season, you will have the slowest car for race 20.
Where am I going with this?
Well, I suppose I'm asking you the question; whether you are a Team Lead, Billing Manager, Director or Business Owner, which analogy represents you best in terms of how you or your business succeeds?
Most of you would have heard the saying ‘If it's not broken don't fix it', the F1 analogy may not be so familiar to you. But they both represent different ways of working, polar opposites in fact – consistency versus change. You can't do both.
Or can you?
My opinion is that to succeed in today's market; you need to be; you need to find a way to do both. Be consistent, but make changes at the same time. Easier said than done, but hopefully, this will get you thinking.
There's a lot of good to be said about the first analogy. If the way you work is proving successful, then why change it? But you can also be blinded by this way of working, self-delusional almost. People will judge how successful they are on different criteria, not just how much money or profit they make in a year. Every business will have a process and ‘their way' of doing things. And if just one of those processes turns out to be successful, it's easy to lie and convince yourself things are just ‘going through a rough patch' if the overall sales figures aren't there. It must be ‘bad luck' or ‘just one of those things' if it starts to fail, not because it's time for a change.
And there's a lot of risk in the second one, the next idea you have could prove to be damaging, fatal possibly. For example, you want to start a new division, because you've seen a trend in the market. And you decide the best person for the job would be your current top biller. You take them out of the team they are in and get them to head it up. It may work yes, but what if they fail?
Change is a good thing, but when done for the sake of it, or because ‘everybody is doing it' can cause a whole new world of problems.
But is it the risk-takers that are changing the way Recruitment is done?
Recruitment has definitely changed over the last year or so, almost every aspect of it. People are trying new things, whether it's using social media to gain new business, to using video platforms to interview and represent candidates to clients. There are definitely businesses out there that were unknown two years ago who have now leapfrogged to the front because they decided to do something different or spotted a gap their competitors didn't.
Only time will tell if they last.
It's hard to admit when you are wrong and when things are not working, but it's also pretty damn scary to try something new that could damage your team or business.
So, what's the answer?
Self-awareness is one of them, not being blinded by your self-arrogance that what you are doing will work ‘because it always has'. Planning is another, don't just jump headfirst into something because you see it working for someone else. They probably sat down and planned it. They probably also tried other things that failed before landing on the one that works.
Don't be afraid to change but don't put it all on red. Be open to ideas from your teams; they may actually know more than you, especially if you are higher up in the business where your time is taken up by meetings and paperwork. Your staff or teams are the ones out there in the industry day-to-day, listen to what they have to say, don't rubbish their ideas because you didn't think of it, or because what you already do is (kind of) working.
The companies that rely on the same processes and do not start to input change, even on a small scale, no matter how successful they are currently, will be that car at race 20 – left behind. Things are changing. The boiler rooms of the 80's and 90's are dying out; the culture of Recruitment is changing. Even the suits and shiny shoes are on their way out. Micro-management no longer works. What people want out of life has changed, their motivations have changed, your typical Recruiter has changed.
Which means businesses need to change with them. There is a whole new generation coming through now, and they are the ones affecting change. Even down to environment and culture, everyone wants flexibility and variety. Not everything will work for everyone, but the time has come to let go of some of your legacy processes.
I believe the secret is in the F1 analogy, yes, the car has to be upgraded and modified throughout the season, but what doesn't change (generally) is the driver and the team around him. The car is your business, it needs to change to keep up or ahead, but it's the driver and engineers that make that happen. It doesn't matter how good the car is if the driver is rubbish and vice versa. The upgrades to that car are tested and updated, tested and updated, tested and updated. It is ongoing; the car is never finished.
So, to be consistently successful, you need to implement change. The consistency will come from your teams; they will drive your business forward. But you also need to hire the people that will bring ideas to the table and listen to them when they do. Your way may not be the right way just because it's worked so far. You don't need to try too hard or be too quirky either; change doesn't mean going over the top and ripping up the rule book completely. It's about interpreting the rules to get the best out of your car.
Plan, test, modify, repeat.
Creator of The Recruiter Index, an industry blog and advisory site.
I have spent 11 years in Recruitment, working permanent and contract in the UK as well as parts of Europe such as Scandinavia and Dach. Most of my experience has been in management, both hands-on and non-billing.