Money is a sticky subject. At work, there are written and unwritten contracts between employer and employee – “do this and you’ll get your salary, do this and you’ll get your bonus.” There is a grudging understanding that there has to be a worthwhile give and take for this money to change hands. That, as they say, is business.
Recruitment is an industry where, like it or not, activity and income are intimately linked. A consultant places a candidate and earns the company the commission fee – a proportion of which becomes their “bonus” (generally speaking). Because this link is so strong, you would think that people are blindly driven to higher levels of activity in search of more cash.
While activity is important, that isn’t what sets the top performers apart. As the owner of a recruitment company, I have also learnt that it isn’t the only thing that should be rewarded. The cruel nature of recruitment means that you can try your best for a candidate, put your heart and soul into their job search, only (for multiple reasons) to fail at the last hurdle.
I don’t want you to get your violins out – I know that recruiters are perceived as money-grabbing thieves, but I would just like to say that the nature of how our industry rewards recruiters is to blame for the few bad eggs that tarnish our name. For the lazy operators out there, bulk sending CVs, waiting for a “bite” and then collecting the fee is far too tempting. This, however, is unsustainable.
There is so much more to genuinely market-leading recruitment than this - consultants need to be recognised for the work they put into every assignment, whether it resulted in a placement or not. It is up to the owners of the recruitment companies to create their own culture of recognition – this will be the true barometer of their success.
The key for me lies in letting people know that you recognise that they have done a good job. “Good” for me means that they have done everything they can in a certain situation to serve their clients and candidates. It may not result in any money changing hands, but much of the time, that will be the case. The least that I can do is let them know that I value their work.
The power of “well done” is underrated. That warm feeling that you have been noticed gives you the strength to carry on. If there are enough of those warm feelings, it is almost inevitable that the money will come. You feel that you are on the right track and are given that little extra motivational push for next time. It is often the case that failures could so easily have been successes – this is so true for recruitment. Getting praise when you “fail” should be a far more common practice. It means that your boss believes that you will make it next time.
Therefore, I believe in the power of positivity in a reward culture. You can reward teams for good performance. An individual may not have contributed to the team as much this time, but you can be sure that they will pull out the stops.