Recently, while attending a Board Meeting at one of my clients, we were discussing their strategic plan and the associated timetable for its accomplishment. In order to drive home his point, the president of this company quoted something I had said to him several years ago. He reminded the senior managers that I had stated:
“Missing your time lines is a lost opportunity to feel good about yourself.”
Hearing my words parroted back to me, presented an opportunity to pause and reflect. I remembered the many times in my early career when I did not feel good about how I was fulfilling my role in this business and what I did to change those negative feelings into a positive ones. Perhaps many of you have experienced a similar metamorphosis.
From observing thousands of recruiters and staffing professionals over the last thirty plus years, I have validated the following:
1. Feeling good about yourself has much to do with your level of confidence.
2. Your level of confidence is dependent to a large extent on your functional competence.
3. Your functional competence is dependent on the proper development of the appropriate skill sets necessary to be successful in this business.
Using these three points as a backdrop, consider the times that you have not felt good about yourself in this business. In considering these times, ask yourself whether or not they were the result of a competence confidence vacuum? Some examples may include:
Knowing you are working on a poorly qualified job order/search assignment and yet reluctant or afraid to discuss the details of the problem with your client. In essence you have chosen to work on a bad piece of business rather than continuing a consistent marketing effort that could produce a well-qualified order/search assignment.
Signing one-sided client agreements that require you to substantially reduce your fee without a corresponding concession from the client. Your excuse being, “everyone else is doing it,” or at least that is what the client has told you. You allowed yourself to be commoditized by the client.
The working relationship you have with your clients imbues you with little control of the process. Generally, the earmarks of these relationships require you to submit resumes to HR for further screening while having limited or no access to the decision maker. Additionally, you are treated with little respect (if any at all) and confronted with a hostile attitude that reflects the client’s view that you are nothing more than a necessary evil. Time lines, if ever established, are rarely met and there is all but a total lack of timely response to your efforts at communication both verbal and written.
Poor follow-through from your candidates and recruits. They are not returning your calls in a timely manner, not submitting their paperwork as agreed upon, and generally, not fulfilling their agreed upon role in the process. Nevertheless, you continue to work with them in the misguided belief that something good will result from this deeply flawed relationship.
These are only a sampling of the circumstances you may be confronting that prevent the development of good feelings. Are they the result of a lack of confidence on your part? If so, consider Dr. Phil’s trademark question:
“How’s that working for you?”
If it’s not “working for you” and you do not feel good about yourself in this business, go back and review the three points listed above. If you develop your skill sets, establish your competence, and build your confidence, your reality will create continual opportunities to feel good about yourself. Examples include:
Working only on job orders/search assignments that meet YOUR standards for good business. The selection criteria are truly job related, your contact is the primary decision maker, the organization and position are structured in a manner that makes them attractive to a perspective employee, and there is a mirrored commitment to realistic timelines and functional processes.
You have a right and responsibility to properly select the business on which you work.
Hold everyone involved, including yourself, to the agreed upon commitments. No commitment, no involvement. Mutual accountability is the key to working effectively with others. “When a group of people holds itself collectively accountable, it’s a team.” Realize this is not a business you can do in isolation. You need your clients and candidates, who, together with you, must function effectively as a team.
Concentrate on the long-term impact of your work. Hold yourself to a minimum standard on every deal. That standard is best-reflected six months after the deal has been completed when your client and placed candidate answer “yes” to the following question:
“If I had it to do over again,would I do it the same way.”
Finally, do not allow yourself to be held hostage by your clients or candidates. The best way of avoiding this is to work from want and not from need. A needy person is easily manipulated and controlled by others. However, if you work from want, wanting to do your best while fully utilizing the available resources, your approach will reflect an uncompromising commitment to creating positive outcomes for everyone involved.
Feeling good about yourself is what this business is all about. However, only you can create this reality by committing to accept nothing but your best effort in learning and executing your trade. At the end of the day, ask yourself this question:
“Does today reflect my best work?”
If you can consistently answer with a positive response, you WILL feel good about yourself. And, as a by-product, you WILL be successful in this business both professionally and financially.
As always, if you have questions or comments, just let me know. Your contacts are always welcome.