Article Two: In Pursuit of Brilliance
Part Three by Dean Gollings


This final article on the theme of Quality Control focuses on the most important factor of all... the individuals who make up the team. 

It doesn’t matter if you have all the best tools, training, techniques, marketing budget, and brand in the world. If the consultants lack the right personal qualities, it just isn’t going to happen.

So how good are the members of your team – compared to your competitors? If you want to build a great revenue stream you need stars and potential stars. They are not difficult to spot.

You are all familiar with the traits of a top performer – intelligence, drive, great attitude, presence, determination, spark, self-confidence etc etc. You can identify these qualities a mile off. These people have an aura. They make an immediate impact. They will very quickly gain the respect of every candidate and client they meet. So why are there so many people in the industry who are so obviously, well, ordinary? So obviously unsuited to the demands of the job. Even their cvs scream out “I have always been average at everything.” If someone has spent their entire life as an also-ran, why would they suddenly become great at one of the most demanding jobs you can imagine?

In my experience (all of it in the professional/managerial sector), I have yet to witness one of life’s mid-rankers transform themselves into a brilliant consultant. They always revert to type. 

We have all made mistakes when hiring consultants. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. But if you keep getting it wrong, you need to raise the bar. What percentage of your current team, if they left, would break your heart? If it’s more than 10% then something is badly wrong. How hard is it to get into your firm? Are you hiring your competitors cast-offs? Why bother? It’s a short cut to mediocrity. Sooner or later you will either have to get rid of them, or they will move on to another firm having wasted a load of your time. Crucially, these characters also represent a massive lost opportunity cost. 

Your aim should be grow rapidly and at the same time improve the quality of everything and everyone associated with you – starting with your consultants. Good consultants can attract other good consultants. If you start hiring poor consultants, your existing good ones will wonder what on earth is going on. 

The majority of star consultants I have worked with have been home grown. That is to say, had no previous recruitment experience. A couple of years ago I worked with a firm who grew organically from 20 to 80 consultants in 2 years. Only 3 of the new consultants came from a recruitment background. The rest were 20% raw grads, 70% candidates from the database, 10% random direct applicants with some selling experience. 85% went on to become very good or excellent.15% didn’t work out and returned to their previous career inside 3 months – ie at no major loss to them or my client.

My general view is that there is not enough effort being made to seek out, hire and develop real talent. Too many take the lazy way and rely on the rec to rec sector to do the work for them. Try harder to find them yourself.

Here is some advice about identifying and hiring new talent:

* Make everyone in the organization responsible for identifying potential recruitment consultants 

* Offer a reward system

* Make sure everyone knows exactly what you are looking for.

* Every time a candidate is being interviewed, have the thought “Are you good enough to work for us?” at the forefront of your mind

* Everyone should assess friends, family, ex colleagues, acquaintances, random strangers, everyone you meet, as potential consultants. 

* Ask your candidates if they know anyone who might be up to the job.

* Many of the best consultants play competitive sport. Look at sports clubs as a potential source of talent. Why not put a notice up at your club?

* Have a rigorous selection process. Make your firm hard to get into. Get a reputation for being highly selective.

* Be patient. Do not compromise. Far better to have a smaller team of high billers than a larger team of average billers, (i.e. higher morale, lower staff turnover, much easier to manage etc).

* Beware of those who want to come into recruitment because “I want to work with people” or “I like working with people”. Beware also of those who are also considering a career in HR (unless you are an HR recruiter, and even then....)

* Do not hire people just because they are nice. It will end in tears.

* Look for real evidence of brains, steel, guts, determination, a competitive spirit, commercialism, leadership, presence, likeability, drive, confidence, work ethic, etc. Hire potential stars and nothing else.

These people are out there. Go and get them. Show them how to do the job spectacularly well and watch your firm destroy the competition.

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