The position of billing manager or team leader in any recruitment company can often feel like the toughest job in the world.
A recruiter joins a company and because she bills well and shows an aptitude to help and train other recruiters she is promoted to manage a team. Soon she has three to four recruitment consultants within her group. The team are always asking her questions and she is always answering them. Her personal billing / revenue generation starts to suffer. The Director/owner of the recruitment company asks the manager “Why?” and her reply is “because the people in my team are taking up all my time.”
Sounding familiar? Believe me I hear this story in almost every recruitment office I go in to train and every office I ever worked in as a recruiter. I hear owners and directors of recruitment companies bitching and moaning because the superstar recruiter who used to make such a massive contribution in revenue has fallen from grace and nobody else in the team seems capable of replacing the lost billing. I hear managers and team leaders harping on about how little time they now have and how they feel unfilled.
What’s the solution? The recruitment manager’s priority needs to change. I know it sounds like a contradiction but personal revenue generation (or billings) is the number one priority for a team leader. I can hear recruitment managers across the globe screaming at me “If I’m a manager of a team, why is my personal billing so important?”
The answer is simply that you set an example for the other recruiters in your team. And your job first and foremost is to lead by example.
Supporting team members and the counselling aspect of the job is exaggerated in importance usually by recruiters who are always asking questions and by managers who always answer them. You do not help your team members or support them properly by answering every question they throw at you. They either know the answers or should be finding the answers themselves.
As a recruiting manager if your team revenue falls you need to refocus on your own personal billing. When your billing recovers, miraculously the whole team will improve. Even team morale will get a boost because “our manager bills too!” It is detrimental for morale when you tell them “make 75-100 new business calls today and you only made 10. Or when you say “get five client candidate interviews this week” but you only got one last week. Or when you demand|£15k this month and the last time you billed it was £5k and it was over four months ago!
But how do you find the time to bill and make money? You can’t find it you have to make the time. You HAVE to set aside at least four hours EVERY day when you are there present amongst the team but not available to deal with their personal issues. You are there to recruit and make money! It might sound a bit harsh or mean but it isn’t. You see when the recruitment manager is billing, the recruiters are billing and when everybody is billing everybody ishappy. And when everybody is happy then that’s probably the best environment you could ever wish for in any recruitment company.
A popular Chinese proverb tells us ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime!’
By answering a recruiters question you feed him for a day or at least until the next question. Teach him the benefit of discovering his own answers and you empower him to feed himself for the rest of his lifetime.
The next time a junior team member comes to you saying they have a problem or question, instead of giving them a solution ask them “How do you think you can overcome this?” or “What solutions have you considered”? If they don’t come with solutions send them away to think about some. If they answer with solutions that you know won’t work ask them “What other solutions COULD or MIGHT work?” Keep practising this, it’s hard at first because it will always be quicker to give them the solution but persevere because it will pay off in the end. Recruiters will stop coming to you as often and when they do they will have thought about some possible solutions before interrupting you.
Remind your teams that you have a personal billing target to achieve this week/month/year and unless they are willing to supplement your income or pay your mortgage they must permit you the space and time to operate your own desk. Get into the daily habit of asking each team member for their personal objectives for each day in a morning team meeting. Ask them what help they need from you in order to achieve those objectives. Remember to check how well they did against those objectives the following day. Check in with the team at lunchtime and at the end of each day but otherwise this one discipline will enable you to work your own desk between 10am and 5pm without unnecessary interruption. Remind recruiters in your team that of course you are always available to them “for emergencies only”. You can still keep your eyes and ears open during the day, spotting opportunities to coach on the run, praise good performance and add value wherever you can but ALWAYS on your time schedule and when you CHOOSE to rather than being drawn in by others.