15 June 2010

What are you on about, Ross?

My editorial in last week’s InSight about the attendance at the RCSA Consultant Forum, generated plenty of positive email traffic for me as well as a phone call from the CEO of one of the ‘big players’ who wasn’t too thrilled about what I had written in that article.

We had a frank and civil 10 minute conversation about some of my comments.

He thought I was being ‘self serving’ and ‘not being very constructive about the issue’. I’ve got no problem with that. In fact, I was flattered that he thought my opinion had enough weight for him to pick up the phone and spend 10 minutes of his time speaking directly with me.

His interpretation of my comments appeared to be that I was accusing the ‘big players’ of not doing their share to support the industry. I didn’t say that in my editorial and that is certainly not what I believe.

I would like to think that long time readers of my material know where I am coming from and have a context for some of my various forthright comments about all manner of things to do with the recruitment sector.

For those people who are reading one of my articles for the first time or as a one-off (like this particular person), I understand how easy it may be to come to the conclusion that my article(s) are self-serving and not constructive.

So for him, and those of you who came in late, I thought it might be helpful to assume nothing and provide a quick summary of my motivation for doing what I do and saying what I say.

Firstly, on the charge of being self-serving, I do plead guilty. I own and operate a recruitment training, coaching and public speaking business. I sustain this business by providing professional development services to recruitment agencies - mostly small businessess and some big businesses.

I also provide some of my services to the RCSA, usually for a fee.

Occasionally I provide my services for free. The RCSA Consultant Forum was such a case. I willingly waived my presenter’s fee because I wanted the event to be as successful as possible (not just financially) for the RCSA and for every attendee so that they could leave the event feeling enthusiastic about what they had learned on the day and eager to attend more RCSA PD events. .

Every week I spend 4 to 5 hours researching and writing InSight which is available for free to whoever wants it. I hold nothing back. Of course I invest this time as a way of promoting myself but my real goal is to dump all of my experiences and lessons from my personal and professional life, out of my head and onto paper for the benefit of others. I give much of my ‘intelligence’ away for free (see http://rossclennett.com/free.html ).

I like to think that I give back more than I receive. That’s what I have always tried to do and I intend to keep doing it until you tell me that I bore you or when I decide to do something else.

Secondly, let me be very clear about my views of the ‘big players’ in the recruitment industry.

They have, and continue to, contribute to the recruitment industry. The RCSA Professional Development Committee has members from Manpower (Nikki Grech) and CMG (Kerry Kelly). Malcolm Jackman was, for the duration of his RCSA National Presidency, also CEO of Manpower.

Incumbent RCSA National President, Steve Shepherd, commenced his term when he was at Kelly and is now employed at Randstad.

The Staffing Council of Australia & New Zealand (SCANZ) is a round table of the CEOs of the 6 biggest recruitment companies in Australia (Hays, Manpower, Skilled, Randstad, CMG, Adecco) with a mission to ‘ensure that the sector’s profile, compliance, standards and benchmarks are the strongest they can be in the global marketplace’.

I acknowledge and applaud all of them. In fact, the RCSA informed me that Chandler Macleod Group sent 4 attendees from their Ready Workforce division to the Sydney Consultant Forum two weeks ago. Good on you CMG and apologies for my mistake in last week’s editorial when I stated that none of the big players had sent a single attendee to the Forum.

I have nothing against the big players. I used to be employed by one (Hays) many years ago and I am grateful for that experience.

The big players were, to some extent, collateral damage in my editorial last week. Not that I regret what I wrote ... not at all. I wrote it with a great sense of frustration for the snail’s pace of professional development in our sector. Judging by the other email responses I received, I think most of you could see that.

The reality is that the RCSA is only as strong as its membership allows it to be. More members mean more funds. More funds mean a greater budget to run more professional development events in more locations. It’s all cause-and-effect and it starts with owners and managers registering themselves and their recruiters regularly into these events.

One-off registrations are better than nothing but the real benefit of improved staff morale and desk-level skill comes from an ingrained company culture of learning and development.

I wrote about this topic in detail for Recruitment Extra in March 2009 http://rossclennett.com/docs/PRESSMEDIA/March2009_001.pdf
so I won’t repeat myself here, other than to say that no matter what direct ‘cost’ there appears to be in paying for attendance at a PD event and having an absent consultant and empty desk for a few hours, there is a far greater indirect cost in lost productivity and high staff turnover due to staff having low skills and low motivation due to a lack or absence of professional learning and development.

Yes, some of my articles are very forthright and sometimes people get their noses out of joint by what I say and/or how I say it and believe my approach is not constructive.

I don’t apologise for that..

Writing polite, well-balanced articles might be nice for some but articles like that generate little or no discussion or debate and therefore nothing changes.

It doesn’t matter to me whether people agree or disagree with me - I just want to get recruiters, owners and managers thinking about what they do and how they do it. I dish it out and I am certainly prepared to take back as much as I give out. At least that means people are thinking and responding which is a great start.

Here’s what I believe:

- The recruitment industry is a very important sector for the efficient functioning of the economy.

- The recruitment sector offers a stimulating, fulfilling and financially rewarding career for those who choose to pursue a career as a recruiter.

- That recruiters need to continually improve their skills and performance to maintain and enhance their relevance to clients and candidates.

- That unless somebody is out there pushing, prodding, cajouling and generally making recruiters think about their skills, motivation and business model then, as a sector, we all risk waking up one day to find ourselves irrelevant.

For better or worse, I am (in Australia and New Zealand, anyway) one person who gives a damn enough to speak out in an attempt to make a difference. In the end we’re all batting for the same team ... aren’t we?

So, that's what I am on about.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Ross. Long time listener, first time caller. I almost always agree with most of what you say. I definitely DO on this occasion. Thanks for keeping us all on our toes.

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  2. Again you are bang on Ross. Ive worked in many different industries all over the world and after being a Professional Recruiter for 4 years, I am gobsmacked at a number of things...

    1. The amount of disfunctional recruitment agencies - their professionalism, process, lack of communication, lack of followthru, and lack of really caring -despite what their corporate brochure sayes and what they parrot to clients and candidates from their script they are inducted with

    2. How untrained and unprofessional the vast majority of recruiters seem to be..they supposedly 'fell' into it a while back...which seems to be one of the main reasons Recruitment as an Industry isnt regarded in the same light as other professional services (legal, finace, accounting) and there is a bad stigma associated with the industry

    And here's the kicker

    3. How high and mighty many Recruiters & their organisations seem to be about preaching to clients on the importance of staff training and development etc etc, yet they/we dont even practice what we preach it seems. The attendance numbers at the event you spoke of is testament to that.

    Ive said it before and I'll say it again; all recruiters and their management should regularly have to go through the recruitment application process (applying for a role, or being contacted about a role) to remind them what it feels like and what NOT to do when they offer their professional recruitment services to the market!

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  3. "Your only true competitive advantage is your willingness to learn faster than your competitors"

    Arie de Geus

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