Coaching the recruitment managers of the future

Coaching the recruitment managers of the future

I’m delighted this week to be partnering with a national training provider to launch a new, higher-level management qualification for the recruitment sector.

Solvo Vir, based near Manchester, has a successful track record of delivering employee training programmes within organisations, upskilling their new and existing staff. Working closely with the team of trainers at Solvo vir, I will be leading workshops in Manchester and London. The icing on the cake is that businesses will be able to access funding to pay for all or part of the training.

The new ILM-accredited management training will be looking at management theory, skills and processes through the lens of a manager in the recruitment industry, with industry-relevant examples, tasks and scenarios. We believe this is a first for the industry and in such a competitive sector, for this to be very well-subscribed.

Whilst any good management coach will have deep understanding of management theories and can bring to bear examples from their own management experience, few would understand, for example, the complexities of corporate resourcing and constructing a high return client! Working closely with Solvo Vir’s own management trainers and assessors, I will be bringing real life examples of management in the recruitment industry into the training sessions.

How can business get funding for this training?

The management training course for recruiters is being offered under the banner of apprenticeship training, effectively integrating study with ‘on the job’ learning. The government approved funding for recruitment industry qualifications in December 2017, meaning that organisations which are now subject to the Apprenticeship Levy can use those funds to pay for the training. Smaller businesses can access substantial government funding to cover the majority of the cost.

If you would like to know more or are interested feel free to contact myself Ian Knowlson on 07552 555858 or Dominic Abubakar at Solvo Vir on 0330 200539140

The ILM Level 5 Management Qualification for Recruiters will be running in London and Manchester starting April 2018.


Tips on scaling up your recruitment business (part two)

Tips on Scaling up your Recruitment Business (part two)


The second biggest challenge recruitment business owners experience is when they decide to appoint a manager and relinquish direct control of their sales team.

This can be a challenging and extremely stressful time, like leaving someone else to bring up one of your children. Many of us who have gone through this process are keen to not be controlling like the managers we have worked for in the past and give our new appointees the freedom to manage in their own style but at the same time if the sales go backwards this can be very worrying.

Typically many directors and business owners fail at their first attempt at this.

Often this is because the new manager has not been prepared for the role. They have received no training and frequently there is an assumption on the part of the owner/director that if the owner could do it then the manager can too.

This is the most common mistake I see as a coach. Sadly this is rarely the case, as often the new manager does not have the same abilities, drive, passion and commitment to the role as the owner/director.

In addition owners and directors do not recognize that their role has changed as well. They have a tendency to step back totally from running the business without properly preparing their manager.

The first step to resolving this situation is to understand that your role as the owner/director has changed from being the team manager of business to being a coach yourself. Like modern sport managers who have themselves become coaches, Warren Gatland, Eddie Jones, Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Jorgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are all coaches first and foremost and you too must be a coach too.

You may find it helpful to accept that your role is to guide your new protégé through their first few months. They are likely to be very inexperienced and do not know all the challenges of managing your business. Very often they do not initially think like a manager but as a consultant. They too make the mistake of assuming their consultants think and see the world like they do. So everyone is learning.

As the owner/director you still need to keep a handle on the businesses KPIs but instead of intervening directly you have to work with your manager to make the corrective actions. It may help to have them analyse the KPIs themselves and come to you with the conclusions so you together can decide what challenges need addressing and discuss a corrective action plan.

Often I run workshops with newly appointed managers and directors where we have the managers’ review the key performance figures of the business. In the most recent workshop managers and team leaders came to the session with the following data:

Best Quarter Ever (X date till Y date) Last Quarter Last 30 Days
CV Sends
Total Sales £
Average Fee £


By making the comparisons themselves prior to the session, in every case the managers were able to self-diagnose their issues and self-correct their teams performance by making adjustments to where their teams focus needed to be.

Each manager then conducted the implementation of the corrective actions after the workshop with their team members. Not every manager succeeded in getting the desired response from every member of their team but that is another story.

The secret as a director/owner is to work through your managers and to have your managers ask the questions that you would do. The skill is to ask the right questions, often these will be rhetorical and designed to get the manager to analyse the business KPIs themselves.

Clearly if you do not record this sort of information historically you will find this approach more challenging but the principle remains the same.

Investing in some coaching training for yourself and perhaps your managers is essential if you want to transition this period with minimal impact upon your businesses bottom line. Coaching is about guiding the other person. The GROW coaching model is a great starting point. This breaks the coaching down into four elements:

  1. Goal   – Agree with your manager the outcomes you wish to achieve. What does “good look like”.
  2. Reality           – investigate with your manager through asking questions to understand where the business is and what are the issues.
  3. Options – explore with permissive language patterns what options the manager has to remedy the issues. It is helpful to avoid “telling” the manager what to do.
  4. Way forward – Use SMART goals to gain commitment and ALWAYS have your manager write them down. People are 65% likely to commit to them.


A good lesson to remember as the owner/director is that delegation is not abdication. By that I mean you are still responsible for directing the business though you are now responsible for managing through another person.

You need to continue to think for your manager as well as anticipate the problems and pitfalls that they are not aware of. It is rare that businesses owners can recruit a highly experienced manager from outside the company who can transition into this role with minimal impact on the performance.

Typically businesses promote from within and often the first port of call is your top biller who sadly may not necessarily have the qualities and attributes to manage.

It is extremely rare for newly appointed managers to be successful without themselves receiving training in the basic fundamentals of management. We at the Recruitment Training Group, offer a four-to-five day future leaders training programme.

Our courses are bespoke but typically cover what we all regard as the bear essentials a new manager needs:

  • Leader Behaviour: Focus on            Self-awareness and development: Introduction to leadership – An assessment of current leadership style, appraisal of style, and identification of tools and processes to assist them with improvement in style to become a more effective leader.
  • 2 Leader Performance: Focus on delivering results: Developing Performance – measuring performance, assessment of where managers are now and how they want to develop and how they want to develop their teams. Also Time Management – A Key part of a billing managers role is to become experts at managing their own time and that of their teams. We explore this and help guys develop and implement their own framework.
  • 3 Team Performance: Focus on team deliverables and behaviour: Input/Outputs – what needs to be achieved, agreeing targets, minimum standards, competencies and KPI’s, activities – behaviours – results. Communication and motivation, how to give feedback, constructively discuss difficult subjects, managing under performance, clarification of what under performance is related to competencies and KPIs.  Team building stages and Developing Team Talent. Team Meetings – purpose, inputs/outputs, frequency, agenda, chairing meetings
  • 4 Leading High Performing Teams: Focus on alignment, responsiveness and adaptability to change: Inspirational Leadership, Team Values, Aligning Team Vision with Company Objectives, Strategic Planning, Agreeing Strategic Team Goals aligned to shared Vision and Values, Targets, KPI’s and Competencies and Monitoring Tools. Leading Teams through Rapid Development/Growth, responding to internal and external factors and driving change through the business.  Types and stages of change, helping others adapt.  The Leadership skills needed for identifying the need for and defining the nature of change and managing change.
  • 5 People Development Focus on Developing Individuals: The benefits of nurturing talent – systematic approach to people development, identifying skills’ gaps, selecting the right way to develop someone, identifying individual learning styles. Coaching: the benefits of coaching, what is it, structuring a coaching session; coaching techniques and skills
  • 6 Resourcing for Teams Focus on selecting the right people: Hiring the best – competency based interviewing, UK Legislative Framework, Ensuring Recruitment ‘Best Practice’ process, Hiring and on-boarding.

We will also work on an action plan for delegates to take back to your desks to aid effective implementation.

Whatever route you choose there are trainers and coaches out there that can help you and I would encourage you to find one and work with them as you grow your business.

The extra cost of an experienced coach/trainer is rarely more than one permanent placement or 10% of your monthly temp/contract GP. The cost of failure is often 10-20 times that amount so it is usually money well spent.



Inspire a generation – Determination and Courage

When Lord Coe and the London 2012 Olympic Bid Delegation travelled to Singapore in 2005 to bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, their vision was to use the power of the Games to inspire lasting change.

Since then ‘Inspire a Generation’ has become a phrase we are all familiar with.

As a father of four who took his kids to the Olympics I can tell you they were and remain inspired. You cannot help it.

For me however the last seven days has taken my inspiration to another level. I have found the Paralympics truly awe inspiring.

Countless individuals, who have every excuse under the sun for limiting their ambitions and personal horizons on life, have stepped up and born witness to the Olympic values of Determination and Courage.

How can you not be inspired by these athletes who lacking limbs or vision, are appearing night after night on our TV screens embodying the words Determination and Courage.

Regularly we all pay good money to see Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator), Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider) etal, fight adversity and win against all the odds but they are acting!

These Paralympians are doing this for real.

Sadly for some people it may only serve to highlight their own inadequacies, failings or weakness but there is an alternative view.

In my career I have had the fortune to work closely, sometimes managing, some of the leading names in the UK recruitment industry particularly during previous economic downturns. People who are now CEOs, COOs, MDs as well as the finest sales people of two generations now working in some of the world’s leading recruitment businesses.

I see a common quality in them that I see in these Paralympians. In fact I would say it what makes both the Paralympic medalists and our CEOs, COOs, MDs and leading sales people winners too.

For them these challenges and obstacles which the rest of us sometimes allow to limit our horizons and potential are merely hurdles to overcome.

Failure is not an option.

One of these guys once coined the phrase

‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’. Glib, perhaps it may be but as a mantra to live by it can drive you to achieve amazing results that others can only dream about.

Why is this important?

Well today I hear plenty of sales people, managers, directors and business owners bemoaning the economic conditions, the lack of fillable vacancies or limited availability of finance.

If you believe this could be true of you, find time yourself or have your team sit down and watch the performances of Sarah Storey, David Weir or Ellie Simmonds, in fact any of these amazing Paralympic athletes. Have them spend an hour watching and then have them look at the opportunity they have in their life right now.

I am sure it has hurdles and challenges. Obstacles which appear insurmountable but are they any more insurmountable than those of the Paralympians.

When I managed and coached the people who went on to become top sales people what I saw happen was on one level quite magical. As they shifted their mindset from ‘I cant’ to ‘I can do’ then the universe appeared to reward their commitment with opportunities to overcome their challenges. Yes it tested their resolve and sadly some people failed but those that went on to win never did. Even if they failed at the first attempt.

You see it is true.

‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’

Knowlson Family and Medal Winning Rowers Satch & Nash on Tower Bridge

Want to know how to win 70% of pitches?


Wouldn’t that be fantastic, impossible some say, you’re crazy cant be done. Well it can.

This summer we have seen a group of young men and women take on the best in the world and beat them 7 times out of 10. In fact, but for disqualification’s the percentage could have been higher.

At London 2012 the Team GB Cycling team won 7 gold medals and they did it in Beijing fours previously a performance that was no fluke.


Well on the final day of London 2012 Chris Brailsford went on BBC Breakfast TV and explained (BBC Article). It was not as the french said because our wheels were better, Brailsford even joked that the Team GB’s had a special quality, ‘they were round’. (True and L’Equipe did an article on it!– Click here).

No the answer was down to ‘marginal gains’.

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,” he explained, without looking at all like the evil mastermind of a mysterious sect.

“There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places.

“Do you really know how to clean your hands? Without leaving the bits between your fingers?

“If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less.

“They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.”

This concept is not totally new but the application of it at the Olympics by Team GB has seen the achievement of incredible results.

In our sales training we teach our students to seek a 1% improvement every week in everything they do. So in a year they will have improved by 52%.

So how would you do it? In sales there are thousands of variables, some you control some you don’t. The secret is to focus on those you can control.

In our experience having the right mindset is a key one.

Like Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins, Dani King or Laura Trott the mindest you have when you approach selling, to your clients, prospects or existing customers has a massive effect on your success. Hundred of books have been written on the importance of a positive mental attitude, from Norman Vincent Peal’s ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ to Rhodda Brynes ‘The Secret’ and the power of ‘attraction’.

Brailsford knew this when he was working with the Team GB Cycling Team which is why he brought in sports psychologist Steve Peters to coach the teams mental approach.

In sales we all know this but do we practice it. What do we do daily to make sure we have a positive mental out look. In most cases we are solving our clients problems with what we sell. So would you have confidence in someone solving your most challenging problems if you thought they had too many problems already? Probably not. Look at your own mindset do you portray the air of someone who is invincible or project someone beaten down by the recession.

We are living in demanding economic times I hear you say but very few of us can control the Euro-Debt Crisis or the state of the UK economy. So as sales people we need to focus on the things we can control, and to a degree ignore all the worlds problems.

When Team GB set out to take on the entire world and beat them did they look at the size of the task and give up. Just think about it. Why was their task any less challenging than yours. By their example they have shown you how to beat the entire world seven times out of 10 on two separate occasions.

Brailsford has even shown you the secret. They merely looked at their performance and then broke it down into its individual constituent parts before then setting about making sure they improved each element.

Think about your own performance. I know its a bit humbug but does drinking on a ‘school night’ really improve your performance or not? What about ‘exercise’? Its a fact but the fitter you are physically improves your ability to handle and cope with stress. Is your diet the best for you? What about the books do you read and the people you talk to?

You will notice there are some people you talk to who when you come away you feel inspired, motivated, enthused and energised. Others who drain you or take away your motivation. Sometimes you cannot avoid some of these people but you can control how you contact or approach these people and the effect they have on you. There are techniques that you can use to counteract these types of individuals or re-balance you, perhaps, even help you look differently at their behaviour so it has a positive effect on your performance.

Steve Peters and Team GB know some of them and so do those of us at Selling Success. As Master NLP Practitioners we possess a lot of this knowledge and integrate key elements of it into our training. There is however no universal panacea but working with a qualified coach you can explore which techniques work best for you.

Remember we are all different. What we are doing here is seeking to identify and work on the ‘marginal gains’ that work for you. If today you do nothing else take the opportunity to reflect on yourself, your own performance. Examine those things that have a positive effect and those that don’t. Keep a diary. What things have you done today that helped you, what have you done that didn’t.

The South African championship winning golfer, Gary Player ,used to say ‘the harder I practice the luckier I get’. Sportsman know this stuff.

So it is possible, you can win 70% of your pitches but you need to start now. Work out what are the myriad of elements that go into your performance and dedicate the rest of your career to improving them. If you need help drop us a line or give us a call, we’d love to hear from you. Continue reading “Want to know how to win 70% of pitches?”