Leading Practice

Sophie Robertson, Younique coaching, outlines a powerful leadership skill.

Leading Practice


As I have the good fortune to work with many recruitment companies of various sizes, it has become apparent that many managers miss the opportunity to increase their own credibility and power to effect the individual recruiter’s behaviours and success.

Some managers will have 1:1s, albeit that they can be infrequent and with little thought on how best to maximise this time to the benefit of the recruiter, the managers themselves, the bottom line and therefore the business. Too often valuable 1:1 time is taken up with going through the previous week’s activities and pointing out the shortfalls with a directive to do ‘more’. The problem with this approach is that ‘more’ is very non-specific and usually there is a reason why they have not done the required activities, that this approach may not uncover.

Think about the 3 C’s to being a good recruiter:

  • Competence i.e. knowing what to do and how;
  • Confidence; being confident enough to do the activities;
  • Consistency; doing what works every day to avoid peaks and troughs in billings.

Time would be better spent on coaching the recruiter, but before I delve into the ‘how’, we need to understand what coaching is. Some people mistake coaching as a fancy word for training or mentoring, but it is neither.

Coaching is grounded in the belief that the person being coached (coachee) know themselves better than anyone else despite their blind spots, so it makes sense that coaching is an asking modality. A great coach asks great questions to elicit understanding in the coachee as to why they do or do not do certain things/activities. If the manager is telling/showing the recruiter what to do, then they are training them. If they share how they might have done something similar themselves, then they are mentoring. There is a need for all three modalities, but a true 21st Century Leadership skill to engage and grow Generation Ys and Zs is coaching to understand each individual recruiter and to assist them to be their very best.

Instead of asking them to do ‘more’, as a manager, you need to do two things; a) understand first what they are doing by working with them at their desk. When I work with recruiters at their desk, it is easy to see where they need mentoring/training and to provide it. It is not enough to ask them if they need help as the old adage: “you don’t know what you don’t know” applies to everyone. Once you provide them with the required training, you then need to go to b) and ask if they are confident in doing it.


A concrete example might be that they are sending many CVs, but not getting every candidate interviewed. The steps would be to help them understand how to achieve this could be:

  1. To get every candidate interviewed, they need to set this expectation with the client when taking the job order and asking for interview times upfront. That way if there are any objections, they can deal with them then and there.
  2. Ask the recruiter if they know how to do this and if they have the confidence to do it. The ‘how’ you can role play/ role model. The confidence part is a vital part as if they do not have confidence, they either will not do it or they will not be able to persuade the client in advance to interview every candidate. If this is the case, then coaching is useful as you can ask them questions to get them to reflect on where their reluctance or lack of confidence comes from e.g: “How do you see the relationship between yourself and the client?” E.g. is it a Master-Servant relationship where the client is the master? If this is the case on a conscious or unconscious level, then the client will not trust your advice as you are not showing up as an expert. You can use storytelling or analogies to reach their hearts, which is useful to change behaviours. I tell this story about two surf schools I contacted to arrange surfing lessons for five teenage boys. One surf school was very accommodating, so much so that when I asked when they would pick us up for surf lessons, they asked me when I wanted to be picked up. After careful consideration I asked them to pick us up at 10am as getting five teenage boys out of bed is no mean feat! The other surf school said they had to pick us up at 7:30am and when I asked if they could come later, they explained that they would guarantee my novice surfers that they would all stand at the end of the one hour lesson, but they needed to be there at that hour as the waves suited their level. When I ask at the end of this story which surf school people would choose, they say the second one without hesitation as they perceived them to be experts. Often this makes the penny drop where the recruiter can see that bending over backwards to please the client would be to the client’s detriment as they would not get the best service, but it also diminishes their own credibility and expertise. Coaching is about holding a mirror up to people, so they can see and understand why they react and act the way they do, then it is up to them to change it. Lastly if you think you are too ‘busy’ to coach your team at their desks, then understand that you are giving away what is potentially the most powerful leadership tool, which is to be seen as an expert by your staff and for them to know you are there for their growth and success. To be an effective leader to millennials now, you need to master the art of being a good and consistent coach!



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