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In December I did something that ran counter to all my natural instincts: ten days before Christmas, I booked a last-minute flight to a rural part of southern India. I decided to spend the last working week of 2017 quite cut off from my business, clients and team; to swap client meetings and Christmas drinks for solitude, yoga and meditation. When you’re a target-oriented person (like, I suspect, most CEOs and managers)- someone who thrives on immediate action and progress, separating yourself from the things that need your attention can feel like an elaborate form of self-torture. Equally, though, it’s easy to become immersed in ‘busyness’- to confuse the daily round of quick fixes, snap decisions and dashed-off emails with progress; to lose sight of what should be your guiding objectives in the fug of things that need your attention now.
Venatrix has recently turned two, has grown from seven to fourteen people, and expanded its offering to include senior vacancies. I went to India to shut out the background noise of life in our office, so I could think up practical strategies to manage all this change. I also wanted to answer some woollier, but still vital, questions that have arisen over the course of the last year. What defines our unique approach to Recruitment? How should we train the grads that join us to succeed in an industry that is saturated, stiffly competitive, and often unpredictable?
In coming up with my advice to my team for 2018, I was helped by lots of yoga, mango lassis, and a couple of self-help books with a shared focus on productivity. These the principles that are going to ensure Venatrix has a killer 2018:
It’s easy to think about success in Recruitment as something that happens to you, or doesn’t. As well as the usual highs and lows of any Sales role- runs of luck and seasonal fluctuations, for example- recruiters face all the additional challenges and surprises that arise when your product is people. I’ve been matching grads with their first ‘proper’ jobs for ten years now, and have been on the receiving end of every conceivable twist of fortune: candidates who sign contracts and then decide to go skiing for three months; improbably long notice periods; enough missed trains and delayed tubes to bring London to a halt for a week. Some of this stuff, of course, was unavoidable bad luck- but some of it, even if I didn’t realise it at the time, was probably my fault- the result of lacklustre pitching, or weak candidate management.
So much of the stuff we think happens to us and dictates our success is actually totally within our control. On any given day in Recruitment, your mindset will directly impact your success. If you shuffle into work, slump into your chair and ring up ten candidates sounding like a wet Monday morning, the chances that any of them will invest in you and your roles are low. But if you make a positive decision to have a good day, and make those calls sounding like you believe in your own authority, roles and the value you can add, you’ll communicate your belief and optimism and carry the candidates along with you.
Don’t set goals- make commitments
There is absolutely no point setting goals and targets if you aren’t committed to achieving them.
Even the words ‘target’ and ‘goal’ imply failure- hitting a bullseye and scoring a goal are reasons for celebration precisely because they don’t happen every time. If something is worth doing, then it must be done. Don’t just agree that it would be nice to make it happen- decide you are going to do it. Write it down somewhere you’ll see it every day. Visualise how you will feel and what you will gain when you achieve it. Plan how you are going to get there.
Yes, seriously. Some people succeed because they push themselves to the limits of their endurance, and beat themselves up about every mistake they make, but that isn’t much fun and you only get one life.
In life and work, things will go wrong, and some of them will be your fault. Learn from them, but don’t drive yourself crazy obsessing over them. Instead, focus on your intentions. If, at the end of the day, you believe that everything you did was intended to be positive and constructive, then you can square your mistakes with yourself and learn from them.