During a speaking engagement a few years ago, I asked about 350 account executives, “Can we all agree that four hours per day of phone time is critical to our success?” Three hundred and fifty hands shot into the air. I followed with “How many of you actually hit four hours of phone time per day?” Just three hands went up. Three people out of 350, yet every single person in that room knew what they needed to do. They just didn’t do it.
It can be tempting to take shortcuts, to ignore your instincts about success. A personal example: a few years ago, my office was hovering around 3.5 hours of average daily phone time. My goal for each individual was four hours per day, and two people were hitting it regularly, two phone-time heroes. But the majority of my team was just getting by with the minimum.
The new manager of a recruiting firm came to me and suggested that we lower the phone time goal to 3.5 hours per day to make everyone feel better. Against my better judgment, I agreed. Two months into this idea and our pair of phone-time heroes continued to perform well. Everyone else in the office dropped to an average of just three hours per day. How are we supposed to increase the number of qualified contacts in our recruiting software with less time on the phones?
I admitted my mistake, and I realized that people tend to perform at or below minimum expectations for success in ALL areas of their lives.
As a business owner, someone who is dedicated to training and delivering top achievers, I’ve thought long and hard about why this is. My three answers are detailed below:
1. Society has begun to accept (and expect) underperformance.
This is the era of participation awards. Sports, schools, jobs . . . they all reward participation versus real achievement. Just showing up should not be cause for celebration. Yet today, parties are thrown for graduating from the fifth grade. Trophies are handed out to every member of the team instead of honoring top performers. Society seems to value mediocrity. At soccer games at our local junior high school, they don’t display the true final score of a soccer game if one team won by more than five goals. School officials don’t want players and their parents to feel bad.
Are you outraged? You should be. Because it isn’t just kids’ soccer we’re talking about. It’s establishing the false premise that “average is acceptable.” The truth is, there are winners and losers in life. In the real world, we don’t get to choose to acknowledge only the scores we like. We aren’t rewarded for simply participating. It’s all about getting the job done better. Don’t ever let it be okay for you or your office to be just average.
2. We don’t know what to do.
You can’t win the game if you don’t know the rules. To be successful in business—and recruiting—you’ve got to know what you’re doing. If you don’t understand how to make an effective marketing call or how to set up a metrics system to manage your recruiting firm, you’d better find out. It isn’t enough to just say you want to succeed. You need to learn everything there is to know about recruiting. I often wonder if people studied more in high school or college than they do when learning their profession. You need to take every day in the office as seriously as final exams in college. If you are primed with in-depth professional knowledge, you can’t fail. You need to be a student of the game, obtaining all of the information you can to help you be more successful at what you do.
As recruiters, we have so many great resources. Wonderful training programs and fantastic coaches are available to you that can give you valuable, continuing education and mentoring. Don’t let a lack of knowledge stop you from achieving your goals.
3. We know what to do and we know how to do it, but we still don’t do it.
Many people know exactly what to do and exactly how to do it. Yet they simply choose not to. It’s always surprising to me to see great recruiters show up to work with no plan for the day. I guess that’s why we have superstars. Because they are in the minority, and they always get the job done, no matter what. The average performer knows very well he should plan for the next day before leaving the office. But there’s always a reason why it’s more important to walk out the door at 5 p.m. today than to plan to be successful for the next.
It’s sort of like grabbing that second doughnut in the office break room. Everyone says they want to be healthy. Everyone knows they shouldn’t eat junk and sit around playing video games instead of going to the gym. But many, many of us are unwilling to apply what we know and execute it by working out and eating right.
Unfortunately, the cost of failure in life is much bigger than whether or not you look fit in your suit. When you fail to achieve career success, it affects not only you, but also your kids, your spouse, and your friends. If you choose not to pay the price of success, you fail, and it can quickly become a habit. Repeated over and over, dreams become distant prayers, and your true potential never materializes. A lot of things can happen along with habitual failure, and none of it is good.
One in 10 new account executives and search consultants make it to their one-year anniversary in recruiting. That means 90% of the people fail in this business. Staggering, isn’t it? It sounds like the odds are stacked against you, but the good news is that there’s a way to dramatically increase your chance of success for every new recruiter or struggling veteran. I’ll discuss that way in my next blog post.
Is YOUR recruiting firm underperforming?
— — —
Jon Bartos, a guest writer for the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Blog, is a premier writer, speaker, and consultant on all aspects of personal performance, human capital, and the analytics behind them. In 2010, Bartos founded Revenue Performance Management, LLC. The RPM Dashboard System is a business intelligence tool used worldwide for metrics management for individual and team performance improvement. In 2012, Bartos achieved national certification in Hypnotherapy, furthering his interest in learning the dynamics behind what motivates others to achieve higher levels of success. Click here to visit Bartos’s website.