How To Be a Great Manager in Recruitment

You’ll know before reading this whether your manager has got ‘it’.

If they have, then you won’t be able to put your finger on what ‘it’ is. But they’ve got ‘it’.

You’ll notice they manage each Consultant differently. They’re adaptable. They have different methods, which are malleable depending on the situation, the mood, the person and the day of the week.

They’re fair, and… you like them.

If they’re really good, they’ll speak with the new starters and ask “how do you like to be managed?” 

This is quite a basic question, but one that get’s asked so infrequently. If you’re talking to a new Graduate then, in fairness, that’s probably understandable. But with Senior and experienced Consultants this question alone could make the difference in staff retention, which to date, is one of the biggest challenges for most recruitment businesses.

If you’re currently a Manager or are stepping in to that role, you should have the traits below in your armoury and be using them all. If you’re a Recruiter, this is what you need to be looking for.

1) A Motivator

Ever had “one of those days” where things just don’t go right. You’ve probably had one this week. You’ve definitely had one this month. We all have them. Motivation as a result can go through the floor.

This is where a good Manager can step up.

Motivation isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation, sometimes you might need a “gee up”, other times an arm round the shoulder.

If your Manager is a successful motivator, you’ll find them picking you up when you’re down, saying just the right things at the right times, and not dwelling on the negatives. In recruitment, with such a focus on self analysis the last thing any Consultant needs is somebody else pointing out the obvious negatives in a situation.

2) An Empathiser

No matter how resilient or confident you are, recruitment will knock you back. That’s the nature of the beast. A manager’s ability to empathise and adapt is crucial to bringing out the best in their team.

An empathetic manager leads through inspiration and you’ll find yourself driven by the desire to please, rather than a fear of the consequences of underperformance. This cultivates a positive atmosphere throughout the team.

Regardless of whether a manager has experienced the same situation previously, they should be able to emotionally support you and help you to come out the other side of a negative situation.

Train Gym Woman

3) A Teacher

No matter what training programme you’ve completed and how many extra courses you do outside of your job, learning “on the job” is priceless. The wider experiences you have, the more life lessons you’re able to impart.

A great Manager is a great Teacher.

Whether they’re standing next to you on a call, giving you some tips prior to an important meeting, or suggesting reading material that’s helped them in the past.

Your manager should be facilitating your continuous development.

When you find a great Teacher, they’ll teach you best practice, but they’ll also teach you WHY it’s best practice. The method behind the madness. Not just “because it is.” And as a result of these people, you’ll want to learn more and more.

If you have a team where there’s a habit of sharing articles, exchanging tips, every team member helping each other (regardless of seniority) – there’s every chance you’re on the right track.

4) A Deflector 

Had a bad month? Feeling a little under the weather? Had a deal just fall out? Chances are someone in the business will question your ability or commitment at one point or another. You can’t be a super star every single day. 

Your Manager will know this. They’ll also know you better than senior management will. They work with you every day. They know your ability and what you’re working on. If your Manager isn’t fighting your corner in senior management meetings, they’re working against you.

Army Skydive

5) A Leader

Whether your Manager is billing still or not, the best lead from the front.

This means you hear them on the phone making great sales calls. You see them in meetings representing themselves in the best light. They win business. They solve problems. Candidates and clients warm to them and they build rapport with even the most awkward of characters.

These are the Managers to emulate.

They perform in this way, not because they think they ought to. Rather, because they’ve been taught well. Their consistency is their best talent.

Follow their lead.

The Whole Package

Unhappy Recruiters are rarely successful Recruiters. If your Manager sets the right balance, you’ll get results and enjoy your work. A Manager who encompasses all of the above is hard to find.

Even if you do find one, they don’t get it right every time. They’re human. They’ll make mistakes and have ‘off-days’ from time to time, just like you.

Conversing with your manager should be something you do regularly, and not just at review time. Regular health checks of the relationship are critical for it to work. It’s a two way process though. There’s no harm in telling your manager: “This is how I like to be managed.”

Great Managers are worth their weight in gold. Not only will they rise to challenges and champion you and the business, but they’ll get the best out of everyone around them.

Look for these key traits in yourself and your Manager and you’ll be on the right path.