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Sarah Leembruggen shares her toughest lesson yet and New Year’s Resolution

04 Jan 2017 by Sarah Leembruggen.
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In this blog I reflect on what has gone well – and not so well – in the last year and how I will be moving forward with my team in 2017.

Anyone who works closely with me will know I love change.  I will embrace a new process wholeheartedly. In fact, those around me can struggle to keep up and I have been told on many an occasion ‘to slow down’.  If I can see that something is going to work for the better, I will be all over it, nudging it through from every angle.

Step one – sole agency works

Let me explain, the change I wanted to make is to ‘only’ work with our clients on a sole agency basis. We have two service options to fill a role - executive search and a contingency (paid on result only) sole agency service.  My reasoning has been from our analysis of filling jobs and the numbers don’t lie.  Our stats show, that we successfully fill 75% of our sole agency roles and 100% of our retained searches and 100% of these candidates passed their probation with flying colours. Results to be proud of. 

Step two – proud to be different

I appreciate this is not how the majority of recruitment consultancies work and many companies are used to working with multiple agencies on a role.  However, we have never wanted to be like the rest of the industry.  We want to stand out from the crowd and be ‘the’ search consultancy, known for a quality performance, superior knowledge and showing great care. 

When I think about it, we have been talking about this sole-agency service for two years. So where have we gone wrong?

I wasn’t brave enough to fully embrace the change myself.  Of all people – the change instigator. It comes down to what we didn’t stop doing. If we want to offer a sole agency service, then we need to stop offering a multi-agency service.  Clients will soon understand as they get fantastic results and the team will get used to the change soon enough when they feel like high performers. Offering both services just hasn’t worked. 

Step three – finding high performers is time consuming

Resourcing for high performers and keeping in touch with them is really time consuming as we operate in a passive market.  It can take us a week of focus, sometimes more to fill one role.  If only we had spent our time just handling sole-agency roles.  My ‘ah-ha’ came when I looked at the annual stats.  My team and clients don’t need to change as I thought but I do. 

Step four – time to ‘women up’

Change comes from the top and that’s me.  I need to ‘woman-up’ and believe in this sole-agency service as it works.  I have been doing it for years and really well.  So my lesson has been to take courage, stop doing what doesn’t work immediately and believe in myself.  Old habits die hard but our values underpin everything we do and I will not accept poor results.

Step five – only work sole agency briefs

So my New Year’s Resolution is this. We will only work sole agency briefs. Next year’s results will be different as I need to slow down the greying.  It’s going to be a different year.

What New Year's Resolution have you made? We’d love to hear – share your stories @theworksrecruit.

The Works Search specialise in placing board level PR and corporate communications talent in leading PR agencies and in-house organisations across London, on both an executive search and contingency basis. For our latest roles visit our jobs page, or to discuss your career in confidence contact us on 0207 559 6690 – we would love to hear from you.

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