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The Resilient Recruiter

Feb 4, 2020

More and more agencies are proving that you can successfully scale your recruitment business by utilizing team development and automation tools. What does the development process look like? Can automation truly open up your time to focus on revenue-producing activities?

Mark Smith, the Managing Director of people2people, has spent the last 15 years implementing these processes. He’s articulated values for the business culture and has developed and retained a team of successful recruiters. people2people has quickly grown into one of the leading agencies in Australia and New Zealand. 

In this episode of The Resilient Recruiter, Mark will share some of the strategies that have helped him scale people2people to the point it’s at now. He’ll talk about managing against your values, motivating and developing your team, their automated chatbot “Pete”, and much more. Don’t miss this engaging and educational episode. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:23] What is the “Valley of Death”?
  • [5:32] You need to define your culture’s values
  • [11:50] How to uphold your values
  • [18:00] Mark’s history with Greg Savage
  • [20:05] Mark attributes his success to team development
  • [27:50] An unconventional way to hire and train recruiters
  • [34:20] Applications for Pete—the people2people chatbot
  • [39:35] Other ways Mark implements automation
  • [44:32] The big challenges recruitment agencies will face

You need to define your culture’s values

As Mark was scaling his business he began to question if his company’s values were staying consistent across their 110 locations. He wanted to definitively know if the culture in his Brisbane office was the same as in Melbourne. After some reflection, he decided his business had reached a point where it was time to articulate their values. 

While researching, he found was that his offices were relatively consistent—and he was relieved. But Mark wanted to forge ahead with his endeavor to fully define what they strive for as a company. He and his team landed on an acronym—STRIDE: Strength (resilience), Teamwork, Respect, Integrity, Drive, and Enterprise—that they would use to define their values. With a description firmly in place, they could begin to manage everything against their values. They had a way to evaluate if potential hires line up with their beliefs.

Mark’s company, people2people has since implemented a monthly meeting to talk about wins and performance. They host a yearly STRIDE awards event where people from each office are nominated. They have STRIDE apparel and posters as visual reminders of their values. They’ve found an effective way to implement their team values internally, and Mark believes it greatly impacts their success externally with customer relationships. 

Mark has found success in the power of team development

People2people now has 110 staff and 8 different locations in Australia and New Zealand. Mark noted that scaling the business wasn’t easy. When the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hit, there was a downturn in Australia. He couldn’t attract experienced recruiters and had difficulty hiring externally. So he rallied and decided that he would develop his own team into recruiters. 

When he chose that path for his business it meant he had to develop a process for training. He wanted the customer experience to be the same across the board. But if he was going to develop his own team from the ground up, he wanted to limit staff turnover and increase longevity. This takes hard work and dedication and fully enforcing the values they built the company on. Because of his effort, 35 of his employees have been with the business for longer than 5 years. 

Mark develops his team through succession planning. He has staff trained and ready to step up if a senior consultant moves on. How does he achieve that? His preferred method is to assign a para consultant to a senior consultant in the business. They train with the senior recruiter and handle administrative responsibilities. Mark has found this is the best way to implement team development. Keep listening as he shares what the ideal para consultant looks like and the criteria he uses to determine if they’re ready for their own desk. 

Scaling your business utilizing automation

While Mark does have a back-office, he’s always striving to keep the bulk of his company’s workforce revenue-producing. For him, that means utilizing the latest technology to take on most administrative duties. Enter Pete—people2people’s chatbot. Previously, Mark had rotated para consultants to answer questions on their website. Now, Pete answers most of the 400+ questions they receive weekly. Of those 400 questions, Pete only transfers approximately 30 conversations to a human being.

Implementing a bot to answer questions is just one way Mark has opened up his employees’ time. He also uses his chat-bot to speak with potential hires. They’re able to interact and chat with Pete to knock out some basic questions that would be asked in an interview. Pete can wrap up administrative details and all of the information gathered is input into their system. Mark points out that some people have whole departments to handle processes that his chatbot can do. 

Implementing automation may be expensive, but can save you money in the long run. It allows you to hire fewer people and gives you a more scalable business. It opens up your time to win new business. With everything he implements, Mark is always questioning whether or not it is scalable and will help grow the business. Keep listening to hear other ways Mark is using automation and how he addresses ongoing challenges he sees in the recruitment industry. 

The core of the business will always be client relationships

Although Mark wholly believes in implementing technology and automation to streamline his business, he agrees that there will always be a place for the human element. Bots can’t understand motivations, career aspirations, and certainly can’t sell an opportunity. But by implementing bots and technology, Mark has freed up his recruitment team to focus on activities that bring in revenue and the ever important customer relationships. 

It’s also why he’s focused tirelessly on team development to ensure they’re living out the companies core values. He’s struggled through difficult situations where he’s had to part ways with top-earning recruiters because they didn’t espouse the values he’s built the business on. The rest of the team sees that he has taken action and reinforces those values. They see that he is willing to lose revenue to back those beliefs. Mark states that “Success is not only defined by the numbers of dollars or pounds you put up on the board”—It can also be measured in the ongoing relationships recruiters have developed with clients. 

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