Clare Alderton, Owner and MD of A1 Locums was gracious enough to share her wisdom on growing a hugely successful recruitment agency from the very start. This is part three of the blog series which covers:
Part one (read here)
1 Team dynamics
2 Individual attention
3 When to hire more?
Part two (read here)
4 Becoming a manager
5 Company success
6 Keeping up to date
7 How REC research helps
8 Maintaining community
9 Employee turn around
10 Balancing a team
11 Pros and cons of growth
Part four (read here)
12 Industry changes
13 Clients and candidates changes
14 Promoting good practice
I have too much responsibility there, to be honest with you! Well, we do have quite a mixed team, we’ve got young and old and we’ve got lads and lasses here and we are all from different walks of life, but because we are quite isolated here we sort of form quite a bond. The older team members look after the younger team members. We don’t seem to have an issue with that. Morale is pretty good here. People do seem to stay. I think these days, with the younger team members, I think their approach to life can be a bit more transient, no matter what industry you’re in or what you do. I don’t take it as a negative when people come here and move on.
We often take younger team members in and train them up and the majority of them haven’t any recruitment experience but the last two that have left they both stayed over two years, which again I think is good especially in this day and age- they’ve both moved on to different recruitment roles, whereas they had no recruitment training before so I look on that as ‘my work here is done’ you know? They have moved on, one has moved on to office recruitment: receptionists and the like and another went in to dealing with a different type of recruitment- very different businesses but they are going about it in the right way, they both feel they can take their skillsets and move them on to a different sector, which is a good thing I think.
It makes me feel quite proud, because they are both young people and, thanks to what we’ve given them here, they’ve now got a career path. The skill sets that they’ve learnt here they can move forward with and apply to many types of recruitment really which I think is good. I take quite a lot of pleasure out of that, though it’s always sad to see people move on- sometimes it’s just right for them or right for us, we never want anyone to feel stifled or stuck.
We have a mixture of people, some have stayed for over twelve years and some of our younger staff stay to learn and develop. It’s ‘horses for courses’, for example, Sophie came in as a trainer, and after three and a half years with us, she's become a senior recruiter, she’s done her time and she’s moving up through the ranks. We hope the two young lads we have with us will be able to do the same and move forward when they feel the time is right too. We always provide opportunities for career progression with everybody here, we try and vary their roles with different things to do and different ways to think. We try and add value to their career progression and their personal progression- no one wants to do the same thing for the next ten years.
I think from a personal point of view when you're smaller you’re a little bit more flexible. I think when you’re larger it becomes more of a proper job. I’ve always used the term when the business was smaller, I almost called it a ‘bedroom business’. Sometimes, for example, we might have stuck the answer-machine on and went off to watch our daughters play hockey- when we weren’t busy it wasn’t as much of an issue. But once you get larger things change, when we moved into a proper office separate to our own home- that changes your mindset. Our dress code went from jeans and jumpers to smart attire, more professional and that’s made a difference. Dress appropriately can change your mindset- I mean, we’re not all dressed up to the nines but taking that more professional route is a noticeable difference between a small start-up and a larger, more corporate organisation. Also having more staff means a lot more responsibility. People have mortgages and bills to pay and you are responsible for their welfare, making sure you do the best job you can with the business for them as well. Because we also run a profit-share here as well. We don’t just run a bonus structure for the recruiters, shares for the whole company effort. It’s all very well the recruiters getting ‘bums on seats’ as it were, but if the accounts staff don’t actually collect the money in, then it doesn’t matter how successful the recruiters are, so we do try and look at the business as a whole and I think that’s very important as well. Everybody here is equally important.
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