The Importance of Team Leadership in Recruitment
A career in recruitment management requires resilience, determination, patience, positive reinforcement and passion. We caught up with two of Search's divisional managers, James Macbeth - Industrial and Driving Logistics - in Leeds and Michael Quinn - Accountancy and Financial Services - in Manchester, as they share their stories about how they came to be the exceptional recruitment managers and inspirational team leaders that they are today!
How Team Management compliments Team Leadership
Many people believe that leadership and management are one in the same, but although leadership and management compliment one other, they differ in how the former promotes innovation and creativity, while the latter focuses on results and maintaining optimal standards. A good team manager exhibits a perfect balance of organised management, combined with the charismatic leadership that inspires positive change and innovation.
In order to be a team leader who attracts the admiration, loyalty and motivation to deliver results from their team, one must first be a team player.
James notes that he understood this principal early on in his life. “Throughout my career, I never wanted to see anyone struggle, so I would strive to look for ways that I could help my colleagues whenever they seemed stuck. I enjoy being a team player and I think this sentiment stems from my involvement in sport over the years.”
Michael too found himself exhibiting the qualities of a team player early on in his career. “Although you have to focus on your own activities and results as a recruiter, I have always liked to share information, offer support and celebrate team successes. When I moved into a team leading position, I felt these types of behaviours came naturally to me,” he recalls.
Being a team leader means embracing change, adapting to new environments, people, and work cultures, all the while pushing towards a collective objective. “I must admit that initially coming to Search was a big culture shock for me because it was a completely different environment from where I had worked previously. However, the job profile was the same so I just got on with it,” he recalls.
James then went on to build a new division from scratch, drawing the individual strengths from his colleagues. “There hadn’t been an industrial desk in the Leeds site since 2008 and the biggest issue to start with was not having a database of candidates,” he says.
Despite the initial setbacks, James soon found his feet and was able to strategise a plan of action to build a significant candidate database to attract clients. “Rather than be too eager and pick up a plethora of jobs only to then struggle finding a temp to fill the vacancy, we focused on registering semi-skilled candidates and taking them to market whilst we slowly built our desk and availability,” he says.
Although there is still a slow build up, James is confident in prioritising quality over quantity, a module that some managers may tend to ignore in their desperation for results. “We still find it challenging being a new team as compared to where I have worked elsewhere. But although we may get less walk-ins, my team have done an excellent job in ensuring that our reputation is strong, and thus attract people who are of a very high calibre.”
James notes that building a new divisional team from scratch upon joining Search meant that he had to progress forward rather than cling to the old, a trait that certainly defines a good team leader. “There are still plenty of long-standing clients from before I began working at Search, but instead we have seen the start-up as a clean slate and built new relationships. There are a number of clients that we converted and we have built a desk where we supply to some great employers that really look after our candidates.
"We listened to our candidates and gained their feedback, focusing on developing client relationships where they were treated well. In hindsight being more selective may have seemingly slowed our growth but has made for a much more substantial and long-standing database.”
A strong, inspirational team leader will rise up to any challenge that may present itself and turn it into an opportunity for success, keeping a level head whilst motivating and driving their team to keep calm and carry on consistently yielding positive results. Michael relives his journey with Search thus far saying, “I would describe it as eventful, challenging and fun! I joined Search at a time when there had been some leadership changes so my primary objective was to get to know the team, work closely with them and keep the results moving in a positive direction.”
He maintains that one of his biggest hurdles was leading and growing a team of individuals who were fairly new to the industry. “I think it’s fair to say the biggest challenge was getting to grips with where each individual was in terms of activity, results and just as importantly, how they were feeling about things on a personal level. What made it more challenging was that 75 percent of the team were relatively new to Search.”
Michael effectively addressed and overcame these challenges simply by striving to identify the natural qualities within his team members, and motivate them to contribute their unique skills and traits towards the overall productivity of the team, a habit he still exercises till this day.
“From day one, I’ve tried to be open, honest and positive about what they - my team mates - as individuals can achieve and what we can collectively achieve as a team. Therefore, I’ve been actively supporting them on client visits and daily interactions to try and develop their confidence and skills and belief in their own ability.”
Michael firmly believes in the importance of being flexible and open to peoples’ unique qualities in order to maintain a dynamic and innovative team. “Team dynamics will vary depending on the personalities involved, so one skill I’ve learned over the years is to know your own strengths and weaknesses inside out and those of the team you work with. It can help to provide a much more harmonious and productive working environment,” he says.
Michael takes on a very resilient approach when encountering setbacks that may put pressure on him and his team. “Stay calm and don’t panic, that’s my motto!” he exclaims. “Working in recruitment, inevitably throws up many challenging situations, but experience tells me there is a solution for most of them. Showing emotions is fine, we’re only human after all. But I’m a great believer in not panicking and staying calm, even if you might not feel it inside.”
Self assurance is contagious and Michael is certainly evidence of this. “Being confident and assured, instils confidence in your team, regardless of how difficult the situation might be. Where possible, I like to ascertain all the facts and involve those that need to be involved to get a well rounded view of the situation at hand.”
In ensuring that his team operates smoothly and efficiently on a day-to-day basis, Michael encourages a high level of engagement. “Regular, open communication about activity and results is key, whether that be individually or collectively as a team. If you’re working to an agreed plan then it should be easy to relate everything back and identify what actions are required to get things back on track,” he says. In addition to this, he incentivises his team, and this in turn fosters increased motivation. “Whether it be money (or what money can buy), career advancement or a simple pat on the back to say well done, everyone is driven by their own intrinsic or extrinsic motivational drivers. My job as a leader is to find out what they are and tailor them to my team to create a positive and results driven working environment.”
The Qualities of an exceptional Team Leader and Manager
While hierarchy and a chain of command used to be commonly associated with managerial structures, innovative businesses are now embracing a more progressive corporate culture that promotes working as a team in sharing ideas, contributing towards productivity and yielding positive results. While a manager will still be in place, their job is to ultimately empower their team to be self driven and hungry for success, rather than dictate and micro manage projects.
James maintains that good leadership is all about forming strong relationships whilst balancing positive engagement with organisational structure. “Open, honest, supportive, respectful – I would like to think those are traits of mine.”
“However, in leading a team, I also think it is important to have a clear plan of what you are aiming to achieve. It may never get realised 100 percent, but at least you and your team will have a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve, thus generating consistent productivity.”
Michael agrees with James' sentiments. "Everyone wants to run a team that is 100 percent accountable, but a good leader should be able to keep themselves and their team moving in the right direction,” he asserts.
In addition to focus and drive, Michael is a firm believer in the importance of engagement and leading by example, saying, “Integrity – it’s an old adage but ‘people buy people’ and to inspire and engage your team, I believe you need to be as open and honest as you can be, do the things you say you’re going to do and lead from the front. Oh, and if you can admit when you’re wrong, people will respect you more. He concludes that a good team leader should demonstrate enthusiasm that is both admirable and contagious.
“I’ve worked with many great and inspirational leaders over the years, and you don’t have to shout the loudest to demonstrate passion, it just needs to be obvious and genuine.”
Fancy a Career with Search?
Are you an experienced recruiter looking for your next role within the industry? Search Consultancy is a nationwide recruitment agency that offers a wide range of jobs from a variety of specialist industry sectors. If you feel you would be an ideal addition to our team, please do not hesitate to contact our internal recruitment manager, Peter Barry by email on [email protected]. Take a look at the recruitment consultant jobs that we have on offer here.
About our Contributors
James Macbeth is currently a Divisional Manager at Search Consultancy. After joining Search in 2014, he has built and developed the Leeds Industrial and Driving divisions from scratch. He maintains that his greatest success within the industry is the long-term business relationships that he has been able to secure with his team, clients and candidates. He describes himself as a workaholic, not just from the long hours in the recruitment industry, but because he is committed to going the extra mile in providing the best level of service to clients and candidates.
Michael Quinn is a highly motivated, experienced and professional recruitment Senior Manager who is quality focused and results driven. He currently manages the Accountancy and Financial Services recruitment division across the North West. He is a firm believer in the power of integrity, honesty, professionalism and hard work to generate long term success.