The boss came in to work today a bit glum. Yesterday, he lost a bit of money on a horse that had won it’s last 3 races but had unexpectedly come last. Based on its previous runs, the horse was expected to win comfortably but had been well beaten. The boss had all sorts of theories as to why the sudden change in form - change of jockey, a longer distance, harder ground and even a conspiracy theory to do with a rogue bookie. The conversation extended to discuss sport’s stars that are brilliant one day and then, seemingly overnight, go off the boil ….why do they suddenly go from hero to zero ?
“It’s like that with recruitment consultants”, I said. To explain my point I used the example of a recruiter I know well.
This guy had started working in recruitment in the UK with a large global firm. In his first few years he was consistently in the top billers and had been promoted a couple of times. When the company was looking for someone to move to one of their underperforming branches he got the job. He turned the business around and achieved a big pat on the back because of it. This guy got a bit cocky though and thought he could do better elsewhere. So he interviewed around town and, with the track record he had, was inundated with offers.
The company he chose were delighted to have secured his services and based on his previous performance had high expectations of this guy. But very quickly they realised that not all was well. Having come from recruiting in a different sector he was struggling to adapt to the new market he was working in. He also didn’t seem to fit the culture or management style which was dramatically different to where he had previously worked. He quickly found himself struggling, unmotivated, miserable and after a painful period they agreed to part company. The hero that they thought they had backed, turned out to be more of a zero for them.
I know this guy well because he is me.
I had not suddenly forgotten how to recruit or lost all of the qualities that had previously made me successful. The reality was that the company, the management and the sector I was working in were not a good fit for me. It is like a star footballer who arrives at a new club full of promise but doesn’t get on with his new manager, is played out of position and subsequently doesn’t score for more than 20 games (not mentioning any names Chelsea fans). Or the horse my boss bet on who went from first to last. Their dip in performance is probably more to do with other factors than just their ability. If they are genuinely good and still up for it, given the right circumstances then they will be good again.
Similarly, a good recruiter does not simply become a bad recruiter over night. However, a move to the wrong company can turn a hero biller into a zero biller (literally!). Of course the opposite is also true and given the right opportunity someone who is underperforming can become successful again. I am happy to say that subsequent to my career blip I have been successful in every role I have had. I hope the same can be said for the horse as my boss has already put money on it in it’s next race.