When I was 24 years old, I was a leadership trainer as a young a naval officer. I taught Deming management methods (Total Quality Management) to thousands of officers and sailors in Norfolk, Virginia. W. Edwards Deming, one of the pioneers of contemporary management thought and a business legend in Japan, said that all managers must commit to continuous improvement. Everything can always get better, no matter how good it already is.
Success in executive search is dependent upon getting the right knowledge and applying it in the right sequence with the right frequency, the right amount of intensity, and positive intention. But unless you are taking ownership of your own training, you’ll never figure out how to improve. You’ll never get better. When it comes to continuous performance improve-ment, training must be a core competency.
I’ll never forget the time I heard Brian Tracy, my favorite sales trainer, say that leading performers of sales organizations all have one thing in common: they buy their own books and CDs, pay their own way to conventions and meetings, and invest regularly in their own personal development. In other words, they take full ownership of their results and are always actively looking to improve their performance.
His words challenged me to see how much I could pour into my little gray brain about the business. I would seek out industry seminars and attended every one I could find. I would fly to go to see Peter Leffkowitz, Danny Cahill, Charles Wadlow, Gene Rice and Jeff Cohen, Tony and Barb Bruno, Doug Beabout, and many other great trainers. I purchased every video by Steve Finkel and Tony Byrne, read every book by Bill Radin, and got my hands on everything I could find related to our wacky industry. I became a sponge for knowledge and wanted to soak up as much industry-related material as I could.
Here are eight ideas that will help you integrate this model of success into your desk:
1. Commit to continuous and never-ending improvement. There is a risk in doing this because when you take this step, you are telling the world that you don’t know it all. This requires a healthy self-confidence level without the fragile and over-inflated ego. Impossible for a few in our business who let their egos take over their hearts and attach their self-worth to how much they make. But if you develop a healthy sense of selfworth and can admit you can still learn something, then, you are beginning your journey to greatness.
2. Identify those variables which determine success and are the predictors leading up to it. What constitutes success in your office? Figure it out and get it on paper. Interviews, offers, acceptances, fees, billings, number of clients, etc.
3. Begin to measure the appropriate ratios between the variables that count. Anything that is measured generally improves over time.
4. Set a budget of what you intend to invest in training. Perhaps you can make this a percentage of your monthly income or quarterly revenue. For every dollar you invest in training, you should expect to get at least ten dollars back. Start with one percent of your revenue or income, then, go to two percent, then three percent each month. Remember that the more you invest in your own personal and professional development, the more you will get back from it.
5. Attend meetings with others who are on the same path that you are on. Join a group or meet regularly with other colleagues who are top producers. Because the search business is so intense and depends so much on nuance and subtleties, it’s imperative that you plug in with a group of people who can support you and where you can support them.
6. Set training goals for yourself for the year, and break them down into weekly goals. How many CDs do you want to listen to? Which ones? Which books do you wish to read? Anytime you see a book you want to read, buy it and keep it in a stack to go through when you have the time. Go to the bookstore with a $100 bill and buy as many sales books or books on personal development as you can.
7. Find a mentor to guide you in your growth. It could be a manager, friend, co-worker, or even a professional coach who works in our industry like Gary Stauble.
8. Change the way you view training. I just returned from a trip where I spent the day training two very large MRI offices in Dallas. Both of these organizations possess a culture of achievement and share a positive outlook on training. This perspective on learning and training can transform a good recruiter into an amazing recruiter. (For a special report on developing a low-cost training program, email me at [email protected]).
Success is deliberate and intentional and does not occur because of random chance. There is a method and a process to it. The sooner you start to find out what creates success, the sooner you reap the rewards. Start today and adopt this model of ownership to your own development. Do it today. Do it now.