The Last Word Jan/Feb 2023: Alan Furley

Is recruitment’s motivation the reason it struggles to achieve its goals?

Recruitment companies come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing recruiters think we have in common is motivation.

The topic of motivation in January is particularly timely. Most of us search for it to shed the Christmas pounds, get out running every day and juice after an early morning meditation.

But what I found in 2022, in particular, is the truth of Motivation Myth author Jeff Haden’s premise that “motivation is not something you just get – it’s something you create”.

What does that mean? Well, at first glance, and particularly to those outside the industry, motivation in the recruitment world appears to be pretty simple – we all want to make money. And, again, whether that’s just to pay your bills or pay the wages of 1,000 employees, it’s a fairly standard reason to get out of bed every day.

Motivation is not something you just get – it’s something you create”

Having spent a lot of time in the past couple of years with start-up and scale-up founders, however, there is more to motivation than meets the eye.

For me, motivation this year, apart from perhaps a desire to see the CV disappear, lies much more within being a trusted adviser around hiring, talent and retention. A personal goal is to support 100+ founders looking to scale their teams.

At ISL Talent we, of course, want to be highly profitable, but retention of our team and our clients, and helping them grow, is a real motivation too.

We want to work with people who are partners, where we transcend the role of ‘supplier’; we want to work ‘better’, to build something that is of value beyond money.

I’m sure you will have your own ideas of what it is that motivates you.

The key is to recognise all the different factors that must link up for us to create the one thing that will motivate us the most – success in our mission.

So, we need to be clear about what success looks like and find a way to achieve it that works.

Haden’s argument is that the reason the ‘successful’ business you want to emulate is in that position is not because they are inherently ‘better’ than you, rather that they worked out a repeatable process that guarantees success. Once you have this, you can be motivated to greatness.

From a business perspective this is critical, but it’s also a great philosophy for life. Steve Jobs famously said: “Everything around you that you call ‘life’ was made up by people who were no smarter than you, and you can change it.”

As we embark on another year, this ideology will be at the heart of my motivation journey to ensure that in recruitment we can change perceptions, change attitudes and change the way we work with business.

Primarily, of course, that’s a selfish motivation. I’m doing it largely for ISL Talent, and all the people that directly benefits. But I’m also doing this for our industry, because I believe, collectively, we can show success isn’t simply about money.

To achieve this, we must move beyond initial short-term goals and work with clear vision and true understanding of what works for the person, the company and for its wider business impact. Creating the process to achieve these things means we will have moved beyond acceptance of perceived limits to something meaningful, long-lasting and genuinely successful. What more motivation do you need?

Alan Furley is co-Founder and CEO of ISL Talent

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