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To train or not to train – is that the question?

Posted: 12 August 2015

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking”

I’ve read that quote hundreds’ of times and sometimes I agree, sometimes I disagree. It’s by the American author; R. Buckminster Fuller. He lived to be almost 100 years old and during his long life wrote some really whacky/interesting books.

If you apply that quote to the recruitment industry, which is the point of my blog, it begs the question of training and more to the point – what should we be training our staff in or on?

When I first started out in my career (don’t groan because I’m doing the “when I was a lad” speech again) my first boss; Philip Gayle, used to insist that we had video training every Monday. My colleagues and I sat and watched that excitable guy with the striped shirt and braces tell us how to smile and dial, to always be closing and to stand up when we spoke to give ourselves more authority.

I laugh now when I recall watching him (was he called Anthony Burns?) and being both mesmerized and horrified at the prospects of trying to emulate his teachings whilst my boss listened in to my phone call – yes it was really like that back then!!

All of the training we received centered on selling and sales techniques, it was all about targets, CV send outs (by post or fax) and interviews logged. Now, I’m not complaining, the recruitment industry has been very kind to me and I have learned a lot. I’m an avid reader and a student of psychology. I’ve been on numerous training courses and have been lucky enough to engage with an executive coach (she’s called Jaqui Temperley if anybody is looking for an awesome boost).

However, looking back I wish that the training had placed more emphasis on customer service, subject matter expertise, project management, finance and accounting, psychology and behavioural traits.

At Rethink we invest heavily in training and development, we have dedicated internal trainers and of course, use the expertise of external trainers. The subject matters are broad and varied and we try to give our staff a well-rounded “education”. But I do sometimes wonder if we are doing enough – or are we training our staff in all of the right things?

Here’s an open question to anybody that might be reading this – if you work in recruitment (or sales in general) and money was no object, what would you like to be trained in (or on)?

Should we listen to the philosophy of R. Buckminster Fuller and the similar proverb about giving a man a fish that only feeds him for a day (I’m sure you know the rest) giving out new tools in the hope that a new way of thinking unfolds naturally or due to necessity? The worry is that approach may work for some personality types but leave others out in the cold.

Furthermore, sales training might help open doors, it might help give a compelling pitch and get you/us/me in front of a client but then what?

The “Internet of things” is the here and now, we live in a totally connected world where our customers have almost as much access to candidates as we (the recruitment population) do.

Training and development (in my humble opinion) is a vital part of any recruitment consultants armoury as long as it both stimulates the recipient and gives a differentiator.

If you want to join a recruitment company that puts training first, see our current opportunities here.