How training helped recruitment business 4it stay away from the industry’s traditional ‘hit and run’ attitude

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Anyone who works in a professional environment has probably had at least some contact with recruitment companies, so will be well aware of how standards in the industry aren’t always as good as they could be. John Edwards, managing director of 4it Recruitment which specialises in the supply of digital, IT and business change professionals, turned to training experts Quarterdeck to ensure his team didn’t fall into the trap of treating candidates like a commodity.

In such a competitive industry with a shortage of high-quality people, he believes it’s more important than ever to treat candidates with respect and establish a relationship.

“Recruitment has a pretty awful image as a commoditised, sales-led, smash-and grab way of  doing business,” explains John. “If you’re doing a ‘hit and run’ type of sales operation, as many recruiters do, it really doesn’t matter that they’re going to leave a bad impression because they’re going to get their fee paid through gritted teeth in any case.”

After more than 20 years in recruitment providing IT personnel on a permanent and contract basis, the 4it team in Leeds has adopted a client-focused, service-led and value-adding philosophy that has driven its growth since 1998. They know that focusing on short term performance can be bad for business and appreciate the importance of having people with the right attitude.

4it director Esther Procter adds: “People are absolutely vital to the process. If they don’t offer the right service, if they do something badly with a client, you could lose that client. If they do things that are not great with a candidate, they won’t recommend us or that will bring down our NPS score.”

John and Esther have built a successful and sustainable company and wanted to accelerate the growth curve they had established. A review of the business identified areas for further skills growth including in the field of leadership. So they turned to Quarterdeck for help.

“Before we started the Quarterdeck process we had realised that anybody who was in any sense a leader in the business needed to train. So we engaged a whole cohort of people in the process with some great results,” says John. “Wanting to learn and get better is hugely important – that culture of up-skilling and of believing you can be better is vital and gets things done.”

Knowing that they needed to lead by example, Esther and John undertook Quarterdeck’s training with the team.

“The Quarterdeck training is engineered to return real results for participants. It required a lot from them and indeed from us,” explains John. “It is so powerful that people say ‘this is life changing!’; so far, everybody has said that. And, for me, it is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.”

Quarterdeck’s focus on practical skills, generating real changes and shying away from a theoretical approach to leadership was appreciated by Esther: “I like the fact that you don’t just go in and learn about all the management tools and everything else, it’s about the stuff that’s fundamental across your whole life. I like the fact that you’re in a group and everyone’s experiencing and talking about different scenarios and you’ve got that real support network. It brings everyone out to really  maximise what they are going to do and how they are going to do it.”

The impact of the training very quickly became evident. Esther comments: “Training makes everything better, it’s all cascading down and we’re creating one big team that’s working towards the progression and growth of the business. With the changes that we’ve made, we’re turning roles around really quickly now, and it’s empowering people. For me, it’s about the energy, it’s about the enthusiasm, the positivity, how we communicate and get our message across properly.”

While Quarterdeck doesn’t give specific business advice, they will change attitude and behaviour.

“If I hadn’t been on this course, we wouldn’t have done a big overhaul and restructure of the business,. And it’s working, we’re turning things around quickly. The revenue is definitely going to   increase on the back of that,” says Esther.

John adds:”I also see it from another perspective, Esther has driven those changes where previously she might not have done so with such confidence, that was because of the extra ‘just go and do it’ attitude built on the back of the Quarterdeck training. You’ve got the tools, you’ve got the ability, it’s that awareness that Quarterdeck has brought.”

The values Quarterdeck helps people develop on the course are one of the key tools participants can use in the real world to improve their leadership skills and these values, in combination with the 360 assessment, guide participants about how to improve their interactions.

“To say we’re in recruitment is true, but to say we’re a professional business service provider and consultancy would be more accurate,” explains John. This requires us to be leaders at a client level, peer-to-peer. Many clients work with Quarterdeck because they realise the difference between  management and leadership and why it’s important, 4it are no different – we want leaders every time, we don’t want managers,” concludes John. ” There’s a certain amount of management required just to make processes work but leadership is by far the best, it’s like marketing trumps sales, leadership trumps management, it’s a way, way better way of doing it, but goodness me, it’s harder.”

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