Quick one from me today as I’m more snowed under than the South Island.  I enjoyed an article shared by SEEK yesterday about Trust in the Workplace and the startling statistic that 83% of kiwis did not trust all of their colleagues.  It got me thinking about the recruitment industry and how central the theme of trust is in everything that we do.

Moving away from our own recruitment office environments, it’s often easy to forget the position of power we recruiters can be in at times.  Whilst the majority of us try our hardest to respect that power, remain accountable to the requirements of our clients and candidates, and repay the trust they put in us to represent their brand properly, and to advise candidates truthfully, we are at the end of the day human and there’s always going to be someone giving recruitment a bad name.

Although bad behaviour and abuses of trust seem to be becoming an almost weekly occurrence nowadays, the biscuit was surely taken last week by recruitment “consultant” Craig Dunn of Christchurch who, it has emerged, ripped off (mostly foreign) workers to the tune of $20,000 and gambled away the money.

What a guy.

His firm repaid the money to the temporary workers but you can imagine how his abuse of trust with their candidates will inevitably lead to a massive reduction in trust from that recruitment firm with its remaining employees going forward – and who could blame them?

But returning to the workplace, more specifically the recruitment office workplace, trust is one of the most important things in order to foster a culture of true collaboration and purpose.  Over the years of recruiting recruiters I have consistently found that the most successful recruitment firms, who experience the most steady and sustainable growth, and benefit from the higher retention rates that breed a stronger culture and higher productivity, have trust as a core feature.

I benefited from this first hand in my very first recruitment job where I was based in a regional office and reported into a manager in a Sydney head office.  Being left to my own devices had no negative impact on my performance at all, and that was repeated when I moved to New Zealand and worked in Auckland but reported in to a manager in Wellington.  Now some may say I am perhaps un-manageable so it’s just better this way, but this trust has formed the backbone of my own leadership style and recruitment culture in my own business.

On the flip side I spoke with a couple of recruiters from the same firm recently who bemoaned the lack of trust in their current firm.  Not just from management, but even worse, from their own colleagues where there were constant whispers about a culture of spying on one another!  Unsurprisingly they have a rather higher staff turnover rate than many of the other firms I deal with.

It is, as ever, a delicate balancing act for recruitment leaders.  We work in an industry where too much trust can sometimes lead to nightmares like experienced by the previous employer of Craig Dunn.  But too little, manifested in micro-management and toxic office politics, can be almost as damaging, or even more so, in the long run.

Be driven, be competitive, be ambitious, be influential, be obstinate and be accommodating.  Be a recruiter.  But be a decent human being too.  Make sure you repay the trust your leaders place in you to do your job properly and ethically.  You really wouldn’t want to be in a firm that was the other way around.  Trust me.

Jonathan Rice

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

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