The Educated Boss

02 December 2021 Giles Keay


​I have been very absent from posting online with my regular "Constructive Tips" over the past few months due to finding myself over the last couple of years back on the tools and recruiting once again, I have found the challenging nature of the industry take a hold on me whilst also dealing with the pandemic, a lockdown and the emotional toll that it took on both myself and many around me.  The harder it got…  the harder I worked and the more frustrating it became.

I have been frustrated with ghosting, candidate control, counter offers, lack of urgency from clients & candidates, random acts/incidents, the difficulty with time management having a 10 year old at home and trying to home school, whilst juggling housework and generally just trying to stay sane!  I had a run of 8 consecutive placements fall over at offer/reference stage in a 6 week period which looking back over the 100's consultants I have managed is probably one of the worst runs I am aware of.

The question you may ask is  why am i stating all these facts, am I whingeing, (possibly a little), am I looking for some comfort and encouragement (possibly a little), but really what I want to put out there to all senior management and business owners is the idea to spend some real time focused on what your team does day to day.  I am not talking about "lip service" to make you look or feel good in front of your team, I am talking about getting down and dirty in the trenches.

So firstly I want to say to everyone who has ever worked with me over the previous 17 years..... I wish I knew then what I know now!

Quite seriously, as you progress down the management path you become more and more distant from the day to day and just as importantly the emotional rollercoaster of the operations and sales of your business.  I am relating my own experiences to recruitment as that is my game however, this concept clearly applies to any industry or sector and the reality of the issues and emotional pain that your team are facing become more and more distant.

My advice is not to just get involved with what they are doing, or partake in a small part of the process I am suggesting going full steam into their roles for a good week or better still see a single process from start to finish whilst you feel the entire end to end at least once a year, 100%, 360 degrees, all in!!!!  I used to go out on client meetings to help win business, I would train and develop new staff showing them how to interview and reference and the different steps in the process however, what I never did was run the whole process start to finish and I would challenge most business owners of any company of scale to have done dissimilar.   I believe that unless you run the process end to end and see it in its full glory you truly will not understand the areas you need.

Undercover Boss was a great TV series for a few years and I always thought it was a good idea but to be honest I always felt there were more important and urgent tasks at hand to resolve.  The concept was great for the senior manager to discover how the business was operating and how the service was being provided to their clients and what needed to be improved... my idea is about being an "Educated Boss" is to truly  experience how the business works right now, not when you may have done the role before you moved up the ladder.

From someone who has found themselves back at the coal face my understanding is as sharp as it has ever been, complement that with years of experience any manager or business owner would create a massive competitive advantage for their teams and their business if they were to take this action each year.