Reputation Reputation

By: Kim Jones

Rumours have been abounding all week that another major competitor has just bitten the dust spectacularly but, until its confirmed – and maybe even afterwards – I think its best to leave that alone.

All in all, though, not very good for the reputation of the recruitment industry which is never that good anyway. Even in a world where ridiculous surveys - like the analysis of Oxford which cost the City Council £15,000 which found that the city had “a good university” - are the in-thing, you wont come across any polls that put recruitment anywhere near the top of the most admired way to spend your working life. No-one ever grows up with a burning desire to be in it, most end up in it by accident and – like many professions – there’s more than the odd practitioner who’d be more honest if they turned up to present wearing a Stetson and spurs, rather than a suit.

So when a major national paper recently featured a recruitment professional in a “How I made it” column I had high expectations that this would elevate the industry’s status to a new high of street level. Boy, was I disappointed. Our hero started off on his own by secretly arranging a big bank loan and taking a lease on an office above a nightclub, before persuading several of his current employer’s clients to give business to his new company. So far so tacky, but it got worse - he resigned by leaving his car keys on the receptionist’s desk, saying “see you, I’m off” and walking out without even having the guts to tell his former boss he was going.

As a blue print for success, I didn’t much rate this so Schadenfreude came to mind when I read that one of the clients he nicked went bust, costing him several thousand pounds.

A few years later, he decided to expand. Organically? Sadly no. Instead he reverted to his old tricks by opening a second office, staffing it by hiring four people from a competitor and getting them to bring clients with them. This time he was sued by his rival and had to pay £40,000 compensation.

Now, at this stage, you might think our hero doesn’t come across as very nice. And you’d be largely right about that because when, despite all his ducking and diving, his firm got into trouble yet again, he hired a management consultant to analyse the problems.

In a shock development, they found that the biggest problem was him - his management style of shouting, putting people under intolerable pressure and encouraging a ruthless culture where success meant you stayed and failure quite the opposite was dragging the whole place down.

Rather sadly, if you are from the treat people OK and things tend to work out OK side of the tracks, Mr. X then went on a few courses and is now doing very well indeed. But I can’t help feeling that underneath, nothing much has changed. His advice on building a company is simply to give it a go as “starting up a business is like taking part in a boxing match”.

In his case with below the belt punches positively encouraged, I’d imagine.

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In 1995, with Maria Manzo, he set up the UK office of BSA Advertising - a USA - owned agency - which he ran until deciding to set up Giraffe Advertising. Advertising Agency & Website Design Company London UK

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