‘I lost our biggest client’

22 Nov 2023 | Naomi Marshall

We made over 100 placements on behalf of this magnetic brand. Everyone wanted to work there; and we loved partnering with them. And dare I say, they loved working with us.

I was proud when they sent us a photo of all the placed employees sat together alongside the caption, ‘The Sprint Crew’.

So what on earth went wrong?!

I hired a new staff member; she was super enthusiastic and ready to prove herself. I knew she wasn’t ready to run a full recruitment process from end to end, but I believed she was ready to at least handle the candidate interviews component.

It was a tricky brief from our client for a receptionist: the salary was under market rate, the location was ‘city fringe’ and they also needed to be a very particular cultural fit.

It was a busy day, and I didn’t sit in on the candidate interviews as I usually would. I asked the junior consultant, ‘Did they fit the brief? The answer was a resounding ‘Yes! She’s really nice!’. Stop there, we don’t just place ‘nice’ – we place candidates to the brief, and we source people the client can’t identify themselves.

She assured me the candidate was perfect for the brief.

It turns out the candidate wasn’t ‘perfect’- she stuck her tongue out at the photo machine that takes the security photo when people arrive at front desk. The HR manager was mortified as the picture is then printed with your name and you are required to stick it on the front of you. A childish act which cost the candidate the job.

It also cost us the client.

They were furious. The HR Manager was new. She did not have an established history with us. She never wanted to deal with Sprint again.

Now let’s be clear here, I can’t control a candidate’s behaviour but I can control the service we provide. I should have also been in that interview with the consultant to guide her and assist her with her interviewing skills. I am sure I would have asked the right questions to ascertain her maturity levels.

It would be easy to say the candidate lost us the client, or the new consultant lost us the client – at the end of the day, Sprint has one owner and that’s me.

I’ll always take responsibility for any activity in the business – it’s my leadership mantra – that’s what true leadership is about.

My role isn’t to pass blame but to coach and guide you to the highest level of success.

It’s these big obstacles that provide you with the most important lessons.

I learned a lot.

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