Failure isn't fatal

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Two years ago we launched Beeken Reeves. We knew why we wanted to set up our own recruitment consultancy, we knew what we wanted to achieve, we had a plan in place and, rather naively, we felt that we were aware of everything that might go wrong. Growing a start-up is rewarding, enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling. With investment and support from Recruitment Entrepreneur we’ve been able to create our own culture, our own level of service and hire our own people. And we’ve seen some great success; we’ve worked alongside global companies to help them find top level candidates and supported some brilliant people in progressing their career. In the main, the process has been hugely rewarding – but as always, when working with people, there’s an element of unpredictability and there are always things that you would have preferred to work out differently.

How to fail successfully:

The natural reaction is to hide failure, focus on the good things, not the bad and brush embarrassment swiftly under the carpet. The instinct is to try to forget and move on so quickly that rarely is anything learnt or gained. The recruitment industry as a whole doesn’t take to failure well; naturally competitive and fast-moving, we exist through success - placing candidates, winning clients and hiring good people.

But when failure is staring you in the face, think about swallowing your pride: take a step back and properly review what went wrong. The nature of our industry means that human behaviour is at the core of our remit – and in turn, nothing is black and white, as the process is reliant on factors such as personality, EQ, perception, instinct. Understanding the catalysts, the actions and the circumstances behind why the process failed is a golden opportunity for self-improvement that should never be missed.

Understanding this has been at the core of our business and we have seen the benefits. Our staff feel confident not only discussing their wins, but also talking about their losses, establishing what happened and understanding why, reducing the risk of repeating old mistakes. We want to ensure that we are continually honing our skills and developing our staff.

Maximise the opportunity

Some of my tips:

  • Create an open forum: set aside 30 minutes to talk honestly about what went wrong – without the whole truth this won’t work; you need all the facts in order to objectively analyse them
  • Remove feelings, prejudice and bias: ensure that people feel comfortable to talk about what has happened, without fear of repercussion
  • Talk about alternative solutions: analyse how different actions could lead to a different result
  • Establish a new strategy: overcoming failure is about learning how to avoid future pitfalls and improving yourself

At Beeken Reeves, we have a completely open environment. We are aware that, at times, people will fail but we talk about, we learn from these mistakes and collectively it ensures we all improve. We discuss failure with our clients and candidates, we want someone to improve and progress after an interview, we want our clients to recognise why they missed out on the best talent.

Face your failure, and take the opportunity to begin again, but this time – more intelligently.

By Chris Reeves, co-CEO and founder, Beeken Reeves.

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