Most Important Soft Skills of a Staffing Manager

ThinkstockPhotos-170083480That recruiter is an absolute genius at sourcing hard-to-find candidates.

And that sales rep? He breaks into accounts others couldn’t crack for years.

They’re great at their jobs, but do they have the “right stuff” to make a great staffing manager?

Staffing, search and placements are up – and where there’s growth, there are promotions and hiring. When it’s time to find your staffing firm’s next manager, here’s how to tell if a high performer has the soft skills to lead, execute and inspire.

A Great Staffing Manager:

Can work accounts while managing an office. Your candidate is obviously great at his job (otherwise, you wouldn’t be considering him for this role!). But can he be an effective “working manager”? Here are a few skills he’ll need:

  • Prioritization. A staffing manager must steer the ship – and not let it steer him. He needs to be able to decide what’s critical, what’s important and what can wait, and then create a clear plan for getting it all done.
  • Delegation. A “control freak” may make a great a great account manager, but he won’t cut it as an office manager. To actually get it all done, he needs to handle key priorities himself, and then hand-off other activities to the right people. Look for evidence that your candidate understands what he should do, as well as what he should delegate, to maximize his effectiveness as a leader.
  • Organization and attention to detail. A staffing office is comprised of a million parts – all in constant motion. Your manager must be able to simultaneously address a wide range of issues, without dropping a single ball. Consider how flexible your candidate’s “vision” is (i.e., his ability to see the company’s big-picture priorities, as well as the nitty-gritty, day-to-day activities that drive organizational success).
  • Leading by example. This isn’t a skill, per se, but it’s an essential attribute for any successful manager. If your candidate doesn’t have the drive and work ethic to manage key accounts and build your business along with the rest of the team, things won’t work long-term.

Adapts to changing market conditions. The staffing industry is a constantly swinging pendulum. When the economy is up, recruiting is the name of the game. And when it’s down, generating sales is the biggest challenge.

Make sure your management candidate understands:

  • The strategic role of staffing – and how to provide solutions that deliver value in any market conditions (i.e., by driving revenues or reducing expenses).
  • The nuances of today’s complex staffing industry. Even if your firm only provides temporary staffing, a manager must still understand managed services, on-site solutions, VMS technology, and the like to effectively diagnose clients’ “pain points” and create solutions that solve real business problems.
  • How to shift resources (i.e., people, capital, technology, talent networks) to capitalize on market and economic changes.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Buyers’ Annual Contingent Workforce Spend

Knows what’s around the next corner. A great staffing manager does more than help his office thrive in the current market conditions. He thinks ahead – and prepares his team for the next big shift. Look for indicators that your candidate:

  • Can predict market drivers. He must understand current and forecasted economic, employment and local market conditions that impact employers’ workforce needs as well as talent supply.
  • Can “connect the dots.” In addition to understanding what drives staffing supply and demand, your manager must know what his team needs to do today to prepare to capitalize on tomorrow’s opportunities.
  • Understands the role of technology today – and tomorrow – in a wide range of areas, such as compliance, risk management, business intelligence, recruiting, talent assessment and strategic workforce management. Staffing’s complexity will continue to increase. A smart manager will leverage technology to make processes simpler and more effective for all parties involved.

Good indicators? Look for a candidate who:

  • Reads the right stuff (the list is endless, but includes Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., SI Analysts, Staffing Talk, SHRM, relevant trade journals, etc.)
  • Asks thoughtful, strategic questions (internally, as well as externally).
  • Admits what he doesn’t know, but works to fill his knowledge gaps and find the best answers.

Has high emotional intelligence. Success in the staffing industry is predicated on creating great relationships – both within and outside the organization. And to build those bonds, a staffing manager needs empathy, exceptional communication skills and the ability to lead and inspire others. In other words, he needs high EQ!

When interviewing candidates, include a series of questions to gauge ability to:

  • Attune to the needs and feelings of others / appreciate a variety of perspectives
  • Understand his own emotions – and keep them under control
  • Admit and grow from mistakes
  • Listen “actively” (i.e., pay attention to everything a speaker communicates: what he says, what he doesn’t say, tone of voice and nonverbal cues) and use emotional information effectively
  • Conduct thoughtful discussions
  • Adapt communication style to his audience

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Tammi Heaton

Tammi Heaton
Tammi Heaton is COO of PrideStaff. She can be reached at theaton (at) pridestaff (dot) com.

Tammi Heaton

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One Response to “Most Important Soft Skills of a Staffing Manager”

  1. Marg Online says:

    Organization and attention to detail is one of the most important characteristic of a staffing manager and this can lead to create a successful career ahead. All these skill sets are essential and mandatory for any professional.

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