Headhunting – integrating your talent

Many property firms headhunt outstanding QSs from rivals to bring that person’s greatness into their own organisation. But this doesn’t always bring the rewards that were originally intended. The headhunted QS finds the new firm’s culture and systems at odds with the very things that made them great at their previous employer. In this new role, they struggle and soon lose their ‘greatness’ sheen. This isn’t their fault or weakness. Great people are created when their values, aims and goals align with those of their firm. In this piece we explore who is best to headhunt to your firm and how you should manage and support them, so they can achieve even greater results in your organisation.

Who are the great people in your firm?


To answer this question, you first need to consider what ‘great’ means to you and your firm. What does it look and feel like, both in terms of the cultural fit with the rest of the firm and in relation to the specifics of the job? In looking to headhunt QSs from rival firms, which firms best fit with your style and way of doing things? The closer that firm’s culture and systems are to you, the easier it will be for your headhunted talent to integrate and become a star performer in your organisation too. So consider your firm’s goals and the values and ethos behind them. These will form the basis for the profiles of the QSs who will indeed be best suited to your firm.

A question of attraction


As well as considering the attractiveness of possible employees, QS firms also need to consider their own attractiveness if they are to ‘woo’ a QS away from their current employer. Some firms assume that attractiveness comes by simply offering a larger salary, but this isn’t always the case. QSs are becoming more discerning in who they work for. Many are evaluating a firm’s culture, values, work vs life balance, systems and technology and corporate social responsibility activities before committing to work for them. The best QS firms are realising this and considering their ‘employer’ brand just as much as they do their client-facing one. They plan and put measures in place to create the right image and reputation to attract the right people to their business.  Such planning takes into account:

  • The message their ‘employment’ experience sends out into the marketplace.
  • How positive the recruitment experience.
  • The flexibility of assessment, rewards and recognition procedures to accommodate the different motivations of individuals.
  • The efficiency and quality of their systems.
  • The work vs life balance.
  • The competitiveness of salaries to other firms in the marketplace.

Life beyond recruitment

Historically, some firms felt that once you headhunted a talented individual you could just leave them to do their thing and, in time, reap the rewards of their success. More recently, QS firms are realising that this isn’t the best option for them or the QS. Even if the individual fits the right desired profile for the firm, they need help integrating into their new environment.  They will need support so they can be as successful as they were in their last firm.

The best integration occurs when a firm and a QS are clear about each other’s expectations. Creating opportunities for both to voice their desires and concerns will, in time, help to build trust and respect between the two. Both the QS and the firm need to be clear about each other’s strengths, their motivations and the preferred styles of working. With this understanding the firm can position the QS in the best environment, where they can:

  • Identify the most suitable people to motivate and stimulate that individual to go from strength to strength.
  • Select the best rewards and recognition that will motivate and stimulate the QS to achieve even greater performance.
  • Avoid any added responsibilities that could detract from what the QS is good at (and would demotivate them).

It’s easy to build a person’s skill-set and capabilities, it’s harder to build their motivation and engage their support. Like clients, once motivation and trust is gone it is very hard to re-engage. Motivating great headhunted people to stay isn’t about pandering to QSs at all costs. In the long-term this strategy won’t work for either party. Instead it’s about giving people a voice and aligning their ambitions to the corporate aspirations of the firm. It’s about bringing people together who will deliver brilliant solutions to the business and who will be highly motivated in doing so and satisfied with the results.

Thoughts to take away to get the most from ‘headhunted’ talent’:

  1. Consider the profile of the talent you need – What values, behaviours and attitudes are needed as well as technical capabilities?
  2. Consider the culture, systems and approach of your firm – Which other organisations are similar and would have QSs who would integrate more easily into your firm?
  3. What reputation do you need to foster to grab the attention of the individuals you want? – Talk to your own people about why they chose to work for you.
  4. Consider your recruitment process – is it a positive experience? Does it enable both you and the candidate to articulate your ambitions and expectations?  Can you identify what motivational factors will be important to the QS?
  5. Think about your induction process – is it a positive experience?  Does it dampen or heighten the QS’s enthusiasm?
  6. Consider the people ‘fit’ of the group the QS is joining – Who would they achieve great things by working with?
  7. Map out review points where you and the QS can take stock of how things are going. Take these seriously and ensure both sides are committed to actioning any points that come out of them.
  8. Appreciate that goals and ambitions change over time – use review points to also spot and react to the changes as they occur.