The search for value: invest in your recruitment process to get the results you want

Price is what you pay, value is what you get". It's a nice quote from Warren Buffet, the so-called 'Sage of Omaha'. He's one of the world's richest men so he should know what he's talking about but just what is it that constitutes 'value'? Without getting too deep into economic theory, most of us can readily agree on what our costs are. Generally we are talking finance, and a quick glance at our bank accounts or credit card bills usually does the trick, but when it comes to assessing value well, that's an altogether more complex affair.

I raise the question of value as it's a word that's bandied about a lot in business and one that sparked a debate here last week when we held the first day of our new in-house training and development programme. We've got a good range of age and experience in our business and it's always interesting to see how the different groups react to different scenarios. Those of us who have been in the grocery and fresh food supply chain for a number of years were highly amused when, referring to a recent assignment, one of the 'new boys' expressed the view that really, as we'd been able to find them a solution quickly and save them money, his client should really be paying us more money, not still be trying to negotiate the fee down!

There was clearly not much recognition of 'added value' for him in that scenario, but perhaps a clear lesson that the perception of value can be very personal. One of the characteristics that Warren Buffet is acknowledged for is his approach to investment. He's regarded by many as the ultimate 'value investor'. In other words, he's generally in for the long haul and looks to create value over a number of years. The other thing about Buffet is that he is not just a passive investor, he actively engages with the businesses he invests in to look after his interests and make those investments work. So he works hard to make sure he gets the 'value' he's after.

I can't promise it will get you close to $50bn, but that's not a bad analogy for how businesses and individuals can go about extracting the best value from the relationships they have with their recruiters. The key word here is 'relationship', and that means effective and meaningful communication. The most successful investors keep a watchful eye on the stock market. Likewise, the most successful businesses work with key partners in their markets to make sure they don't miss out on rising stars. Keeping a watchful eye on cost is key to any successful business, but in order to generate real value you need to manage your investments. After all, that's what your recruitment process should be investment in the future of your business.n

Guy Moreton is director of recruitment practitioner MorePeople