Mark Hall: "Do what you say you’re going to do, even when it hurts. That builds trust and trust builds culture."

December 15th, 2016
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“Do what you say you’re going to do, even when it hurts. That builds trust and trust builds culture.”
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Softly spoken and filled with humility, Mark is the opposite of the recruitment stereotype. He’s proud to work with integrity and never wants to compromise his morals for a quick buck or the right fee. He’s in this business because he fundamentally believes in helping people, and talking to him is a lot like being injected with a breath of fresh air.

 So how did you end up in this crazy game called recruitment?

Do you want the short version? You want the medium version? Or you want the longer?

Umm your choice, I’m all ears.  

Well I basically answered a blind advertisement that said if you have 9 things on this list, we want to hear from you. I had 9 things.

Why did you set up on your own?

I got tired of the ethics.

What do you mean?

Well I have three daughters and I couldn’t hold my children accountable where you don’t lie, you don’t cheat, you don’t steal, yet their father’s goes to work for a company that not only condones it but they intensify it. That’s when our business was born.

It sounds like you had some bad experiences in business.

I just couldn’t stand the hypocrisy, I knew there had to be a better way. You don’t have to have the integrity and the ethics of a snake in order to be successful in this business. My business was born from my frustration, about how the industry works in particular how the industry doesn’t work. People playing God and putting people in the jobs so they could make more of a fee there, instead of thinking long term.

Do we need to change the people or the model?

It goes back to the heart of individuals doing the work. You can’t make a good deal bad and you can’t make a bad deal good. Often times, the root of what makes the essence of who people are, is who they are, you can’t change that.

You’ve been in recruitment many years, you must have seen so much. What keeps you going?

I made a decision a long time ago to do something that is going to impact more and more lives, so this goes back to who I am as a person and my faith. I could just sit at home and do 10, 15 deals a month, but I don’t believe that’s what God called me to do. It would be pretty boring too.

Yeah there’s not so many people to talk to at home.

Exactly. I mean, I love my wife dearly, but we decided a long time ago to not work together. We’d rather stay married.

I suppose a great marriage is better than a great coworker.

Correct.

I don’t suppose there would be much to talk about either over dinner.

Right! These days we can talk about grandkids and our date nights. We just had the 40th anniversary of our first date.

Congratulations. There’s hope out there for the rest of us then.

Absolutely. She was 14 and I was 15 when we started dating.

Oh my god! (I’m pretty sure I was still climbing a tree as a wild child at the age of 14). That blows my mind.

Well, we love each other more today than we did then. That’s the piece that blows peoples minds.

Yeah that’s incredible. I mean, I can’t get a man to text me back, let alone anything else. But I digress…

So you feel you’re doing a higher calling?

Well again, if you want to that path, then yes. I believe that God has called me to this in particular. I’m actively involved in a number of marketplace ministries and an organization called Tribute Work that I’ve been involved in about 20 years. It is an organization of Christian CEOs around the United States. If you look around our offices there is the occasional bible, but it’s not about that. We have Muslims who work here, atheists, agnostics; it’s not about beating over peoples head. But people will know you by how you treat them, and inevitably what happens and at some point they can look at you say that ‘okay, there’s something different about you. I want to understand more about you.’ We need to make profit; we need to make money. We are not a charity. The profit becomes the lifeblood that does good in hundreds and hundreds of families. So absolutely, it’s a calling. I believe God has called me to do this.

Do you ever think that having that affinity with your religion, and being open about it, has hindered you at all?

Absolutely, but the thing about this is, it has opened more doors than it’s closed.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you?

My own deficiencies as a leader.

Wow, that’s incredibly candid.

It really is. I give every person every chance, and that has cost me dearly. It’s the challenge of getting over needing to be liked as a leader.

What advice would you give to those who struggle with leadership?

Get a business coach, that is a third party, that will hold you accountable and give you that kick. And accept that sometimes you’re going to be wrong.

I mean, a lot of the time you’re going to be wrong.

Absolutely. And as men, we have big egos, we don’t always like hearing that.

Don’t get me started.

I have a huge ego, I’ll be the first to tell you that. Learning to manage that has been helpful with a coach.

It’s impressive that you can admit it, not many men would.

Well when you’re confident in yourself you can. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m flawed in so many ways.

How important is culture to you?

There’s the culture that you promote (which is often fantasy) and the culture that is. Which is the culture you really live.

The culture that is, is what’s most important. The reality that happens day in and day out.

So how do you create that?

It’s a whole bunch of little things, you can’t take a pill and magically have great culture. You have to begin with an embodiment of trust. Do what you say you’re going to do, even when it hurts.

What is The Movement to you?

For me it’s about the art of recruiting and how you capture that. We’ve captured the data and the science, but never the art.

What is the art?

I have a theory called the snowflake theory. Every snowflake is made from the exact same way, but every snowflake is different. Each individual situation in recruitment is different. Every deal is different in terms of how it’s executed etc. The art is the creation of each unique individual deal.

Have we lost the art a little bit?

Absolutely. So many people drive just on metrics alone. If all you worry about is metrics, you’ve lost the soul and human element.

Do we need to change the model of recruitment?

I would say change the people, not the model.

How do we even do that?

Build trust.

It sounds very utopian.

It absolutely is.

Isn’t it unrealistic?

Well you have to balance that with metrics. You wouldn’t let a new kid go off without boundaries would you.

What if you had someone in the business that was an amazing biller, but didn’t share your moral code?

I’ve got three of them working back here.

Oh!

Just because I see the world a certain way, doesn’t mean everyone around me has to see it in the same way. I wouldn’t let them cross ethical, moral or legal lines with me, but believe what you want.

I wouldn’t trade money for my integrity.

That’s nice to hear.

Well if you don’t have integrity, what do you have?

Absolutely nothing as my mother tells me.

Your mother is a very wise person.

I’ll be sure to pass that along.

Well at 55 I’ve been around business a long time. We never had a lot growing up, and I was raised to work hard and well. Just because the world is changing around me, doesn’t mean I have to start lying and cheating.

For a man that says he has a huge ego, I really don’t see it. I’ve never quite met someone in our industry with so much humility around the work that he does. I’ve also never met someone who’s in this game to answer a higher calling from God, and who’s so openly proud of it. In a secular world where personal views are kept under the carpet, Mark Hall is just what this world needs more of.

Would you like to work in recruitment in London?