Kim blames herself for allowing a talented consultant to slip through the net.

Finding staff can be difficult but sometimes you just drop on what you hope is the right person for the job. Recently a position became available in the shop for a full-time member of staff; I already had a couple of CVs in my drawer but one in particular grabbed my attention.

I called her and had a telephone conversation, which is very important as much of our work is done over the phone. Feeling satisfied, I invited her for an interview.

She was a lovely girl who obviously knew the job very well. She answered all my questions and offered far more than I was expecting.

I liked her, she came across really well. Having worked for a multiple for 13 years some time ago, she was in a role that she didn’t enjoy – and said she wanted to be a travel agent for the rest of her life.

The only thing I noticed was that she had a certain aura of sadness about her, which I later found out was because she had recently lost her mother, and her dog.

Fast starter

She started working for us and within two days she had her computer organised, had done her insurance exam and got to grips with our in-house systems. I was very impressed because I had never seen this level of capability before.

As time passed, she proved to be a fantastic team player, always offering to help her colleagues with their administration, tickets, enquiries and anything else they needed doing. I gave her the window offers to change each week and clients started noticing the fabulous deals she was creating and praised her for this.

However, during this time I noticed her sales were suffering. She was not lifting her head to greet customers, and I was concerned. We chatted about it and she said that, after listening to what the other team members do, she wasn’t sure she could do the same.

Many of our clients book luxury tailor-made and more complex itineraries, and she found that very different to what she was used to. I explained that it would take time and that with so many new customers coming through the door she could build her own client base; I even suggested she could be sales/administration assistant for a while, not wanting to put her under too much pressure.

Low self-esteem

I mentioned this to the other girls so they were aware of the situation, knowing they would help. We had regular conversations in which I tried to build her confidence and self-esteem, but after a year she felt she was never going to live up to expectations and handed in her notice.

I was gutted, and still blame myself for not explaining or recognising the difference between what she was used to doing and what we do. It never even occurred to me that it was so different.

I learnt a massive lesson for the future, and will bear it in mind with future appointments.

It’s a fine line between sales and pressure

I think there is a very fine line between expecting new staff to achieve their targets and putting them under pressure to do so. Encouragement and one-to-one conversations are very important but, vitally, it is also important not to add too much pressure.

There is also a need to think outside the box and look at each person’s all-round value to the shop – to look beyond administration and marketing.

It’s good to praise staff for their contribution to the running of the shop, and not to get too hung up on sales too soon. Sometimes, it can take longer to settle into an already strong team.