It’s quite possible the only thing a contract staffing organization has in common with mercenaries is that they’re highly skilled experts who don’t get half as much credit as they deserve for what they accomplish.

The Fallacy of Mercenaries, and Why You Should Rethink Your Approach to Contract Staffing

It’s quite possible the only thing a contract staffing organization has in common with mercenaries is that they’re highly skilled experts who don’t get half as much credit as they deserve for what they accomplish.

It’s one of the talking points of startups. Danger, Will Robinson! Your team will fail if you bring in mercenaries rather than missionaries.

The idea is that mercenaries are just in it for the money. They don’t have to uphold your principles. They’re dangerous because you have very little control over their actions. The damage they can cause is usually inflicted before you’re aware of it. By then, the consequences are your problem. The mercenary has moved on to the next entity that will pay for their services.

Back in the day …

It’s an interesting theory, and it certainly applies to those throughout history who chose the mercenary life. Also known as a soldier of fortune, the mercenary is often regarded as the second oldest profession in the world.

And while there are always exceptions to the rule, mercenaries have proven to be extremely loyal and interested in creating successful partnerships. Look no further than the Swiss Guard if you want an example.

Europe’s armies have employed Swiss mercenaries since the 1400s. They made up a large part of the soldiers involved in the French Revolution. A contingent of Swiss mercenary soldiers began serving as bodyguards for the pope in 1506.

They continue to do so today, even though Switzerland has banned citizens from working as mercenaries. How loyal are they? During an attack on Rome in 1527, nearly 80 percent of the mercenary members of the Swiss Guard were killed while defending Pope Clement VII from being captured.

Sanctioned by presidents

Want another example? After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt permitted the formation of what become known as the Flying Tigers. It was a group of mercenary pilots under contract.

Air Force pilots at the time received around $260 a month. The Flying Tigers were paid up to $750 a month, as well as a $500 bonus for each Japanese airplane shot down. Their P-40 fighters were slower and less maneuverable than enemy aircraft, yet the Flying Tigers eventually took out 296 Japanese enemy planes and sunk more than 1,300 boats. They managed to lose only about 25 of their crew and less than 70 aircraft.

When the Flying Tigers were disbanded as a group in 1942, many of its members were asked to join other military units, where they served until World War II came to an end.

Can you do it?

Alexander the Great employed mercenaries. They fought alongside the legendary leader’s regular army. Many of these mercenaries were foreign nationals. Why would this military genius infuse his army with mercenaries?

We’ll jump forward to today to snag a contemporary buzzword. Core competencies. Alexander the Great employed mercenaries for the specific skills they possessed – which his army did not.

Rethinking the idea of the mercenary

What have we learned about mercenaries? First of all, it’s a misleading name? It gives us visions of people only in it for the money, who don’t share your values, and who will use whatever’s at their means to produce for you. Who would want people with that sort of reputation taking care of finding employees for you?

In reality, mercenaries share little in common with these stereotypes. They are interested in creating long-term partnerships, as demonstrated by the Swiss Guard and the Flying Tigers. They are brought in by smart leaders because they are experts in recruiting – which likely is not a core competency of the organization that retains them. Finally, they are professionals that share the same values as the companies they are asked to make successful.

It’s quite possible the only thing a contract staffing organization has in common with mercenaries is that they’re highly skilled experts who don’t get half as much credit as they deserve for what they accomplish.

There are of course some bad missionaries. That’s been played throughout history, too. The British had no army to put down a rebellion of colonists during the American Revolutionary War. The majority of its 30,000 soldiers were busy keeping Ireland under control. Meanwhile, the colonists were able to muster up an army of more than 50,000 volunteers.

So, Britain turned to Catherine the Great of Russia. She promised them 20,000 mercenaries. She never delivered. She also kept the first installment of cash.

But not to worry. At Consultis, we take your IT staffing needs very seriously. We want to pair you with the best possible IT staff for your project. So, contact us to discuss your needs today.