KPI: 3 little letters that fill us with dread

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Are Key Performance Indicators right for every recruitment business?

Having moved from a large corporate machine to a small start-up in a completely different discipline, I can see that really, it is not a ‘one size fits all’ model for KPIs.

A major KPI enforced in my previous role was phone time or, as they called it, ‘Tiger Time’. Quite apt really, as it did resemble a ravenous beast that would chase you through the week. The trepidation of the expectant wrath of your Manager in your Monday morning meeting was hardly a motivating way to start your week, especially if you knew you were a bit light the week before.

We all know that a recruiter’s day can change drastically, despite the detailed plan hopefully drawn up in front of us. The fifteen Business Development calls you had planned suddenly slip away into the ether when suddenly, you must deal with your pipeline, sort out issues with contractors and pay, or have an urgent job come in which needs to be serviced ASAP. We all know too well that you can lose a morning in the blink of an eye. A client visit could see you out of the office for an entire morning – but throw in a candidate meeting, and a new vacancy - and all of a sudden you’ve had 10 minutes on the phone and just two outbound calls.

Conversations amongst team members and the discovery that you’re at least ten calls behind the rest of the team can lead to pointless phone calls to hot clients to talk about an ongoing process, calling your mum or, the worst I’ve ever heard, involved a consultant calling his own mobile and setting it down for 20 minutes.

In my current role, I have experienced success without being whipped by KPIs and instead, have been given guidance about what works and it’s all common sense really…

  • Meet your candidates and dedicate a good amount of time each week
  • Get out and meet clients whether you have jobs on or not; get out and build relationships for the future.
  • Don’t be afraid of picking up the phone and get as much as possible out of the call. It’s about quality not quantity.
  • Adverts, adverts, adverts - ensure that you are posting your very best work.
  • Writing descriptive literature about each individual and broadcasting their details through the medium of email marketing.
  • Work hard, work smart and work fast. Doing it right the first time.

Understanding clients’ and candidates’ needs and delivering on what you promise them is unmeasurable.

It goes without saying that KPIs provide managers with important information about what their consultants are doing, but do they translate into genuinely useful data and are some KPIs actually counter-productive? Isn’t it possible that KPI’s can provide a smoke screen for bad recruiters, who are able to hit the activity numbers even though their work has little content or quality?

If consultants are not making placements, then maybe then it is time for Managers to go back to basics and establish where they are going wrong. Targets should be used as a guide and marker to help to monitor a consultant’s progress, rather than being a tool to whip them with.

Written by Danny Jillions, Managing Director of Clarus Education