1985 called… and they want their KPI’s back.

The candidate market in recruitment is tighter than a hipster’s jeans right now…back to the2

Recruitment Agencies are crying out for the best staff and some (the clever ones) are putting together creative packages to attract the top talent. The smart agencies have also locked their top performers in… with attractive commission structures, career plans, professional development opportunities and flexibility in the workplace… And… then you have the companies that aren’t so smart…

Let me recount a recent telephone conversation I had with a prospective new client… oh… and they called me.

‘Hi Craig. My name’s Trevor Maggot… you can call me Trev.’ Nice introduction right? ‘I own a boutique Accounting & Finance Recruitment Agency and I’m looking to hire a Senior Consultant’

‘Great… Trev.’ I respond. ‘Can I ask how you came across us?’

‘Sure.’ Trev replied. ‘You can highly recommended by someone in my network.’ Good ol’ Mum I can always count on her to toot my horn (figuratively… not literally).

The conversation went on. I asked about the company, size, markets, business mix, verticals, culture, billing expectations… and then I asked Trev about how they measure the success of their consultants.

‘Oh Craig.’ Trev responded. ‘We are all about outcomes, not activities.’

‘Right.’ I added. ’So the outcome is the monthly billing expectation? And that was $30k per month right?’

‘Yep.’ Trev agreed. ‘We do have some key activities we require all of our consultants to complete, but primarily we are driven by outcomes.’

‘OK… so what are the activities?’

‘Well,’ Trev began. ‘We require all consultants to achieve a minimum of 100 telemarketing calls a week. 10 Client visits, 15 Candidate interviews and 20 Candidate Introductions.’

back to the 3‘That’s quite a list.’ I countered. ‘But if you’re outcomes driven… does that mean that consultants who are ahead of budget have flexibility around those KPI’s?’

‘Firstly,’ Trev responded… a hint of caution and dare I say defence creeping into his voice. ‘They’re not KPI’s as such… they are activities… and secondly there is no flexibility… the activities must be completed weekly.’

‘Soooo…’ I probed (again figuratively… not literally). ‘If your consultant is… say… smashing their budget month in month out… you know… like billing $50k per month. Do you still require them to hit those KPI’s… sorry activities?’

‘Yes.’ Trev replied…

Needless to say we aren’t working with Trev.

The moral of this sorry tale is… Recruitment Owners, the top talent out there is self-motivated, driven, commercial… and… grown up. Treat them like it!

Not only that, but the best consultants understand that you don’t achieve the best outcomes by smashing out telesales calls… I mean have you been listening at all to clients over the past 10 years? They hate the telemarketing mentality… the ambulance chasing… the energy it takes them to say no to 30 calls from new recruiters every week. It’s archaic and it’s wrong.

The smart recruiters are proactive. They know their ratios and they know how to build relationships.

Back_to_the_Future1I understand there is a place for activity based KPI’s… for junior consultants and those learning the ropes. And also as a performance management tool when experienced consultants are struggling…

But for performing Consultants there’s absolutely no place in our industry for activity based KPI’s… unless you jump in a DeLorean and head back to 1985…

Craig Watson


3 thoughts on “1985 called… and they want their KPI’s back.

  1. NIgel Mills on Reply

    Hi Craig,
    Solid post – can’t & won’t disagree with anything here.
    One question; would you have taken on the role if Trev had’ve dropped the “Senior” from the role title?


    1. Craig Watson on Reply

      Hi Nigel,
      Good Point. I think I would have asked more questions around level of experience, what they were trying to achieve and what training was involved to achieve the activity. I think it is far more important to set individual activities on consultants based on reverse engineering their ratios… but that’s another blog!

  2. Jessica on Reply

    Great article! I have worked on the agency and corporate sides of recruiting and I can personally attest to the annoyance of being a name on a call list for agency recruiters that need to hit their KPIs. It got so bad at two different companies that I had to stop answering my phone bc so many of the calls were from staffing agencies. In addition, every call or message was the same…”Hi, I’m so and so and I would like to hear about your needs and tell you how we differentiate ourselves.” That approach almost never turned into a working relationship.

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