This is a tricky one. The old school recruiters amongst us will remember the days where targets were hit purely as a result of set activity levels driven by an over-zealous manager and if those activity levels were achieved then the assumption was the rest would fall into place. Being a very sales driven industry the rewards/incentives were financial gain and that ought to be enough. Didn’t like the office very much? Tough – get on the phone.
Recruitment has evolved over the last few years with a determined shift away from a high volume activity “it’ll stick” attitude, to a professional, valuable industry with great career progression. As a result the management styles of recruitment business owners has had to change accordingly.
The easiest way to manage a sales business is by the classic key performance indicator e.g. laying down a set of easily measured activity-based targets based loosely on the law of averages and then measuring their delivery against those KPIs. Its simple to enact, easy to administer and the management of such is black and white. The more activity you do: calls, visits etc, the more results you will get.
KPI run recruitment businesses still exist, and the model can still work, but you tend to find they churn through (younger) staff that burn out or become immune to the KPI whip. Innovation and creativity can be stifled, likewise the foundations of the business are more short term than long term, with client relationships likely to suffer.
Why would they suffer? Lets face it, KPIs can be fabricated and consultants praised for busy-ness rather than effectiveness. Client relationships rely on providing a good service along with results and if activity KPIs create pointless meetings or interviews, clients become disillusioned.
So activity isn’t important? Yes – it is, but not in isolation. Great recruitment business owners ensure that whilst activity levels need to be relevant, their consultants understand there is a correlation between activity, conversion ratios and therefore profit. Treat each individual “desk” as though it were a business in its own right. That allows consultants to focus on efficiencies i.e. what works for them and their clients therefore delivering on that customer service.
What does great customer service lead to? Hopefully greater levels of client exclusivity, and a brand identity associated with that agency that then transfers to across to other areas of the client’s business. That agency becomes one that delivers on its promise of service, not one that shouts loudly but achieves little.
So how do we define a successful recruiter? One that is engaged with the business and understands the need for constant monitoring of their conversion rates to see what activity or metric works best depending on economic conditions, competitor decisions etc. That commercial savvy consultant will be significantly more effective and profitable in the long term
The modern day manager needs to ensure that consultants are trained and develop the skills required to review their own activity to make the relevant decisions to drive improvement.
The consultant runs their business and the manager focuses on their engagement to ensure they are driven to produce more outcomes.