My motivation for discussing KPIs began after concluding interview questions with potential candidates, many of whom asked me about KPIs. When I asked, "do you have any questions for me?" the candidates often replied with “I do not want to work in a business that has KPIs, do you have any business development KPIs?”

KPIs - The Dirty Word

I don’t often put pen to paper, figuratively speaking, and resist putting myself out there as I don't wish to poke the proverbial Hornet’s Nest. That being said, after interviewing many experienced recruiters who recently joined our team at Square One, I feel duty-bound to offer my opinion on the supposedly dirty term known as KPI.

Are KPIs Relevant?

My motivation for discussing KPIs began after concluding interview questions with potential candidates, many of whom asked me about KPIs. When I asked, "do you have any questions for me?" the candidates often replied with “I do not want to work in a business that has KPIs, do you have any business development KPIs?”

Internally I would think, ‘how would you measure success, how will you know your tasks, and do you perform well enough that your manager isn't overly concerned with tracking your KPIs?' I would gladly allow someone who is over-achieving on their monthly GP targets to be left to their own devices. We constantly look for self-starters who are motivated to succeed, and if experienced, understand what they need to do to be successful and therefore do not require much management support.

Why Use KPIs?

KPIs or not, I respond consistently: "KPIs are a very good way to drive the right inputs to get the desired outcomes."

Not to come across as a dinosaur, but during my 20 years in the industry, I have seen a multitude of changes and innovations. However, tracking outcomes of targets has never shifted in its importance. With that being said KPIs need to be relevant and targeted in the right way. Additionally, they should be changeable, in line with where a consultant is in their career and performance, adapted to their strength, weaknesses and success and even their market. KPIs need to be assessed constantly and adapted accordingly with market trends, i.e. a candidate-led market versus a client-led market. Ultimately, they are a good tool for tracking business performance improvements.

 

Tracking KPIs also creates data that helps managers identify whether a development plan needs to be implemented. These business metrics allow the manager to produce a clear path of success for an individual and/or the wider business. Then with properly scheduled assessments, they can forecast the success of the individual.

For example, if a consultant sends out 40 CVs in a month and fails to get any interviews from those CVs, we as a business know that it is not consistent with the norm of the market and something is going wrong. We can look at the quality of the CVs, and if they are off the mark we can train and coach through that. If the CVs look ideal could it be around the qualification of the role?

 

Success With KPIs In Recruitment 

We know that a recruitment consultant needs to undertake a certain amount of each activity to create the desired outcome. Simply put: sending out great CVs generally means interviews, interviews mean placements and placements mean success. As managers what we know is that we have a GP target, our average invoice value is £xxx, therefore we need to make xxx number of placements, the activity behind the outcome can then be mapped according to the ratios across the business.

 

This is relevant at consultant level too. Why wouldn’t a driven consultant or business want to be in a position where they know what they need to deliver to succeed. I would like to say here, I am not suggesting hit the number for the sake of hitting the number; quality supersedes quantity every time, but if a consultant isn’t getting to the desired outcome then something has to give.

 

 

The reality of the modern world is that vast amounts of data is being collated and analysed time and time again. This I believe indicates that statistics and performance will be constantly monitored, developed, and reported upon. After all, efficiencies develop to ensure effective businesses. Look no further than the world of sport; no longer are footballers or rugby players measured simply by their goal differentials.

 

Their personal performances are analysed and reported upon based on what would be known generically as Key Performance Indicators. Assists, tackle, count, successful passes are some of the KPIs that are measured and developed. I ask you – are there any jobs out there that do not have some measure of operational KPIs that are tracked?

 

How Recruiters Use KPIs

I believe recruiters perceive KPI metrics in one of three ways; They love them, hate them, or are indifferent to them. When I say "love" I mean they accept them and are successful due to understanding the benefits. Those indifferent to KPIs simply need to see how they can impact their outcomes. The last camp, however, understands them, realize their necessity, but avoid them. I believe KPIs are necessary for any business, however, it’s the effective use of them that counts. It should never be a number where your consultants just want to hit to keep their manager off their back.

 

One thing that is consistent, and a constant around the top performers in our industry, is that they work very hard and undertake the key activities time and time again. This ensures their success to the point where they don’t even think about KPIs. KPIs become a by-product of success.

Which camp are you in? How important are they to your business or bottom line? I look forward to hearing your thoughts, positive or negative.