Are Your Performance Measures Compromising Innovation and Quality?

In The Beginning


When I commenced my career in recruitment it was the year 2000, I was working for a well-known national recruitment agency brand and like many agencies, the focus was on engaging and retaining candidates and clients.  Your success at retaining clients was largely measured on the quality of your last placement.  Make a mistake and the account was lost.  The candidates you placed, often became your clients.  Even more reason to do a good job.
When you have “quality” measures, it drives a certain type of behaviour.  I remember I would work long and hard screening and spending time on the phone with candidates just to find that “gem” of a candidate that I knew my client could not say no to.  I recall the thrill and excitement of finding that perfect candidate.  It also meant a bundle of commission and pats on the back from my colleagues.  Quality = Success.

The In-House Difference

Fast forward, three years later and I’m working as an internal recruiter.  I knew something had changed about what motivated me at work but I really didn’t have time to think too hard about it.  I was running from pillar to post, trying to work off poor job briefs because the hiring managers didn’t really have time to spend with me. It seemed that no amount of phone calls and meeting requests helped in getting a decent job brief.   In comes the “time” measures, and I find myself being a slave to the recruitment system, updating candidate/job status’, entering data in countless fields, printing off CV’s because hiring managers didn’t want to use the system themselves.  As long as the statistics on the recruitment activity report showed the right status against my jobs, indicating that I was working hard on my open vacancies, things were good.
Time-vs-Money-resized-600Needless to say, it was quite a change and I started to wonder what it was about being in recruitment  I actually loved.
If you are in recruitment management, take a long hard look at your team and ask yourself if your performance measures are compromising you.  An equal balance of quality, time and cost measures are often what you are aiming for, however, during tough economic conditions it’s time and cost measures which prevail, at the expense of quality measures. The problem with this is,  it promotes the wrong behaviours.


The Wrong Measures?



If “time” is a dominant measure, then you are likely to find recruiters may only screen candidates up until they have enough on the shortlist, even though; there may be twenty other candidates to screen, why bother, you get no pats on the back for finding the “gem” candidate, just one that’s good enough.


If “cost” is your dominant measure, you are likely to find this kills innovative thinking.  If your team believe that none of their bright ideas will be considered because they cost money, you will end up with a room full of drones.  That’s right, everyone will work the process without thinking about whether it’s efficient or not.  The dominant “cost” measures create inefficient work practices which; funnily enough, ends up costing money.

Here are a few things you can do to develop the right performance measures:


1. Take time to consider how you are measuring your team’s performance.

Try mapping this out in a spreadsheet – what is the measure, type of measure (cost, time, quality), how is it measured, desired behaviour, how is the behaviour recognised/rewarded.  For example:



2. Define the most important measures.

There is no point measuring things to the enth degree as they are not all drivers of behaviour.  Select your top ten measures and determine how you want your team to behave to perform well against these measures. The right behaviours deliver high performance.


3. Give consideration to the data used to measure performance.

In most cases, it is likely to come from your recruitment system, however; hiring manager surveys and new hire surveys can be very useful sources of information.  It does not have to be a survey that is too long and arduous to fill out.  Ask the questions that matter. Keep it simple


4. Determine how you will reward high performing team members.

Do you link the metrics to the annual performance review which may have direct impact on their salary increases or do you openly recognise the achievement in team/management meetings? Does the recognition create opportunity to be considered for more senior roles and challenging assignments?  Remember, success is contagious.  If you show your team what success looks like, they will aspire to it.


You might think this is management 101, and you are not wrong.  Having said that, it’s amazing how often it gets overlooked.

In tough times, it’s important to demonstrate value. If you don’t have a metric driven team, you are at risk of looking dumbfounded when the senior managers in your business start sharpening their pencils and are looking for areas to cut costs.  You will fare better in those discussions if you have your metrics in hand.

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