Dear Claudia,

Why do some managers insist on measuring everything in the recruiting process? I think that metrics can be demoralizing and can affect a person's way of doing things, sometimes making them less effective. If I know that I can get better results by following my gut instinct, I will do so. Perhaps I will make fewer calls than my cubicle-mate. Should I skew the results by following a prototype of the ideal search? Or should I do what is right?

Diana Luger


Dear Diana,

Your question in yesterday’s Forum was so delicious that I couldn’t resist putting it front and center today on RBC. What is "right" in this context? And if I can outperform your expectations by doing it my own intuitive way, isn’t that the better path to follow?

As Marisa Tomei said on the witness stand in My Cousin Vinny, “It’s a trick question, Your Honor.” There are many paths to every mountain top, some longer and some shorter. But it’s foolish to climb mountains without knowing the basics of survival, don’t you think? Same thing for recruiting: there’s an art and a science to it, and if you don’t know and practice both you’re at risk of losing your job to another recruiter who does.

Simply stated, that which is measured can be improved, and improvement drives business efficiency, productivity, and profit. Creativity and discipline are on opposing ends of a spectrum; my goal as your manager should be to instill a balance of the two.

Metrics and morale
First, let’s address your comment that metrics are demoralizing. Are you saying that if it feels bad, don’t do it? Well in that case, I'm completely justified for not going to the gym. Buck up, baby – if I’m your manager my only job is to deliver results for my employer, and I’m compensated for how well I do that. Achieving results depends on a lot of factors, such as my management style, the competence of my team, and my level of trust in your abilities. But I am definitely not here to make you feel good about what you do. You’re responsible for that.

Measure what counts
You’re right, by the way, to rail against measuring every movement of every person involved in recruiting. There is no magic formula that produces a hire every single time; so the trick is to measure what really counts. Easy to say, hard to do - but I'll tell you this: indiscriminate metrics are a sign of weak management and a transactional approach to recruiting. You know the kind – hands on, brain off.

On the flip side, well-designed metrics set a baseline for behavioral expectations in the team, and in the very best scenario they are designed to reward best practices. What counts in your environment? Whatever generates revenue or better manages resources. If, on average, 100 dials a day produces enough leads to fill a candidate and job pipeline, that’s what I’ll hold you accountable for. But I’m foolish if I don’t also concern myself with the quality and content of those calls, because dialing the phone has no earthly value unless it takes us one step closer to generating revenue. Quantity and quality. Art and science. The yin and yang, or balance, of great recruiting.

Know yourself
The ancient Greeks said it well, don’t you think? But even more valuable than knowing yourself in this context is your willingness to continue to overcome every obstacle in the perfection of your craft. If your natural instincts serve you well as a recruiter, then your opportunity for growth will be found in making peace with a disciplined accountability for the right numbers. The reverse is also true.

Happy recruiting, my friend!

**
In my day job, I’m the head of Products for Improved Experience, where we help employers use feedback to measure and manage engagement for competitive advantage in hiring and retention. Learn more about us here.

Do you have a question you'd like answered in this weekly forum? Drop me a line!

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Claudia - You are convincing in your arguments for metrics.

I'm sure there must be some way to combine metrics, respect for the employee and the ability to use creativity and intuition. I just don't what it is.

I see several problems with metrics.

First, there is often favoritism in the workplace. If a Manager consistently gives one employee the easier searches, the results of the metrics will appear skewed.

Also, an employee might know from past experience that reaching Assistant Plant Managers during working hours by phone is next to impossible. Many plants will not let lower level employees take calls during the work day and many people at that level rarely check voice mails. So, in order to contact these people, one might have to approach it differently. And, that approach might not involve making a lot of telephone calls. Should the employee then be penalized?

Diana Luger
President
CIS
Diana Luger said:
I see several problems with metrics...

Diana, I understand your frustration - and strongly agree that numbers without context can tell a story that is not at all connected to the truth. But I don't believe that metrics are the problem in the scenarios you mention; management is. Good managers build levers into their analysis and reporting to tell the whole story - this means accounting for volume and difficulty of individual req load, as well as the experience levels of recruiters managing that load. Good managers also take into account the need for recruiters to be available when candidates are.

The foundation of great recruiter performance is found in clear expectations, open communication, and an environment that is conducive to getting the job done. Metrics merely set the baseline for delivery of results.
Claudia, great response to Diana.

One complaint: I do so like it when you keep your clients anonymous. It makes direct, curt and rude replies so much easier to post.
Amitai Givertz said:
One complaint: I do so like it when you keep your clients anonymous. It makes direct, curt and rude replies so much easier to post.

So noted, Ami. Diana, I am sending you a flack jacket and protective eye wear immediately.
I agree with Ami in one regard - replying to a "real person" makes me a little less direct.....but some of these topics beg for specifics.

Diana I see you are the President of your firm. Can you maybe clarify just a bit where these metrics are coming from? Have you hired someone to manage your team? Or are you the manager and need some insight on how to help your team embrace this form of management?
Gimme a break! I can't see a blessed thing with these goggles on.

Claudia Faust said:
Amitai Givertz said:
One complaint: I do so like it when you keep your clients anonymous. It makes direct, curt and rude replies so much easier to post.

So noted, Ami. Diana, I am sending you a flack jacket and protective eye wear immediately.
You're wearing the night-vision goggles, Ami. Put the other ones on.

Amitai Givertz said:
Gimme a break! I can't see a blessed thing with these goggles on.
When I started out, we had to track our numbers, and once a month we'd meet briefly with our manager, to check in and see how things were going, how our numbers were trending, what we'd billed and what we were projecting to bill for next month.

We measured real numbers, interviews, sendouts, and placements. That's it. We didn't measure calls.

The numbers were incredibly helpful to establish what your ratios were. Such as four sendouts to placement.

As a newer recruiter, I was also pushing to make sure my numbers were as high if not higher than my colleagues.

I recall one month feeling devastated when I met with my manager and my production numbers were there, but I had nothing on the board that month for placements. He looked over my numbers and what was still in play and told me the following wise words,

'Relax. The numbers don't lie. You'll make it up next month, as long as your numbers are there."

They were, and I did. That next month was my best ever.

The key to metrics, is making them work for you.

~Pam
Claudia: Oh, you mean the rose-colored ones...what was I thinking?

Pam: Great anecdote and so true, and up to the point that statistical probabilities translate into predictable outcomes for most rookies "doing the behavior," I concur. But what do you measure when the goal is to improve quality over quantity, post-rookiedom? I mean beyond the improved ratios, how do you measure technical ability, supportive outlook, on-the-job intelligence and so on?

Diana: I'm reminded of Einstein who purportedly said: "Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts."

Claudia Faust said:
You're wearing the night-vision goggles, Ami. Put the other ones on.
Amitai Givertz said:
Gimme a break! I can't see a blessed thing with these goggles on.
There is something scary about numbers for most of us: stark black ink on a white page, the silent fear that our best may not be good enough. Your manager was wise indeed on two fronts, Pam; first, that numbers do tell a story; and second, that the story continues over time. A great manager knows this, and helps his or her team live through the valleys. A great manager, however, also has to know when to cut losses for the employer. It is a tough balance to keep.

pam claughton said:
He looked over my numbers and what was still in play and told me the following wise words,

'Relax. The numbers don't lie. You'll make it up next month, as long as your numbers are there."

They were, and I did. That next month was my best ever.

The key to metrics, is making them work for you.

~Pam
Not keeping track of your numbers is very nearly like driving in a car that has no gas guage. It really is. I just can not see how anyone in this field would not want to know where they are. Like being "somewhere" on a map but not quite sure where.....

For some - the "guessing" is more comfortable. It's easier to "hope" for a placement than actually take a look at your desk and know whether you should "expect" one. I can not picture being a top biller without some type of metrics.

For me - it's as easy as taking a quick peep at my activity sheet. Does my clipboard tell me I'm headed toward a placement? Or does it tell me that there is not a shot in h.e.doubletoothpicks of that happening? It sure does. Kind of like those old magic 8 balls........but with a real answer.

Just my 2 cents. (again)

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