“We need to talk about Andy Recruiter – he’s missed his budget again! What can we do?”
Throughout my 23 years of being an HR professional working within the recruitment sector, there is one people-related topic that’s dominated management meetings by far. “The current performance of dot, dot, dot”.
If you’re already having this conversation about a particular recruiter then you’ll know you need to do something different….and quick. Here are my ‘Top 10 Tips for Handling Performance Management’;
1. Performance management is about providing positive support to your team and starts informally as soon as they start. Not when they begin missing targets. Do you think Sir Alex Ferguson’s players didn’t know what he expected from them before they went onto the pitch? No recruiter should ever be surprised that you are formally raising their performance as an issue if they start dropping below your expectations. You should be in regular contact with your team members in a manner that suits the situation best and within these catchups you need to have clearly agreed expectations set and followed up.
2. As we’re talking about your expectations, not only should they be made clear from the outset, but they should be mutually agreed. You can’t underestimate the greater engagement you will get in the recruiter achieving goals that they were involved in setting, as opposed to goals they were ‘told’ they needed to achieve.
3. Oh, and yes, this means setting bespoke goals suited to them rather than general KPIs that apply to everyone in the company/team regardless of where they are with their specific desk. “Andy Recruiter, you only seem to have 2 qualified roles on at present. How do you feel about focusing this week on sales calls and sending out Spec CVs, rather than candidate sourcing? Last week you made 5 sales calls and sent 1 Spec CV so do you agree that aiming for 10 of each this week will benefit you?”
4. Make sure you and your team of recruiters have a simple way of tracking how they are performing against these targets, which incidentally should be related to the action/process (e.g., CVs Sent, Interviews Booked, etc.…) rather than the outcome (i.e., Revenue). Ideally this should be with a good CRM but if you don’t have that simply provide regular updates. I can’t count the number of times I’ve interviewed recruiters who are leaving their company as they are fed up with being kept in the dark about their performance until the relevant reporting period has ended. Why? Surely you want them motivated to push on down the final straight?!
5. Use emotional intelligence. Don’t be one of those managers that delivers everything in the same way or worse still shouts at the recruiter to “do it my way or f@*k off!” If you want to get the best performance out of your team then prepare for it just like you would a client meeting – consider what you want to achieve and plan how you can get there in a style that is designed around the individual you’re talking to.
6. Yep, you heard the ‘plan’ word. Too often I have seen managers go into a meeting with a team member having spent zero time preparing. What do you expect if that’s what you’re doing? Your team and the performance of your team is the most important asset you have. Take time to prepare for your meetings with them as ‘winging it’ won’t cut it.
7. Make sure the timescales for the plan are fair reasonable. No, you cannot set a goal of “£15k gross margin this month or you fail”. Yes, you can set activity goals for that month but if you are tying it to revenue then you have to give them reasonable time to get the money on the board.
8. This sounds obvious but is often where things go wrong. Document the goals agreed, share them with the recruiter and make sure you deliver on your half of the bargain. That means regular catchups on the agreed dates and support/training where requested. If you let these drift then you will create problems but, more to the point, you are lessening the chance of your team member improving.
9. Despite all of this you may still have team members that do not achieve the reasonable levels of performance required. Make sure you have a clear company policy for formally handling poor performance. This means criteria for triggering the policy and then clear steps that will be taken with documented goals. Obviously, the desired outcome is improved performance, but you also have to be in a position to take fair disciplinary action if things don’t improve.
10. Be straight with people! I know this repeats point 1 but it’s that important. No one should be surprised what their levels of performance are and how you feel about them. Don’t just discuss it behind closed doors in management meetings – make sure they know at all times what you think, good or bad.
Anyway, I hope this helps some people out there who are either planning on how they can best manage the performance of their team or are struggling with a specific individual.
For those HR professionals out there supporting recruitment businesses, my best advice is to listen to your ops managers, be confident to challenge and make HR tailored and genuine to the business – funnily enough, just like the manager should do with their individual recruiter.
If you want more support on Performance Management processes, the Sunblink Team focus on providing HR and Marketing consultancy support to recruitment companies of all levels, so get in touch. We understand the nuances within the recruitment sector and we can use this to help you get your recruiters billing!