[Podcast] Workshop | Get Off the KPI Hamster Wheel: Why Your Metrics are Keeping Your Recruiting and Staffing Business From Growing

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Show notes

On today’s episode, we explore the love-hate relationship that leaders in the talent industry have with KPIs. In this episode, you’ll learn:
  • How to evaluate if your ATS and CRM workflows are giving you the metrics you need to grow versus the metrics you think you want
  • What a shadow process is and how to evaluate if you have any
  • How tracking metrics through your workflows and measuring the KPIs that matter can help you obtain the true qualitative information you need to evaluate success
  • Why just measuring something because it’s easy isn’t showing you the whole picture of your business
  • How to break down and develop processes, implement good change management, hold teams accountable to ratios and new metrics that matter to increase cash-in and scale your business


Kortney Harmon, host:

I have worked with many businesses that still run those spreadsheets. You may be one of them. They still work outside the system and it’ll never get you off the hamster wheel of metrics. The hard truth, it’s never going to change for a lot of firms with your current stack, your tech stack, because processes are siloed. Maybe they’re not talking to each other or they’re just straight up missing.

Hi, I’m Kortney Harmon, staffing and recruiting industry principal at Crelate. Over the past decade, I’ve trained thousands of frontline recruiters and I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners and executives to help their firms and agencies grow. This is The Full Desk Experience where we will be talking about growth blockers across your people, processes and technologies.

On today’s episode, we’re going to delve into the love hate relationship that leaders in the talent industry have with KPIs. As an operations leader, owner, or even an individual contributor, KPIs are something that you simply cannot escape. However, in today’s show, we’re going to discuss how many firms fall victim to identifying something easy to measure, seemingly correlated with success and measuring it to the hilt. Unfortunately, this can lead to a disconnect between metrics and actual success of a business. We’ve all been here, we’ve all been seduced by a metric that we have access to, driving it without consulting our teams and making everything about that metric. But in doing so, we often lose sight of the bigger picture and the business doesn’t grow as it should. So let’s dive into this topic and explore how you can avoid this pitfall and become a more effective leader in your organization.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, as you may already know where I’m going. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for our show, the key to avoiding the pitfall of KPIs and unlocking the full potential of your business truly lies in breaking down and developing foundational processes, involving your teams in executing and having the best possible reporting to understand the ratios in which your teams work. Ensure that you are not stuck with the limitations of your system as the limitations of your insights into your business. Frankly, this is just a starting point for everything else we have and we’ll discuss in the talent industry today, including additional technologies, Ais, automation and so much more. As operations leaders, your role is to help your teams grow in the right ways. And as individual contributors, we must understand how to interpret that data, how to work smarter, not harder.

Now today, get your fingers and your mice ready. I have a few polls, so I want to get started and I want to get to know what you do for metrics in your organization right now. There is no wrong answer. I have seen it all and it’s truly what works for you. All right, first question, is how do you track your KPIs and your metrics today? Ooh, bam. Look at that. I got some quick people on the go today. Is it your ATS in your CRM? Is it an Excel file outside of your system? Is it a tick or a chipboard in your office? Or maybe a combination of all of the above. And it’s okay, again, remember, no wrong answers. A lot of you are saying you’re ATS and CRM. You know how to make a girl’s heart happy. I love it.

There are some of you that still use Excel files. There are some of you that still use chip or tick boards in your offices, and a lot of you use a combination of all of the above, and that’s okay because honestly, I’ve been in offices where they use that chip or tick board so they can see things live whenever you’re in the office. It really creates that comradery between people. So KPIs, KPIs are such a tarnished word in our industry. Through my years of coaching and training, when you said the word KPIs, owners and recruiters alike cringe. You can see physically their muscles tense up in their bodies. Even conversations I have today through the podcast and other interviews, I hear things like, eh, “I don’t like KPIs.” Or “I have a senior team, I don’t need them.” Or, “That’s just not how I like to manage my teams.”

I’ve seen this from the start, from the ground up when working with new franchise owners over the years, they really came from that bigger corporate America. And now wanting to open up their own firm, they had this jaded opinion of being held accountable to micromanaging numbers. So they almost steered completely to the other end of the spectrum not tracking anymore, or they were tracking such a bare minimum that they’re not understanding the holistic view of their business and maybe insights to know how to do better. Now, there’s the other side of the fence that I did work with offices that their leadership team loved metrics and KPIs. Leadership, not their teams. But they weren’t using them in the best way to scale their offices. They were completely opposite of the first group where maybe they used every metric as a KPI. They had data from 20 years ago that they felt that was instrumental in their business and they could not part ways with. Even though they weren’t doing anything with that data.

And that’s what it really comes down to. What are you doing with the data? Is it affecting your decision making strategies to steer your business? If not, it should be. And you can only have so many deciding factors to help you change course. Now remember, hope is not a strategy. Goals are a dream without a plan to get there. Think about it. Would you hire a contractor to build you a house without a blueprint? Tools or able to measure anything. Even if that contractor had 20 years of experience, you would want to see measurements, you’d want to see data. You’d want to see proof that they could actually do their job without navigating the project blindly. Just as blueprints provide details and a plan for building a structure. KPIs also provide a detailed plan for running a successful staffing and recruiting business.

Without having a clear set of KPIs recruiters may find themselves navigating the hiring process blindly. Making decisions based on incomplete data, inaccurate information. By monitoring key metrics like time to hire, cost per hire, candidate quality recruiters can make data-driven decisions that keep the hiring process on track. Ensuring high quality a candidate pool and really maximizing your ROI Just as a building project can’t succeed without a solid set of blueprints, a recruiting business can’t succeed without a solid set of KPIs. So we talk data. So let’s dive in. When you think about KPIs and metrics, a lot of times these terms are used interchangeably, and I’ve been guilty of it in the past. Because we feel that they’re so instrumental, we want to bucket everything together, but they’re actually different. Metrics are the tools to measure something. They’re actually different data points and analytics throughout your platform when accumulated, they make up a KPI.

KPIs are those key performance indicators. KPI is the tool to keep track of how a key area of your business is performing. A KPI always contains a metric to measure performance of that key area. Think of them as quantifiable values used to track process against an individual, a team or a company set of goals. KPIs provide direction towards achieving desired results. They’re what moves or impacts your business and can help your business make better informed decisions. So that leads us to poll number two. Katie, help me out here. My question to the audience is, with knowing the difference of KPIs and metrics, how many KPIs do you track within your organization? Maybe you don’t differentiate between metrics and KPIs. That’s okay. Maybe you measure five to 10, maybe you measure three to five. Maybe you only measure one to three or you know what? Maybe you need to rethink this wholeheartedly.

Okay, and I’ve seen the gamut of things working with offices. We have a tie between five to 10 and three to five. We have some that are doing one to three. Now, when you think of those key performance indicators that you are measuring your team against, you don’t want to measure everything including the kitchen sink because that’s what metrics are for. You really want to keep your KPIs around three to five on average per roll, and five may even be a little high, but I have seen it. Keep in mind those three to five vary each position. For sourcers, three for recruiters, three for account managers, three for business developers. Now the metrics are everything your system keeps track of. So for those of you who are thinking through that, it’s like, “Well, yeah, we track this and we track this.” The KPIs are what you’re maybe having your morning meetings about or your one-on-one conversations about.

Metrics are everything that happens on the backend. The metrics give you the full story. If you take anything from this, yes, I am a fan of metrics when used correctly. So be sure you have your ATS or CRM set up in a way that it does track everything, but it tracks everything without any extra legwork. It truly is just a part of your process and your workflows. The way you want your teams to work, no add extra steps, no added extras. The talent industry is of fairly predictive industry that you can truly reverse engineer to understand your goals, whether it’s on a quarterly, a monthly, a weekly, a daily basis that you need in order to hit to be successful. If you’ve listened to some of our previous episodes in the past when I talked with Jen Meyer from Govig, she talked a bit about this and how to understand where their teams want to be with cash in and where they want their total comp to be.

And after that conversation, it gives her the manager, the leader of operations, a guideline and permissions to hold her teams accountable for the KPIs that they need to hit weekly, monthly, et cetera. So shameless plug, do check out that episode if you haven’t already. Now it’s your job as a leader to help your teams track the important data without extra work. Because I will tell you, if it’s an extra step, if it’s outside your system or outside of your workflow and process, your teams are not going to do it. Or they’ll not do it consistently enough for you to even have the whole picture of your business. Recruiters don’t like data entry. I’m not quite sure about you, but they like nothing administration heavy. They are people, people. So ensure that you’re eliminating the pain and the hustle of reporting for your organization by using a software that does the necessary tracking just by completing your workflow as it was built into your system.

No extra steps, no extra tracking, so you get clean data, real-time data that helps you boost your teams, not slow them down and doing what they’re good at. Now all of us, we see data creates reports, for your talent organization. Those reports are going to help you see trends and patterns, that’s the goal. But you’re going to be seeing two types of information from those reports that you pull from your system. You’re going to see predictive information to tell you where your business is going, what’s on the horizon, what is your forecasted cash in this month going to be? If you were able to hit this quarter’s projections, what job board or clients should you be spending your time with versus others? This information is truly instrumental. Teach your teams what to look for in order to get better. That’s oftentimes not done. Now, when the other half of the coin is you’re going to see diagnostic information. That’s the information that’s going to tell you what happened in the past where something might have gone wrong.

But the problem with diagnostic KPIs is that you’re truly not getting to the root cause of the issue. I’ve seen this dozens and dozens of times and dozens of offices. This is where metrics and KPIs get the bad rap. It’s right here. I know you see it too. Take an honest look at the atmosphere that KPIs are creating. People are jaded to these things that have been used for micromanagement and really created a negative culture because they weren’t used correctly to help individuals, teams and companies succeed. So before I tell you what I’ve seen, I want you to take a look at your organization. I only think I have two more polls left for you, so get your fingers ready. Katie, ready for poll number three. Do you know how your teams feel about KPIs and metrics? Maybe, they don’t like KPIs and neither you.

Maybe they know, maybe your teams know that it’s a necessary evil. Maybe they understand them and they know how to use them to succeed, and that is oftentimes not what I have seen in organizations, so if that is you, congratulations. That is probably a coaching thing that you have done that you’ve worked with your teams. I love those. There’s a few honest people that say they don’t like KPIs and neither do I. Pretty good split, but majority of people here are saying they know that they’re a necessary evil. And I say that with a grain of salt because we feel like they are evil sometimes. 25% of people say they don’t like KPIs neither do I. And around 19% out of this group say that they understand them and know how to use and how to succeed. Now, I’m going to tell you, your teams don’t make the same connection as you do as an operations leader or owner.

Over the years of instructing hundreds of offices, I’ve had to a mix of attendees, senior to junior associates. The overwhelming majority feel the same way. They thought that KPIs are just there as big brother to keep tabs on them. It’s so defeating for someone in their shoes if they’re not taught. Their thought process is, “Well, I just have to make my a hundred calls today. Well, I just have to make my 10 submissions this week. I just have to obtain five new job orders this week.” I just have to fill in the blank with whatever lingering over the head goal they have to hit so they can honestly check off that tally or box. So they’re not going to be called out in your next morning meeting. They’re not making the connection that it’s possible to work smarter, not harder for those goals. But can you blame them really? If that translation isn’t spelled out for them or it’s not in your working process that’s visible, coachable, and discussed during growth building conversations for development, most of the leaders I’ve worked with don’t think they need to share those KPIs.

Well, we’re working towards the goal. And maybe personally they know how to find those reports as a leader, but not easily doing so without a day’s worth of work, couldn’t report polling, let alone to teach someone else how to find them, analyze them, know what they’re doing wrong, where to make changes, it’s just too much work. So it doesn’t get done, because everyone in our businesses are moving a thousand miles per hour and it’s true. It is all about speed. Katie, last poll, everybody else, last poll, I promise. Who has access to metrics in your business? So whenever you say that, is it everyone in your business? Is it just leadership? Is it only management and administration or you don’t track like you need to? That’s an honest conversation. Maybe it’s something that this is going to trigger you to go back to reassess those. I’ll give you another minute here.

So far, 69% of our audience says that everyone has access to those metrics. 13% say just leadership, 13% say only management, administration, and 6% say we don’t track like we need to. Nope, just leadership jumped up to 17%. That’s an interesting concept. A few weeks ago, I did a LinkedIn poll of my own, maybe you participated in it. I found out that 62% of organizations grant access to their metrics in their talent business to everyone. While the remaining 38% do not. This lack of access to metrics in 38% of the organizations can create various challenges. So if this is you, just hear me out. It can create an inability to make informed decisions about talent management strategies. It can create a lack of transparency and accountability in the various processes that you have. Difficulty in tracking the effectiveness of your office’s initiatives, maybe an incomplete understanding of the talent pool that you have and the needs that they have, or the limited ability to identify and address areas of improvement for your workflows and processes because that’s what this is truly about.

Or maybe it’s just lack of awareness to where your individual stands in relation to goals and objectives that they need to meet. Overall not having access to metrics can hinder the ability of an organization to effectively manage their teams and achieve their desired growth as an organization. So let’s understand the why. Do you like to be a five year old again? Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Maybe it’s just me because I have a seven and a nine year old at home. But me personally, I like to dig deeper. I’m a nerd and I love to truly get to the root cause of all problems versus feeling the surface level impact.

So why do you or your leaders make your teams feel like they’re on this endless hamster wheel of data and KPIs? Did you even realize that you could change the outcome of how your teams are feeling? Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s probably not intentional, but leaders are setting this precedence whether you mean to or not. They’re spinning the hamster wheel of metrics for your teams because you don’t know how to break the cycle. Now, from my perspective, in what I’ve seen over the years, your teams stay on this hamster wheel for one of two reasons. Number one, your ATS or core platform really isn’t giving you the holistic view of the business to know what’s actually working or what’s broken. Heck, I still see people working out of those Excel files saying, “Well, if we just have 15 interviews this week, it’ll be fine.” And they’ll track it from the tick board on their desk or with a piece slip, paper and pencil.

That’s not giving you the whole picture, and frankly, it probably takes you a day to create those reports that are subpar at best, don’t hate me. Number two, root cause is that you just haven’t done the critical thinking to get away from the what easy transactional metrics can you pull from your system today? Versus what you should be measuring to truly understand and improve the effectiveness of your teams. So you scale, metrics that actually get you off the hamster wheel of just make more calls and that’ll solve it. People underestimate the power of what numbers tell them. They tell a story, believe it or not. The numbers tell you the quantity of you or your team’s activities, but more importantly, you get into the real story. When you understand your ratios, they tell you the quality, so you get away from that, just do more mentality.

Now to be clear, more won’t necessarily hurt you, and we know that picking up the phone leads to good things. But it certainly isn’t working as hard for you in developing a world-class team in business as, “Hey, I noticed that you’re making a lot of X types of calls and having a lot of meetings. Now, honestly, I think you could be making more, but we’ll talk about that at a different time. But I’m noticing those calls and meetings aren’t translating to the outcome that we actually carry about at the rate or ratio that you’d expect. Let’s talk about your approach there, your script, your conversation and see if we can’t get better outcomes from the same number of attempts so that you’re not just beating your head against the wall.” And that’s where I’ve focused all of my career. I’ve shopped with firms, I’ve gone in and broken down these pieces and said, “Hey, this metric, the one that you’re tracking, it might be correlated with success, but you’re losing sight of the stuff that actually makes recruiters successful.”

You’re not looking at your ratios to see where the activity is not working as hard for you as it could where people are working harder, not smarter. It’s very common in our business. And going into these businesses, I’ve helped train on foundational processes, focus on the numbers that matter and the crew that we worked with increased their results, increase their results by 146%. We really dove into how to dive into scripts of what someone’s saying so they make less calls, but a better return, lower number of presentations to get that one-to-one ratio of submissions to interview ratio. Less interviews to make more placements. It’s truly about working smarter and we’re going to talk a more about this later, so stay tuned. It’s one of my favorite stories. You may have heard it before. But let me ask you, don’t you want your teams to achieve their goals with less effort?

Have you even thought about it? You can literally use the same number of hours each week, same resources, same technologies, but you can double your billings. You truly don’t have to work twice as hard. You just have to tweak how you’re working and your teams need the guidance on how to redirect or get better with each and every day. I’m going to go against the grain for a minute and say something you might not agree with. Have you ever heard the term what gets measured gets managed? I think the original phrase was actually if you can measure it, you can manage it. Which paints a slightly different picture than the phrase that we use today. Because if you’re telling me as an operations leader, all I have to do is measure something and it’ll magically happen, wrong, that’s not it. Business intelligence isn’t just throwing numbers on a page.

I mean, come on. Have you ever received an overwhelming spreadsheet that appears to be some report? It probably could be spoken at a different language and you wouldn’t even know the difference. Endless columns, rows of data, boxes filled with percentages, bold numbers, and honestly, you have no clue where to start, unless you’re familiar with the information. It’s likely when you get this report, you’re going to throw it away in some crazy folder in your inbox. You’re never going to see it again. So unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to impress anyone with your knowledge of the data later on either. And let’s face it, no one is going to get better from this either. It’s just going to be a report done for report’s sake. I have worked with many businesses that still run those spreadsheets. You may be one of them, they still work outside the system and it’ll never get you off the hamster wheel of metrics.

The hard truth, it’s never going to change for a lot of firms with your current stack, your tech stack. Because processes are siloed. Maybe they’re not talking to each other or they’re just straight up missing. Even with a name brand ATS, most of you are having your team’s run what I like to call a shadow process outside of your system. You haven’t truly defined what your process is. So to make sure your workflow or your methodology matches what’s in your technology. So when I think of shadow process, it’s the idea that you think your teams are running your playbook, they are following your lead. But you’ve added outside systems that bolt on or into your ATS, but they don’t talk to each other. They don’t give you the actual metrics that your teams are completing on the daily. So you only have half the picture, half of the data, and you have half of the decision making abilities to run your business the way that you want to because your metrics don’t come together for a clear, integrated, actionable, let alone execution.

To top it off, that’s not including the piece of tech that are done via vendor integration, which they all want to keep their wallet share, so they give you their reports on how it’s going in their corner of the world. But that’s not close to the whole picture being measured and presented holistically within your core platform, and we see it all the time. With that being said, it’s super common to want to throw it all away or just stop looking at the reports when you do more of the transactional thing that you can easily report, but the businesses don’t actually grow when you do more of it. When you want a firm to grow from five to 50 or from 50 to 200, you have to have a process. You have to know what’s working in order to improve it at scale, and it starts with critical thinking about the process now. Where you want it to be to reflect and scale, what makes your firm special, what makes you worth working for or working with.

And then deeply listening to your teams before you go prescribing more transactional KPIs or AI or even automation to do more of something that frankly could be working a lot harder for you in the first place. So start with a piece of your process. Heck, let’s start with sourcing. Make sure all of your tech is included in your process that you train your teams on. Make sure that there are no shadow process happening outside of your system so your teams truly get recognized for the work that they do. Part two of this equation is only pick a few metrics, aka KPIs that you want to hold them accountable to. The metrics are there to give you the deeper story.

Now, I want to tell you a story that’s pretty common when it comes to KPIs. We’re going to use sourcers since I was just talking about that. And working with sourcers at one of my past organizations, they had three KPIs that they were accountable for, but in reality it could have been one, they were only held to the number of calls, the number of emails and the number of submissions that they were sending. Did they need to be held to all three? You might argue yes, but I love playing a good devil’s advocate. I truly only think the number of submissions was the KPI, the others or the metric. So the number of submissions was the KPI where they needed their feet to be held to the fire, the number of calls and the number of submissions, again, only metrics. It’s something to guide them like a north star of where they’re going, because I’ve worked with people who never hit their number of calls or number of emails in a week, but surpassed the submission of good qualified candidates each and every week.

They were continually called out for not hitting their calls, but you know what they were really good at? They were good at preparation, studying the people that they need to call. So they got further along in the funnel to have a higher success rate with lower effort. Now, there were other team members who hit their number of calls and number of emails each week, but they never reached their number of qualified submissions. Sounds to me that there were people that could have used a little better coaching to make those calls more effective somehow to work on their emails to land a little bit differently, and that’s where my team came in. So who would you rather have? Me personally, I would rather have the person hitting their submissions because they weren’t just doing activities for activities sake. There were so many examples and there are so many examples of people being called out for underachieving on the hamster wheel of metrics, yet somehow they’re outperforming because they’re doing the things that matter, which should have been the things that you were managing in the first place.

Our business comes down to being prepared, working effectively, and doing the right things that’ll improve speed and quality in our industry.

And there are things that you should track on both sides of your business, recruiting and sales. But what’s most important again, is speed and quality. In our industry, it’s about finding the more qualified candidates at a faster rate than your competition unless you’re retained or engaged, which quality metrics are still critical for. Nonetheless, when it comes to recruiting strategies, we have to track a few main things. So in recruiting, you probably track the number of conversations with a candidate, the number of candidates, whatever you call it, submitted, shortlisted or presented your submissions to interview ratio, which should be as close to one-to-one as possible. Now, what you truly should know is how many candidates do you personally or does your team have to talk to get a presentation? How many submissions do you need to get a first time interview? How many interviews to get a placement?

That’s three KPIs for those that are keeping track at home. Now, I’ve seen offices that want to die on the hill of total number of interviews. Have you seen that? Know the KPIs that you should be tracking. Yes, you need to understand how many interviews that are happening per client, but with the ratio reporting, you should really focus on the first number of interviews. The client that’s having six interviews before a placement is a whole nother conversation, but you might be asking, how do I get my teams to improve their recruiting speed and quality? What do I need to coach them on to get better at these recruiting ratios, you need to focus on planning and preparedness of your sourcing, evaluation of job boards that you’re using. Understanding active versus passive talent. Using a resume for more than just a timeline of a candidate, use them as sourcing where you can get more candidates like them.

Fine tune your call blocks and power hours. Understand what talent engagement strategies work for your industry. Work on candidate resistance, how to overcome that. It’s all about the processes and the path to success that you have taught your teams to execute. Now, what about business development strategies? Opposite side of the coin. So conversations with prospects to get a client right? How many clients to speak with in order to secure a job order, what you truly need to know is, how many conversations does it take to get a new client or secure a new job order? Now, when we talk about job orders, it should be how many A or B job orders, like grade them. Not all job orders are created equal and don’t deserve the same amount of time. Take it a step further. What about your billings by client? Yes, it’s important to know the big picture of your total billings, but what’s more important is to know by client basis.

Just like you don’t treat each job order the same, you can’t treat each client the same either. Again, you might be asking, how do I get my teams to improve the speed and quality of business development? Focus on a job order rubric. Do you have one in your organization? Help them establish their value proposition. Understand client engagement strategies again for your industry. Work on open the dialogue scripts to get a conversation going. Use references as leads, overcome resistances with your clients. Establish call blocks and power hours and the investment of planning. Teach your teams and help them understand the recruiter’s reality. Just because there’s a need doesn’t mean it needs a hundred percent of your time. Know what your time’s worth, teach your teams. Use strategies to get better and teach your teams to get selfish. And not only are you as a leader the decipher of metrics, but you teach your teams how to analyze performance metrics.

Help them understand where they are today. How do these metrics predict success for their future? How can you leverage those metrics to get better than the last outing? Maybe, how can you use these metrics to plan success? Don’t forget to go back to the very top of the process and completely reverse engineer those numbers. Understand your average invoice value, which is billings divided by placements, gives you your average invoice value. Are you in staffing? You probably know your starts, but what about your falloffs or your ends? Do you know why those are ending? Is it due to conversations, lack of customer growth, replacement of a resource? You should be able to see the whole picture as you’re trying to nurture and grow your clients and key accounts. What about the average time on assignment and number of people on assignment per customer? What about your gross margin per client?

It’s time we start teaching our teams to invest in the right customers that deserve our time and work the way we need to work. So we’re spinning cycles in the right areas, not just for numbers sake, because spinning cycles equals spending cycles. Sadly, your teams don’t know this and aren’t coached through it. I’ve been there when running my own desk strategy and process wasn’t clear. It was like Swim with the fishes, have fun, figure it out. And I’ve seen it firsthand with so many offices. I can tell you that I personally did exactly what I’m asking you to do. I went into an organization, zero training, zero process laid out. It was essentially hieroglyphics to get a new associate coming into the organization to know how to succeed. Their senior leaders knew, if they were a part of the initial regime and more senior folks coming into the organization could catch on to most of the information, but it was like a special club to know how to get success.

If you were connected to the right person, you could get pieces of it, but there was no follow the yellow brick Road to Success. I came into an organization, mapped out their methodologies and processes, made sure their technology process mapped their desired play of events, and only focused on a few KPIs, worked on coaching those associates coming through the new training for a period of time to get them the knowledge they needed. And do you know what happened? I already told you earlier in the story. That group of new hires increase their gross margin by 146% in the first six months of production compared to the entire previous year of new hires, just by developing foundational processes. To ensure that there were no added steps and by caring about their growth, who doesn’t want that type of success? So please, if you take anything away from today, there is no magic formula.

I’ve said nothing so special to you that you don’t already know. I’ve not given you the keys to the kingdom. I’m not the Super Bowl team, locker room, halftime coach. I don’t even do hands-on recruiting training anymore. But what I do know to be fundamentally true from all of these moments is that by aligning process, metrics, people and a course system for everything that it’s visible and everything’s transparent, you can achieve extraordinary results. Okay, I’m off my soapbox. Katie, I was a little chatty today. I’m so sorry about that. To the AMA, let’s go ahead and move on because I mean I probably could talk for another 40 minutes or so. No

Katie Jones, producer:

No problem at all Kort. Yes, we did get several questions coming in. I’ll have asked to remain anonymous, which is totally fine, of course. So the first question says, when you were talking about training new hires, what comes after that? Is it like a one and done thing? Do they just get the initial training and they graduate? What about our existing or maybe our senior associates?

Kortney Harmon, host:

That’s a great question, and that might be my bad in how I explained my story. I went into an organization and we focus on foundational processes, but it really, we started to see the impact of people coming through the system from the beginning. So those were automatically new hires automatically got enrolled to training. Now, leaders were enrolled in that training too because they were seeing what their new hires were a part of. But after, let’s say two weeks, our training was two weeks. So after those two weeks of training, they have individual one-on-one coaching with someone from the learning and development team at that rate that we went through their metrics, we understand where their submissions were, how they could get better. They were attending improv sessions. So we essentially did example calls with candidates and clients, whether it’s role play, improv, whatever you call it, but it was like simulating those conversations to get them practice in a safe environment.

So we did improv sessions, we did monthly lunch and learns. We did tech trainings. The senior folks got to be involved in there, but also for the senior folks, they went through the training just to level set them. And it was funny, a lot of the senior folks were like, I forgot I’ve been in this industry for so long, I forgot about that. Thank you so much, it was such a good refresher. But we did a certification program. So if you’re within the organization for a year, we funded your way and celebrated you on the process of getting your ASA certification. Within that certification. It went along with your bonuses. It went along with your next step of your career progression within the industry or that company. And then you got to go into, if you wanted to do a mentorship program. So again, earn bonuses, earn points you could get recognized through your growth.

And that’s what we were really trying to get to was really to have a goal of what your career trajectory could be. Because let’s face it, I mean millennials now, they want to know what your learning and development programs are. Gen Zs aren’t even going to talk to you until they know their career progression. That’s just how our generations are going. And we want to be able to say, all right, this is where we are. This is what we offer. And it doesn’t have to be crazy, but it does have to be thought out. It does have to be emphasized, and just that you’re showing that your effort is going in the right place and you’re doing the stuff that you need to for your organization to retain them, to keep them with your organization.

Katie Jones, producer:

I love that. It goes back to what you were talking about a couple episodes ago about what you were learning at SIAs executive forum about the generational differences. And you’re exactly right. I’m a millennial and I know that learning and development is hugely important to our generation. So I love that point. Kortney, that was excellent.

Kortney Harmon, host:

That was my favorite session at SIA executive forum. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved all the other sessions to learn what our industry’s doing, but I am a nerd to understand the why. How does our industry act? People are like, oh, boomers, I love my boomers. My parents are boomers. But I love understanding why they act the way they do and why I act the way I do. I drive my husband crazy by playing devil’s advocate on a daily, but I think it truly helps me understand the why a little bit more. And I’ll say it again. Yes, I knew Jenny’s phone number eight, six, seven, five [inaudible 00:38:52].

Katie Jones, producer:

I love that. We have a great comment that I just can’t ignore that came in the chat while you were discussing that and this person said, your tech stack, your career path and learning and development are a must now. And I know that that’s probably something that we talked about a lot here on the Full Desk Experience that I know that’s something that you’re very passionate about too, Kort.

Kortney Harmon, host:

Of course, if I could talk all day about learning and development, it would be like my life’s goal. I don’t know. For those of you who don’t know my history, I actually went to college to be a teacher. I was an athletic director for five years of an organization. It was like the time when people were going back double dipping. They were going back into education after retirement. So my heart truly is in education. I just got to get a chance to get… I worked at a staffing agency through college because my dad made me get a job because I mean, I was a division one athlete, so the time that I was not playing college ball, he’s like, “Well, you can either go work at a factory or find another job. Wanted me to stay in college.” I’m pretty sure that was the goal.

Don’t get me wrong, I did my time at a factory working third shift at a rubber factory picking black boogers out of my nose. I’m sure that was so lovely, but it was to the fact that I had that staffing experience. So not only is my education there, but then I got that passion and none of us fall into staffing and recruiting for fun that we want to grow up and do this, but I think I perfectly got to merge both of my passions, education and staffing and recruiting into one. And again, it’s the perfect mix for me and it’s just been amazing throughout, and if I can share that passion with people and get them amped up, that’s what I’m here for.

Katie Jones, producer:

Well, as an industry newbie, relatively, I think that you’ve done a great job of it, at least [inaudible 00:40:37] all about the industry, and I know that the sentiments and the comments are that this information is valuable as well. That leads me into my next question actually. That’s not a great segue, but how frequently do you have these growth conversations with your team about those KPIs? And is there a cadence where I should be talking to them too much or too little, or is there such a thing as talking to them too much about this topic?

Kortney Harmon, host:

I think that’s a great question. Some of us want to, especially as leaders, we want to shy away from the discomfort of a conversation, and usually those conversations of discomfort are, you can get better in this way. You feel like you’re molding them, I don’t think it’s that way. I don’t know if you follow, I made a post, maybe it was last night about feedback. And if you’ve known me for any amount of time, again, college athlete, I was a pitcher in college for softball. I always have said, you cannot throw a perfect game without criticism on your no-hitter. As goofy as that sounds. I’m the person that wants feedback. I want to know what I need to do better. Now, that’s not everybody. I do understand that, but you don’t have to have those in conversations to make someone feel that they’re guarded. But I think going back to what Jen Meyer said is having that conversation to know where they want to get to with their income, that gives you permission to have those tough conversations.

I personally love to at least take a portion of my one-on-one time every single week to say, here’s where you are against your goal. Do you have any questions? Hey, I think you could get better at this, but that’s your time to break into the nitty gritty of things and get beyond the, you need to do better. Are you dialing the phone a hundred times and only getting called back twice? Maybe it’s what you’re saying. Maybe it’s you’re not getting a response on your emails, let’s tweak this. That’s as leaders, we were good at those things. At one point in time, we ran a desk, we were successful, and that’s probably put us in the positions we are today. You got promoted or you went into leadership to say, “You know what? I like this. This is where I want to be. This is where I want to stay.”

But you probably had that passion too. So be competitive. Understand that you want to get better and your teams aren’t there just to go through the motions. Most people that stay in recruiting and staffing and recruiting, they like the paycheck. They like what they’re getting out of it, and they never end up leaving. So help them be better at it. It’s only going to make your organization better in the long term. You are going to get more gross margin. Your teams are going to make more money. All in all, it’s a win-win situation. So if I can say anything, I would say weekly and then your quarterly reviews should then be correlated to the same information. But these conversations should not be a shock. It should not be something new to say, “Oh, by the way, we’re a quarter in and I know we haven’t talked about this.” You’re not doing a very good job. That’s what you want to avoid at all costs. So make it brief quick on a weekly basis during your one-on-one conversations. I love that.

Katie Jones, producer:

Thank you. This next question came in as you were talking about those KPIs in the weekly meetings. Is there something that you see or have experience with KPIs that maybe office managers or general managers, senior leadership, whomever hit on too much, that they focus on too much or any that you think that they could focus on more? Like what would be your recommendation of don’t focus on this as much and maybe pay a little bit more attention over here?

Kortney Harmon, host:

I think it really comes down to understanding metric versus KPIs. I know I hit on that, but hold your teams accountable to the three things that move your business forward. I’ve worked at organizations where they have their activities broke down in their ATS to say, these are the activities that move your business forward, those correlate to the KPIs that move your business forward. So those are the things like just like the sourcers, do you need to know that they’re making a hundred calls? Probably not if they’re hitting their submissions, but if they’re not hitting their submissions and they are making those calls, it’s your time to analyze. It’s your time to get down in the nitty gritty. So again, don’t focus on too many things because you’re going to get your people lost. You’re going to get them confused, you’re going to get them disengaged.

And when you hold too many things over people’s heads, I mean, it’s hard to retain people right now in some industries, you don’t want them to jump ship because you’re holding too many things to the fire. So keep your core things, keep it simple. That kiss method, keep it simple, stupid, and really just focus on those areas. Again, you can go back to those metrics to see the whole picture if you need to, but only focus on those three things. Keep it short and sweet and don’t make your teams work harder. They really truly want to know how to do their job at a more successful rate. They want to know how to get more placements with less phone calls. Everyone thinks they can do this job via email, and in reality, it’s truly the human element.

We’ve seen that on the podcast. We’ve seen that in offices galore. It’s about the human element. Teach people how to do their jobs effectively and get the best return out of it. As staffing and recruiting operations leaders, take a market cycle that you may be seeing today to tackle one process at a time. Start from the beginning, your candidate journey or your client journey. Follow it from start to finish. Are your workflows in your ATS and CRM giving you the metrics you need versus the metrics you want? So you can get off the KPI hamster wheel and you can stay away from the quantitative metrics and get to the true qualitative information that you need. Track the metrics through your workflows, measuring the KPIs that matter, and don’t just measure something because it’s easy. Measure something because it helps your teams get better by tweaking effort versus doing more.

Talk to your frontline workers that are truly relying on the tech that isn’t giving you what you actually need. So you’re stuck on the hamster wheel. It’s laughably bad because it’s hard to get data out. Your goal is to break down and develop and reinforce processes, implement good change management, hold teams accountable to ratios and new metrics that matter, so their cash in will increase and you can scale your business. Have your teams working smarter, not harder. Be ready, we’re going to be launching a new type of mini-series for you to listen to. It’s going to be called FDE Express, and in this mini-series, we’ll be exploring specific topics related to growth blockers across people, process, and technologies in quick and concise formats. No 40 minute episodes short and sweet. So each episode will provide you with actionable insight that you can implement right away. So if you’ve enjoyed the show, be sure to subscribe and rate our podcast wherever you listen. Have a great day, guys.

I’m Kortney Harmon with Crelate. Thanks for joining the full desk experience. Please feel free to submit any questions for next session to [email protected] or ask us live next session. If you enjoyed our show, be sure to subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen and sign up to attend future events that happen once a month.

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