[Podcast] Do my teams hate me? Leadership Strategies to Drive Team Performance while Boosting Morale

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Show notes

In this episode of The Full Desk Experience, host Kortney Harmon and producer Katie Jones dive into a letter from an overwhelmed recruiting manager who’s finding themselves torn between leadership’s expectations and their team’s morale. The manager seeks advice on how to improve recruiting metrics without compromising quality or burning out the team. Kortney offers practical solutions, emphasizing open communication, focusing on quality over quantity, and doubling down on coaching and development. With empathy and hands-on coaching, the team can hit their targets while maintaining morale. Tune in for valuable insights on balancing the demands of upper management and the well-being of your team.


Kortney Harmon [00:00:01]:
Hi, I’m Kortney Harmon, director of industry relations at Crelate. Over the past decade, I’ve trained thousands of frontline recruiters and have worked with hundreds of business owners and executives to help their firms and agencies grow. This is the full desk Experience, a crelate original podcast where we will be talking about growth blockers across your people, processes, and technologies. While welcome to another episode of the full Desk experience.

Katie Jones [00:00:36]:
Hey, court, how’s it going?

Kortney Harmon [00:00:38]:
Happy Monday.

Katie Jones [00:00:39]:

Kortney Harmon [00:00:39]:
It is a Monday, right?

Katie Jones [00:00:40]:
It is. I mean, it’ll be Thursday when this drops, but yes, for all intents and purposes, today it is Monday.

Kortney Harmon [00:00:46]:
I love it. I love it. How are you?

Katie Jones [00:00:48]:
Good, good. I think we’re going to try something new. You in for it?

Kortney Harmon [00:00:51]:
I love me a new challenge. What are we doing, Katie?

Katie Jones [00:00:54]:
Well, we actually got a really fun letter into our full [email protected] email address and I was hoping that I could read it here and we can help. This person stalls their conundrum.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:06]:
Like, kind of like a dear Abby or am I the asshole kind of thing?

Katie Jones [00:01:10]:
Even better. It’s do my teams hate me?

Kortney Harmon [00:01:13]:
Yes. How fun is this? I love it. I can’t wait.

Katie Jones [00:01:16]:
This is so fun. All right, so the letter starts out, dear Kortney, I’m a fairly new leader at a large staffing company and I’ve been tasked with improving our recruiting metrics, but my teams seem to hate me. Now for context, our recruiting numbers have been stagnant. Leadership wants to see more candidates interviewed, more offers extended, and more roles filled each month. So I’ve set lofty goals for my teams around candidate pipeline growth, interview volume to impact their offer acceptance rates and decrease their time to fill. The problem is, my team sees these metrics as arbitrary and unfair. They say we’re now doing things just to check boxes instead of focusing on hiring quality, talent. Big brotherish, I guess.

Katie Jones [00:02:04]:
For example, we’re interviewing more candidates who aren’t great fits. Or we are just extending offers to borderline candidates just to improve our numbers. My team complains that this wastes their time and compromises our hiring standards because of the hoops they’re having to jump through. I guess I can see their perspective, but I’m stuck between leadership wanting to see better recruiting metrics and a team that resents me. Now by being measured this way, I worry that they see me as the bad guy for enforcing these targets when I’m just trying to follow orders from the top. At the same time, I know we need to improve our recruiting output. Have you dealt with a situation like this before. How can I get my team on board with hitting our new recruiting goals without burning them out or damaging morale? I want them to understand these metrics are important for the health of our organization, even if they feel unrealistic right now.

Katie Jones [00:02:54]:
But they seem to hate me for pushing so hard on numbers they think are arbitrary. What should I do? Sincerely, the overwhelmed recruiting manager oh my.

Kortney Harmon [00:03:04]:
Gosh, I love this. This is so fun. Thank you for doing this. Okay, so overwhelmed recruiting manager, as your identity, you are not alone. I love this as much as I understand there’s a struggle for you at this moment. I have witnessed this so many times and I really can understand that difficult position you’re in as a leader, trying to balance the priorities of your upper management with concerns of your team. This is a struggle in many of the offices that I’ve worked with before, but it’s really understanding the difficult balancing act that you’re facing and knowing it’s going to impact their morale, right. Your team’s morale.

Kortney Harmon [00:03:43]:
But there are solutions that I’ve seen tackled a few different ways. So I will say, number one, your first key is open communication. And whenever you think that way, it’s not necessarily coming up with a solution for them. But have an honest discussion with your team to get their perspectives. Acknowledge that maybe this is unrealistic pressures that they’re feeling with these new goals and what they’re creating. But also explain the why, why leadership is pushing for better recruiting metrics and numbers and how it relates to the health of the business. Sometimes teams don’t see that larger picture, but where I feel you might be missing the message is by seeking their input on how to improve processes in a way that really feels purposeful and not really like checking off the box or big brother or arbitrary, so to say. So you really need to find that collaborative middle ground.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:35]:
So think about it. Can you identify a few key metrics to focus on that will maybe drive results without compromising quality? And a lot of the conversations I’ve had already this year, it’s really about quality versus quantity, about engagement. So think about maybe submissions and placements for you may be more meaningful than interview volume or candidate pipeline growth. Really having highlighting those efficiency numbers and coaching versus the higher numbers at the beginning like phone time. So for metrics, obviously focusing on quality of the submission and the placement over the interview volume of the candidate, right. You’re going to be able to understand what it takes. Does it take you ten interviews for one submission or one interview or five to one? You need to track those submission to placement ratios as an efficiency measure, yes, but provide transparency into the metrics of the goal and make sure your teams can see the numbers in their system at their disposal versus like holding this meeting over their head each and every week to say, well, you didn’t hit your number this week, your teams being able to self regulate is really important to understand where they are and hitting the goals that you have set for your teams. So think about how you change the outcome, not increase the score.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:55]:
Double down on coaching and development from my personal experience I’ve seen training and coaching drive dramatic improvements. So you should set up maybe regular coaching sessions, best practice sessions, role plays for objections and peer mentoring and incorporate this coaching into one on one to share constructive feedback. I’m going to give you an example. At my last company we implemented extensive new hire training and we saw huge gains. Whenever I say that that means gross margin for new sales and recruiting hires increased listen up 142% over the first three months after we implemented that training. So we tailored micro learnings, job assessments like the need to know, the process in which we wanted our teams to follow and our satisfaction scores went up. People felt more in the know and we saw an increase in productivity and overall numbers. So do that implement training, take that one step further and really focus on coaching.

Kortney Harmon [00:07:01]:
Double down on it. Think about setting up regular sessions to share best practices, whether it’s sourcing, screening candidates that you’re closing, responding to resistance work on scripts. Scripts are one of my favorite things ever. It’s not necessarily what you say, it’s how you say it. My mom has said that from the beginning and it’s really ring true as I experience this. So maybe identify team members with strengths to shadow. Don’t think this is like for you to go all alone and you have to solve this problem, but maybe you could facilitate mentorships between star performers and new recruiters. The key to making coaching a success is really upskilling, being deliberate, making tangible and ongoing growth goals.

Kortney Harmon [00:07:46]:
So tie the development goals directly to the business metrics that would move your business forward, not just checkboxes to be able to go through. So you really need to foster an environment of continuous improvement versus chasing arbitrary numbers with the balance of those goals. Empathetic leadership, hands on coaching, you can boost performance that your leaders are truly looking for, all with while keeping your morale intact of your team. So make sure you keep communicating frequently. Update your leadership with your approach on the challenges unrealistic goals while motivating your team around a shared purpose. With that patience and partnership, you can get the numbers that work for both your management and your staff. The health of your business really relies on the health of your system and your team. So I hope this advice maybe helps provide a path forward.

Kortney Harmon [00:08:41]:
I would love to know how that conversation goes. And if you need more guidance through that situation, be sure to reach out because this is fun. Katie, I love this. To be able to do these kind of things and really realize that you are not alone in situations like this. Just put more light on it to say, what have you seen work? How can I do better? Training, coaching and really focusing on one to three goals is going to be your key to success moving forward.

Katie Jones [00:09:05]:
Absolutely. Kort, I think that you gave some really great tangible takeaways. You know, if you’re listening, you’re like, hey, I’ve got a problem. Do my team hate me? Feel free to email us at [email protected] love it.

Kortney Harmon [00:09:17]:
Thank you so much for bringing this question to us. I hope we have more of these and I can’t wait. Thank you very much. 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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