Why is ‘KPI’ such a dirty phrase in recruitment?
Whenever the phrase ‘KPI’ is mentioned within the recruitment industry it tends to get greeted with a wince or an ignorance to think that 'KPI analysis doesn't apply to me'. It's crazy to think that it is such a dirty phrase in our industry when actually it is the backbone of what any performance based culture revolves around.
Think about the very top level of sport for a moment - Football, Golf or F1. KPI's in those industries are everything; to the point where they now have whole TV shows just discussing KPI’s for entertainment (Mr Carragher and Mr Neville have teams of analysts at their disposal for the MNF show). In day to day practice the players don't shy away from it, they embrace it. They use every ounce of data to improve themselves, partly because that's the culture, but mainly because they are so driven by the success.
David Brailsford (Head of GB Cycling & Team Sky) is the king of this type of thinking; he uses the concept of ‘The aggregation of marginal gains’. His whole concept of thinking was that if Team Sky improved everything by 1%, then they would win the Tour De France. When he took over the Team Sky he set the target to achieve this in 5 years’ time, he was wrong, they won it in 3 years.
Now, I appreciate that this doesn't happen as much further down the sporting pyramid, but surely we all need to be aspiring to be at the very top of our game and therefore, ‘to be the best, you need to act like the best’.
One such reason that it could be treated as such a dirty phrase is that recruitment consultants and sales people in the wider context, don't actually want to be held accountable if they are going through a bad period or month, it's much easier to blame the market, clients or candidates.
If this sounds familiar, take a deep breath, grow some cohunes, and take time to understand and know your ratios / KPI’s as this will give you a quicker route to identifying the problem and will give you a blueprint to get you back on the right track.
I can imagine there will be people reading this blog turning a blind eye or saying it doesn't apply to me. If that's you, go and enjoy Sunday league football, because you’re treating your career like a hobby. If you’re serious about making it to the top and making a fruitful career out of recruitment, embrace KPI's, learn to understand your performance and improve yourself every single day as a result.
I firmly believe management and directors need to have KPI’s as the fundamental backbone of their business. If you ever hear anyone says we are not KPI orientated business, run a mile, they are in denial and are probably 'winging' it.
Ramming KPI's down a recruitment consultant’s throat in a dictatorial fashion is never productive and it's not how we run our business, but the industry should certainly not be shy in discussing them and developing action plans. ‘You can’t manage, what you don’t measure’, so how can a leaders effectively devise an incentive or decide what training / master classes to run if they don't identify the areas that need working on.
Looking at KPI's and ratios is like an MRI scan, if an issue is arising, deal with it sooner, before it's too late!