Tips for Measuring Recruiters

Are you measuring a compliant Claire…Or a Rebellious Robert?

When making the choice to set KPI’s I would advise you are clear on the reason why you are setting them in the first place.  To help the individual, to give direction or to check up on individuals?

Compliant Claire can be compared to Lisa Simpson: ‘nice, willing, compliant, honest and very eager to please.  Having a detailed outline of what Compliant Claire needs to do could work well for her…as long the instructions are clear not open to interpretation.  Someone like Compliant Claire will need specific and measurable KPI’s so she can ensure she achieves them.



Setting clear and measurable KPI’s is only one part of the process.  The goals needs to be realistic to the skill set, time available and ability of the person.  When KPI’s are set beyond someone’s skill level, training and coaching is critical.  If someone like Compliant Claire is unable to achieve their KPI’s, low morale can set in quickly and they become disheartened.

Someone like Compliant Claire will need to understand why the KPI activities have been set and how they fit into the grand scheme.  Knowing the cause and impact of achieving and not achieving KPI’s need to be clear so she can get on board.  When Compliant Claire’s are achieving the KPI’s set they will be highly motivated and driven to continue to please you.  However, when they are on a downward spiral they will need picking up and re-motivated.  This can take a high emotional investment from the manager to refocus Compliant Claire’s when there is a dip in activity.  Compliant Claire’s tend to try their hardest to achieve all targets in order to help support their team and contribute to the success. 

Tip One:

If a KPI is unclear i.e. Contact five customers per day – this can cause issues later.  Compliant Claire will contact five customers in the communication channel she is more comfortable with i.e. emails.  If the person setting the KPI wanted Compliant Claire to call each customer and gather more company information then technically they may consider Compliant Claire as failing the task.

Tip Two:

Someone’s performance isn’t judged purely on the KPI results. There are a number of factors influencing performance.  If KPIs are set, it is down to the manager to coach, guide and mentor the individual so they can achieve them.  Regular communication and monitoring of individual performance is important to prevent long term morale and under performance issues.  Earlier feedback is needed to turn around any gaps in the results.

 Tip Three:

Compliant Claire will see KPI’s as compliance and will do her utmost to achieve them.  She will be over-critical on herself especially if the KPI’s are not being achieved.  I’ve seen a  Compliant Claire’s morale drop as they have gotten themselves into a negative thought spiral.  Lateness, sickness and general withdrawal from the team has reared its ugly head.


Rebellious Robert, has a character similar to Bart Simpson: mischievous, knows best, cunning, strong willed, influential, spontaneous, lazy and dominant…imagine if Bart Simpson worked for you…or does he already?



Manager’s tend to set KPI’s for Rebellious Robert’s to keep them under control, to keep them focused and challenged.  Whilst on paper that sounds feasible, in reality measuring a Rebellious Robert against a flimsy KPI is like trying to staple jelly to a wall.  A Rebellious Robert will be more motivated if he has had a hand at shaping his goals. Dictating and micromanaging a Rebellious Robert without giving him any freedom to take control in achieving the goals could result in childlike behaviour which can be exhausting to manage.

Rebellious Robert will need clear boundaries with KPI’s linked to rewards and personal acclaim.  If there is any ambiguity in the KPI you can be sure a  Rebellious Robert will wriggle out of it – claiming lack of clarity in what is expected.  A Rebellious Robert doesn’t have to have prescribed KPI’s, they can perform and thrive with just having the end goal as their only measurement criteria.  For example, to achieve £5k of sales from existing customers and £3k from new business each week, margins no lower than 30%.

Tip one:

If no KPI’s are set performance management becomes even more important.  Quietly observe behaviour and activity before 1:1’s and feedback sessions so you have logical evidence for any feedback.  Rebellious Robert will have an answer for everything!

 Tip two:

Rebellious Robert can flourish from a manager that positively challenges him and drives the activity.  Rebellious Robert can get bored very quickly…and when Rebellious Robert gets bored mischief and time-wasting can quickly follow.  Inspire Rebellious Robert to stretch his ability and aim for above the minimum standards.

 Tip three:

Rebellious Robert’s tend to be self-absorbed and therefore they will need to see a clear benefit to them before getting on board with ideas and challenges.   Goals, KPI’s and ad-hoc projects will need to be linked to Rebellious Roberts career goals and personal motivation.  Influence Rebellious Robert’s by clearly demonstrating the WIIFM “What in it for me”!

In summary:

The term KPI is a term for activity that can help achieve an overall goal. It’s not a negative word but the misuse of them can often associate negative feelings.

  • Be clear on why you are setting KPI’s in the first place i.e. to measure success, guide to what activities need to happen, as a big brother monitoring process or just because its something you think you should have but not sure what they should be.
  • Ensure that KPIs are crystal clear – they need to show a finish date/time,  what has to happen and to what standard, what needs to be achieved.
  • Watch for KPI’s that impact on other areas on the business.  For example “I don’t keep up to date with customers once they’ve brought from me as I’m measured on my total new business sales figure”.  Achieving KPI’s at the detriment of common sense and other key activities are collective and trends need to be closely monitored.
  • Consequence – what is the consequence of not consistently achieving KPI’s?  If you’re answering “nothing” in response to that question then there is no point in setting them.  People tend to do what is measured, especially in stressful and tight timescales.

Sarah Church

Sarah Church is a Managing Director at Fifth Element Solutions and manages the Learning and Development service line. Her highly motivational down-to-earth training approach means participants are easily able to apply the learning to their unique environment. Using real life practical methodology it maximises the participants and their organisations time and money investment. Sarah has been in the recruitment world for over 17 years’. She started her career developing highly successful Contract/Temporary and Permanent desks and was quickly promoted to Sales and Development Manager where key responsibilities included developing long-term business relationships with new key clients. During her experience Sarah was tasked with turning around underperforming recruitment business making a financial loss into profit making centres. Reviewing, coaching, mentoring, and advising managers and their staff on how to adapt best practice and processes to ensure the avoided closure. Her philosophy in business is “If things don’t go right, turn left”.

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