Avoiding the Pitfalls of Metrics Driven Management

Most staffing executives and managers understand the value of metrics. They see the visibility it can provide and how it allows them to make better strategic and tactical decisions. However, what we rarely discuss are the pitfalls of metrics based management. These pitfalls can effectively banish common sense and replace it with bureaucratic certainty where rule enforcement dominates management decision making. Rule based management does have its place, but taken too far it can compromise adaptability and lead to a demotivated workforce. Below are a couple common pitfalls and how staffing managers can avoid them. Pitfall One: Driving Non-Productive Activity Potential Problem: Focusing on activity is an effective management strategy for a junior level employee who needs to develop disciplined habits. However, as a producer becomes more experienced and successful, focusing solely on activity metrics can be both demotivating and unproductive. In addition, the focus on activity may compromise the quality of the work. A sales person can definitely hit their meeting number, but are those meetings with people that generate business is a completely different matter. Solution: Define the Key Measure of Accountability It is a manager’s job to define the key measure of accountability for the different roles … Read More

The Value of Planning

Is your management team too busy with the day-to-day operations, that they cannot step back and determine the future direction of the company? “Tactical busyness” is a common problem with the lean management teams in the staffing industry. They are so focused on the fires in front of them they cannot address long-term issues. This short term focus traps them in a reactive loop that undermines their ability to improve and direct the organization. About a year ago I was speaking with a software vendor who needed help with an unhappy client. It seems the client purchased their software, but management took a very hands-off approach on its implementation. This lack of leadership led to very poor tool adoption and productivity actually decreased. In response, the leadership team blamed the tool. This wasn’t a question of management being lazy or indifferent. As a matter of fact, these managers worked long hours and were very passionate about the success of the business. This is a great example of a management team that is so involved in the daily business that they do not take a hard look at what they should be doing. The core of the problem is role confusion … Read More

Webinar: Metrics for the Staffing Industry

On Thursday, July 26, I will be hosting a webinar sponsored by eRecruit on Metrics for the Staffing Industry. In this webinar, I will discuss how the right metrics portfolio can empower management decision making to ensure both short and long term competitiveness. It is important to understand that the right metric portfolio can help executives and leaders Measure Results Provide a Leading Indicator Identify Operational Weaknesses Reveal Investment Opportunites Drive Individual Accountability Measure Change In this webinar, we will discuss Financial Metrics as well as Personnel Metrics and Operational Metrics. The Operational Metrics will include both the Sales and Delivery Model. Once the right metrics portfolio is in place, the metrics can help quantify change, determine if change is feasible, provide data for effective change management and hold all levels of the organization accountable. I look forward to having you join us on this Metrics Webinar. Mike Cleland President, Charted Path

Strong Managers Have a Balanced Perspective

Article Two in a Five Part Series: Several years ago I had a new recruiting manager come to me complaining that they couldn’t get their work done because they kept getting interrupted. In an attempt to learn more about the predicament, I asked for more details. He then began to craft for me a laundry list of fires he had to put out from addressing conflicts between team members to listening to employees discuss personal issues. Of course, he was disappointed to hear that addressing these daily interruptions is part of management. Too often, however, these interruptions can drive a manager to only think reflexively, to only worry about the next immediate problem and forget about one of the most important responsibilities of the job: Improving the Organization. This limited perspective of the job responsibilities is completely natural for a manager who must constantly address internal issues that come to their desk day in and day out. However, the question remains if management is solely focused on the present, then who is preparing for the future? The answer is “no one”. It is for this reason that managers must work to pull themselves out of the day-to-day and become more externally … Read More

Relationships Still Rule, But…..

Back in the early 90s when I entered this business, I was exposed to a simple yet accurate description of the staffing industry by Al Dubuc of Oz Enterprises- “People selling people to people”.  The crux of that definition was that this business runs on the strengths of one-on-one relationships with clients and consultants. However, as clients have changed how they purchase staffing services and candidates have change how they look for jobs, the business has become more complex. While the ability to build long lasting trusting relationships is still critical to a staffing company’s success, other critical factors have crept in over the last decade and altered the landscape of how we need to view and manage this rapidly changing business. Developing Internal Talent:  Companies are frustrated by the inability to hire qualified sales and recruiting talent.  Relying on hiring experienced and qualified talent that are willing to leave their current position has become exceedingly difficult for a variety of reasons.  The alternative is to hire less experienced people and train them.  However, most companies are ill prepared to hire and develop inexperienced talent, but you don’t have to look far to see the return on such an approach. … Read More

Letterman’s Legacy

Recently, I stumbled across some articles that made some interesting claims including the “The ten dumbest management trends” and “The ten worst business ideas ever”.  It makes me want to write an article titled “The top ten management articles that make controversial overgeneralizations to drive web traffic”.  I understand why people structure their articles around lists, and if you want readership, then it pays to be as dramatic as possible.  Drama is entertaining.  Also, it certainly sets the expectations that the article is going to be relatively short and what manager wouldn’t want to know the top ten of anything? People love lists.  You see them everywhere on the internet from major news organizations to everyday blogs.  Lists suggest both a level of research and authority.  Initially, many lists were around interesting facts or well researched theory.  Lists are easy to digest, make for good trivia and provide a level of entertainment.  Lists can also provide important structure around management issues that can be difficult to define.  My upcoming webinar incorporates “Five Sales Drivers” is one example of that technique. However, reading these lists on management practices gives me cause for concern.  Lists that make sweeping generalizations are more about … Read More

Hiring For Drive

One of the most common questions I get from staffing managers is whether it’s better to hire experienced or green sales people. Leveraging my years of experience, I can confidently answer that I really don’t know. I have come to this conclusion because I have seen both profiles succeed and fail. In the end, it seems experience level is a poor predictor of performance. This assertion is supported by a study conducted by American Psychologists Frank Schmidt and John Hunter, who discovered that basing hiring decision on experience level had only slightly better results than a coin flip or hand writing analysis. Neither of which is terribly effective. I’m not saying that experience should not be considered, far from it, the level of experience an employee has should play an important role. However in screening candidates, experience should be balanced by those difficult to define qualities that drive the focus and perseverance of most successful sales people. In their book “Never Hire a Bad Sales Person”, Dr. Christopher Corner and Richard Abraham leverage years of data to capture personality characteristics that are consistent with top producers. The compilation of these characteristics is what they refer to as Drive. Drive is that persistent motivation … Read More

Are the Scales of Talent Tipping?

From my discussions with many staffing owners and executives, things are getting better. Job orders are up, clients are moving faster and it seems more and more likely that the worst of the great recession may be behind us. This uptick is especially true for IT staffing. This is good news, but it does bring with it issues that managers have not faced in a long time including hiring and retaining top talent. Staffing companies live off of the need for talent, but we are facing a bit of a crisis of our own. I speak with staffing managers every day and the common focus area is hiring top sales and recruiting personnel. The sales side can be particularly vexing for managers that are just looking for “A hunter that can bring in business quickly”. These people may exist, but I make a point in my TechServe Rainmaker article that it is less a hiring strategy than it is wishful thinking. Similar issues are found in finding recruiting talent. The fact of the matter is for the foreseeable future in order for companies to build competitive teams, they need to build three critical capabilities: Retain Existing Talent: These last two years have been … Read More

The End of Management

A couple weeks ago I was browsing through the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal and stumbled on an article titled “The End of Management”.     Contrary to what it suggests, the point of the article is not to rid companies of management, but to challenge the perception of the role of management as it faces unprecedented change.  One only has to look at the hyper-accelerated changes in the marketplace to realize that hierarchal or bureaucratic management approaches are outdated and in many cases are harmful to a company’s ability to adapt.  This dynamic is captured in the following paragraph discussing creative destruction: “Yet in today’s world, gale-like market forces—rapid globalization, accelerating innovation, relentless competition—have intensified what economist Joseph Schumpeter called the forces of “creative destruction.” Decades-old institutions like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns now can disappear overnight, while new ones like Google and Twitter can spring up from nowhere. A popular video circulating the Internet captures the geometric nature of these trends, noting that it took radio 38 years and television 13 years to reach audiences of 50 million people, while it took the Internet only four years, the iPod three years and Facebook two years to do … Read More

Budgeting Behavior

Staffing is a rapidly changing, people driven business, so I have always struggled with the role of the budget in managing the day-to-day operations over the course of an entire year.  While I know budgets are necessary, they can also exert a negative influence on management decisions and employee behavior that can be traced back to the budget process itself.  Jack Welch’s view on the budgeting process may seem a bit extreme, however; it does highlight the pitfalls of a poorly conceived budgeting process. “The budgeting process at most companies has to be the most ineffective practice in management. It sucks the energy, time, fun and big dreams out of an organization; it hides opportunity and stunts growth. It brings out the most unproductive behaviors in an organization, from sandbagging to settling for mediocrity.” Jack is not the only one to express those sentiments.  Many companies have seen their budgeting process stifle innovation and undermine management collaboration.  Does your budgeting process spend too much time negotiating and positioning future expectations, and too little time discussing how the business is actually going to grow and outmaneuver the competition? If the answer is yes, then I would encourage you to challenge your … Read More