If your numbers are below where they need to be, and if you suspect that you might have the wrong team for the job, then it's worth taking a step back to determine what changes you need to make. Changes might mean finding different ways to support underperforming recruiters, or it might mean replacing members of your current team. In this blog I'm going to look at what factors you should consider when making this tough call.
Your Feelings Matter
Before you dive in and scrutinise KPIs, it’s worth considering some of the softer stuff. As leaders, we all rely a great deal on our instincts when making decisions. But it’s important to recognise your thoughts and feelings as well as any other biases that you may have. For example, what if a recruiter that isn’t performing well is a personal friend? Can you be objective about how they are doing? And how do those personal feelings affect your professional decision making?
Your Teams’ Feelings Matter
It’s also important to look at the situation from your employees’ perspective. Are they going through a particularly hard time that could be affecting their performance? If they did well in the past and suddenly their performance has slumped, is that connected to something in their personal life?
You obviously cannot change what’s happening in their personal lives, but knowing about their circumstances will determine how you approach the situation overall. For example, you might find that being supportive and just showing that you care about them as another human being, could give them a lift and help them to find their footing again.
Do they feel stressed? Is that what’s impacting their work? Why is that? It could be because they’re out of their depth and not coping with the job, but it could also be due to other factors. Perhaps their line manager is creating stress or frustration for them because of poor management. Maybe you have a very tough sales focused culture which adds too much pressure to their working life.
Personal and emotional factors considered, you need to stick to the facts when analysing performance. If you don’t have a clear set of KPIs in place, or some type of framework to analyse performance, then it’s very difficult to be objective about how successful your team is. There are lots of metrics to look at but obviously measures of productivity like conversion rate are better than just how much someone has billed.
Assuming that you have performance data, you should analyse specific periods of time in a recruiter’s past. If you have a team that has been active for a while and one individual’s performance has suddenly dropped off, you can benchmark them with the last quarter or even the preceding year. With newer team members, it’s more difficult, and you need to evaluate them based on a lot less data. But even over a period of 3 months, you should start to see patterns.
Many people focus on the dips but the peaks are just as important to consider. Have they ever had a good spell? And what were they doing then? That might highlight a market or type of activity that they’re particularly well suited to. Maybe they’re terrible at business development but excellent at account management of existing clients, or perhaps they might get on better with people in digital marketing than in finance. Understanding what works well can lead to a more effective use of your recruiter, and you can place them in a relevant environment leading to increased success.
Do Your Recruiters Know What They Should Be Doing?
If you have a junior recruiter that’s not hitting their targets, and you’ve ruled out the other factors, have you checked that they know what they should be doing? It seems obvious, but it’s quite common that people don’t get clear guidance from their line manager on what’s expected of them. This should have been covered in their structured induction or training programme when they started and then reinforced by their manager. If there are gaps in your onboarding process or your management approach, then you must identify them ASAP and get a plan in place to address those issues.
People Can Change… But Will They?
If you’re working out a plan with someone in order to improve their performance you need to gauge how receptive and motivated they are to own this plan. There’s no point in forcing a plan on someone who doesn’t want it, and you could end up doing a lot more harm than good - not just to the individual but to the team as a whole.
When it comes to evaluating your team, it’s worth investing a good deal of thought. Your recruiters are people, with personal lives, and there are numerous variables that could affect their performance.
But, once all is said and done, the final decision rests on your shoulders. So make sure that your opinion is informed and as free from bias as possible. Whether you replace or retrain underperforming team members is down to your management style.
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Alan is an advisor here at Firefish with experience in both sales and marketing.