The phone rang. I answered. A new client started to unburden himself. His name was Benjamin. He was concerned about his somewhat anemic production in this sluggish economy. His was not an uncommon call these days. As the year begins to wind down, many of my clients are looking back over their production and, if substandard, are begging for help. Ben was one of these. He had heard me speak at a virtual summit and, since I was one of his favorites, was very excited about working with me. He had started his own firm eight years ago and had grown it at one point to ten recruiters. Now he had seven. His personal production had been as high as $550,000, but was now down in the $300,000 range. Technically, he knew how to do this business, but he had forgotten the ‘structure’ part of the equation. And so, Ben and I began by building the right foundation. We began with Goal Setting for the coming year.
When you contemplate any new venture, you want to make sure that you are not bringing any old baggage with you. You want to approach new goal setting with a blank slate—a tabula rasa. Have you ever been in an upscale restaurant and the waiter brings you a sorbet between courses so that you can cleanse your palette of any previous taste before trying the next course? That’s the perspective we want to operate from as we set our new goals for next year. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. We want to leave them in the past. How many times have we heard the famous quote that, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?” Let’s not be insane as we plan for the future.
Sometimes, in this cleansing phase, it is beneficial to revisit some literature that has moved you in the past. I like to re-read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. In his little book, which is chock full of great advice, Don Miguel covers the four agreements we need to make with ourselves. In abbreviated format, they are to speak with integrity; not to take anything personally; not to make assumptions; and to always do your best. I will let you discover the wisdom of this book yourself, but I believe that Don Miguel sets the stage so that we can be successful in any new endeavor.
The Four Central Principles of Goal Setting
- The goal must be in writing. If it is not in writing it is a ‘wish,’ not a ‘goal.’
- It must be vividly imagined. Pictures of your goals at your desk are good here.
- It must be ardently desired. You must really, really want it.
- You must be committed to it.
If these four principles are in play, then the goal exists and you will have a good shot of attaining it. At the end of the day, goal setting can be fun. Stay with me. It’s easier than you think!
Yearly Planning Worksheet*
Now let’s look at what Ben wants to personally produce, on his own desk, in the coming year. This does not include the production of his recruiters. Once we get his goal number, we can break it down and tell him what he needs to do on a daily basis to reach that number.
Basically, Ben wants to revisit his top production days of a couple of years ago and so we set a new goal for him of $500,000. I am going to modify this number a little and use $508,032 to make my math easier for you to follow. This is how it works…
- Take the $508,032 and add to it any fixed and variable expenses which will be incurred during the year, especially office expenses. In Ben’s case, his expenses are already taken care of from the income earned from his recruiters, so we don’t add anything to his initial number. This is Net Cash-In.
- Now take the $508,032 and divide this by .90 for the fall-off factor. Big Billers feel that if they can keep their fall-off factor at less than 10%, that is acceptable, keeping in mind the fall-offs do occur, many times through no fault of our own. So we get a new number of $564,480. This is Net Billing
- Now take the $564,480 and divide this by .98 for the bad debt factor. Big Billers feel that if they can keep their bad debt factor at less than 2%, then that is acceptable, especially in this economy. So we get a new number of $576,000. This is Gross Billing.
- Now take the $576,000 and divide this by Ben’s average fee of $18,000. That will give us 32. So Ben needs to make 32 placements annually to achieve his goal of $500,000. This is Net Placements.
Now let’s proceed to Level Two:
- Take those 32 placements and divide by 12 months. Ben needs to make 2.7 placements per month.
- Now take those 32 placements and multiple them by Ben’s Send Out First (SO1) to Placement Ratio of 7:1. All Big Billers know their SO1-Placement ratio. That number is 224, on a yearly basis. Divide that number by 52 weeks and you get 4.3. Ben needs to arrange 4.3 SO1s per week.
- Now take those 32 placements and multiple them by Ben’s Job Order (JO) to Placement Ratio of 4:1. All Big Billers know their JO-Placement ratio. That number is 128, on a yearly basis. Divide that number by 52 weeks and you get 2.5. Ben needs to write 2.5 JOs per week.
- Now take the number of Send Outs arranged on a yearly basis (224) and multiply those by ten because it generally takes a Big Biller ten connect calls with the Hiring Manager (HM) to arrange one SO1. That number is 2240 (yearly). Divide 2240 by 260 (workdays in a year) and we get 8.6. Ben needs to make 8.6 marketing ‘connect’ calls per day.
- Now take the number of placements (32) and multiple them by Ben’s Recruit Hit (Rec) to Placement Ratio of 8:1. All Big Billers know their Rec-Placement ratio. Now take that number and multiple it by 10 because it generally takes a Big Biller 10 connect calls with a potential Recruit before they recruit one. That number is 2560 (yearly). Divide 2560 by 260 (workdays in a year) and we get 9.8. Ben needs to make 9.8 recruiting ‘connect’ calls per day.
If Ben achieves all of those activity goals, he will reach his main goal of $500,000.
And there you have it. Pretty simple, no?
*(for more information on the planning worksheet see, TFL, January 2006, “TBMG Planning Worksheet For Recruiters 2006”, pp. 26-27).
Do you remember when you were in school and were eagerly anticipating your two week Christmas break and your most demanding teacher gave you a book report to complete during the break when you had more fun activities planned? Well, what did you do? You did what most of the rest of us did. You waited until the night before you were to return to school to read the entire book and write the report. But not everyone did it that way. The honor students took that book, divided it into fourteen manageable daily segments, completed their assignments on time and still had time for all of their fun activities. You remember them don’t you? They’re the ones who got all of the “A’s” and screwed up the bell curve.
Well, we can take those honor student lessons and apply them to our recruiting profession.
The Quarterly Modularized Goal Sheet
Now let’s take a couple of numbers from Ben’s Yearly Planning Worksheet and use them to construct our Quarterly Goal Sheets.
Keeping in mind that there are thirteen weeks in a quarter, not twelve, let’s draw up two charts:
1. Production Chart
Let’s take Ben’s Gross Billing number of $576,000 and divide it by four (four quarters in a year). That gives us $144,000. Ben needs to bill $144,000 per quarter to attain his goal. Let’s divide $144,000 by thirteen weeks and we get $11,077. Ben needs to produce $11,077 (or more) per week. In week two he needs to have produced at least $22,154 (11,077 x 2). In week three he needs to have produced at least $33,231 ($11,077 x 3), etc.
Now get out some graph paper. Number from 1 to 13 (weeks in a quarter) on the horizontal axis and put in the $ numbers on the vertical axis ($11,077 on the first line, $22,154 on the second line, etc.). Fill in thirteen lines. Your last line should read $144,001. Now draw a gradual “tracking” line from the bottom left to the upper right of your graph. When you are finished you will have completed your first quarterly $ production chart.
At the end of each week, Ben will look at his production and, above the appropriate week, put a dot. Then, over the thirteen weeks, he will just connect the dots. As long as he stays on track he will produce $144,000 in this quarter.
Now for chart #2…
2. Placements Made Chart
Let’s take Ben’s Net Placement number of 32 and divide it by four (four quarters in a year). That gives us eight. Ben needs to make eight placements per quarter to attain his goal. Let’s divide eight by thirteen weeks and we get .62. Ben needs to make .62 of a placement (or more) per week. In week two he needs to have made at least 1.24 (.62 x 2). In week three he needs to have made at least 1.86 (.62 x 3), etc.
Now get out some more graph paper. Number from 1 to 13 (weeks in a quarter) on the horizontal axis and put in the placements made numbers on the vertical axis (.62 on the first line, 1.24 on the second line, etc.). Fill in thirteen lines. Your last line should read 8.06. Now draw a gradual “tracking” line from the bottom left to the upper right of your graph. When you are finished you will have completed your first quarterly placements made chart.
At the end of each week, Ben will look at his placements made and, above the appropriate week, put a dot. Then, over the thirteen weeks, he will just connect the dots. As long as he stays on, or above, the “tracking” line, he will make eight placements in this quarter.
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Is Talent Acquisition a Strategic Business Partner to Companies?
Not bad, huh? Maybe those honor students were right after all!
Here is some advice for those of you with larger operations—translated, that means for those of you who don’t work by yourself.
Mike Crosswell was a colleague of mine and a friend. I met Mike during the mid-1990s when I was frequently travelling to the UK to train and coach recruiters and recruiter managers. Mike was the owner of Blue Arrow, the largest privately-owned staffing organization in the UK.
One night, over dinner, Mike explained to me how they ‘goal set’ at Blue Arrow. Mike told me that he had too often seen recruitment firms let their coming year’s goals be set for them by their individual recruiters instead of by upper management. In other words, the goal commitments were coming solely from the “bottom up” instead of from the “top down In business schools, they call this “undercut management.” Mike wanted to blend the top down and bottom up approaches to goal setting.
Mike explained that at Blue Arrow they collaborate with their managers to decide what their total revenue will be for the coming year. Then, when the individual managers return to their offices with their assigned revenue goals, they divide and assign portions to each of their recruiters based on the recruiter’s past revenue flow histories and future projections. To allow each recruiter to take ownership of their goal, the manager asks each one, “Can you attain that number?” If they answer “yes,” then the goal is set in concrete. If they answer “no,” or say that they are not sure, this follow-up question is asked, “What can I do, as your manager, to ensure that you hit this number?”
At the end of this process, which is much like cutting up an apple pie, the manager has developed a consensus with his/her recruiters and knows what the recruiters expect from management to help guarantee the recruiter’s individual numbers.
By using Mike Crosswell’s format, Blue Arrow constantly hit their goals and eliminated year-end surprises. It’s as simple as that.
It is clear that you teach best by what you actually do. If you are a good role model for your office, your recruiters will follow your lead. If you are not a good role model for your recruiters, they will still follow your lead. You lead best through positive modeling.
In one study, recruiters stressed that the help they viewed as the most valuable from their managers was practical, situation-specific advice offered in a positive manner.
The secondary motivators were:
- Attention, approval and recognition from the manager and the other recruiters;
- The satisfaction that comes from belonging to a cohesive work group;
- The status and recognition that comes from being recognized as an “expert” in some aspect of the work;
- The challenge and variety possible in the work.
I want to make one final point. Always remember that you need to be positive in the implementation of your goals. If you say that you can’t do something, your subconscious mind, which makes up 90% of your brain and controls your behavior, will agree with you and you will fail. Your subconscious mind is there to protect you and will help you to be successful if you give it the proper reinforcement. So make sure that you are always giving positive signals to your subconscious. If you are having trouble being positive, here’s a helpful hint. Try this quote, “People are amazed at how good I am at ________” (you fill in the blank). Since your subconscious doesn’t know negation, it will agree with you and your life will change! Activities that were your weakest will now become your strongest. I promise you that this works.
So now Ben’s goals are set for a highly productive year, and hopefully, by following Ben’s examples, yours will be as well. If any of this confuses you, be sure to contact me. Let’s make this our best year ever. We deserve it and it is there for the taking!
Next week, “The Phone Rang…” series will cover “The Classics of Planning & Organization.”
“The Phone Rang…” by Bob Marshall is a series that defines what we, as recruiters, do for a living. This article series ran in The Fordyce Letter over the past year and we are proud to bring you the series online. To subscribe to the print edition of The Fordyce Letter, click here.