Maru Inplacement

Are your KPI’s working?

28 March 2017

Story by
Sarah Rice


It stands to reason that most businesses set their employees KPI’s and depend on these for measuring input and output. Whether businesses feel their KPI’s are an efficient way of doing this or just a necessary evil is an entirely other question. Too often KPI’s are reported on as impersonal objectives tasked to an individual without consideration of how useful they are to the role and how much they enhance the individuals’ performance. To avoid empty targets, we suggest the following method to improve the KPI process.

Making business goals personal

At RM, we don’t set ‘formal’ KPI’s. Instead, we set personal objectives following individual reviews which are based on the overall goals of the business. This methodology is based on the belief that all people perform better when their objectives tap into their individual motivations and personality traits. The problem with KPI’s is that whilst it is essential for targets to be met, it relies on everyone being mutually motivated by the system of data-based targets.

Having recently been approached by Recruitment Grapevine, Jon Ball, Managing Director of parent-group RSG, was asked whether he felt KPI’s were a thing of the past. He answered:

“I’ve been in this business for nearly 20 years and in that time we have never incentivised revenue targets. Instead, we encourage positive behaviours. If you incentivise a number you get all sorts of unpleasant conduct in return: undermining, deceit and a complete lack of team work and integration.

“RSG’s growth strategy is about long-term business relationships, not one of chasing placements or fees which strategically don’t complement this.”

Depending on the sector your business operates in, a competitive working environment could be your most successful method of achieving results. What we have found, is that a supportive team-work culture stems from employees feeling that they are appreciated individually for the work that they do and aren’t in competition with each other to faster hit targets.

A traditionally heard complaint is that KPI’s land on the desks of employees having been assigned on the basis of data analysis rather than the individuals’ actual working day. This sees them splitting their time between the tasks which get their jobs done and then a separate set of tasks they complete simply to meet their KPI’s. Through assigning objectives based on review sessions, managers have the opportunity to hear the genuine strains and stresses of a role, the things that are going well and the areas the individual needs to improve on. This results in significant improvement on the individuals’ part because their goals tie in directly with the work they are actually doing.

We find that setting individual objectives reaps far better results than expecting everyone to work to the same KPI’s. Following many years of tailoring our staff training we have found that removing the incentivised numbers game and instead, getting to know how our individuals work best has developed a far more supportive environment in which teams work together rather than competing with one another.

The take away: if your KPI’s aren’t resulting in the outcomes you expected; try meeting with individuals to split the KPI into personal objectives which they find relevant and relatable. Understanding their motivations and strengths could be the key to unlocking the potential you aren’t reaching through the numbers and data.



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