Overcoming the performance killers for VMS recruiting teams

Apathy, boredom and anxiety frequently infect recruiting teams that service VMS accounts.  Staffing companies struggle with these performance killers – typically by treating the symptoms. I believe that the only long-term solution is to build a recruiting organization that puts each recruiter on the Way to Mastery. This is not the MSP/VMS' responsibility; it's the staffing supplier.

Here’s what I’ve seen too often:

You have an IT staffing company built to service VMS accounts. You’ve hired teams of junior recruiters, often fresh out of college, probably in a region where labor costs are low. Your recruiting processes are designed to deliver candidates fast and cheap. You may have broken the recruiting process into chunks to gain still greater efficiencies – data entry, sourcing, qualifying, contractor support. Your recruiters are trained to execute these processes. You tie compensation and rewards to clearly articulated activity levels. You even pay a premium to attract the best in class talent. You are doing everything the industry experts recommend but still apathy, boredom and anxiety infect your recruiting team. You struggle to meet program SLA’s, retain your top performers and turn a profit. It is hard to sleep well but you are committed to your strategy. What to do?  

For sure, solving these problems is not easy,  but when you do the opportunity is extraordinary. By design, VMS accounts offer greater opportunity to fewer suppliers. In exchange, the VMS raises the bar of supplier performance – quality candidates, low rates, quick turnaround, coverage, and compliance.  The barrier to entry is high but success is handsomely rewarded.

 For a VMS recruiter, success and fulfillment are rare but it doesn’t have to be this way.  

Here’s why:  




The optimal state for performance, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s groundbreaking research on happiness, occurs when people use highly developed skills to perform highly challenging activities. He calls this a state of FLOW.  I believe this can be cultivated at various stages on the way to mastery.

However, it is the performance killers that most suppliers deal with. Boredom and anxiety occur when there is a mismatch between skill and challenge.  Apathy is typical for low skilled recruiters servicing VMS accounts. Let’s look at it…

Apathy arises when junior recruiters are asked to perform repetitive, monotonous activities. In the “speed wins” VMS environment, this means basic sourcing and screening. They soon lose interest, enthusiasm, or concern for positive outcomes.  But they stay with you, going through motions, because they lack marketable skills. 

"The greatest danger to our future is apathy."

Jane Goodall 

Boredom is an unforeseen consequence of hiring bright, ambitious graduates from IT colleges. These recruiters have skill and knowledge though they lack recruiting experience. Once they get down the basic VMS recruiting process they become disinterested in the mundane work.  Before long they leave in pursuit of greater challenges.

“Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?”

Friedrich Nietzsche 

Anxiety is when low skilled recruiters are expected to meet ambitious VMS program SLA’s (candidate quality, activity ratios, time to fill, rate, and compliance). To survive, recruiters compromise their integrity and fall to blaming your company, their candidates and/or the VMS.

“Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety”. 

Rose Kennedy

Fortunately, your recruiters can overcome these challenges and you can help them. It is all about getting on the way to mastery and then living accordingly. I know this; I have seen it and I have experienced it.  Every master I know has 7 common elements in his or her life.  Regardless of where they started, or what they mastered, each experienced the state of flow Csikszentmihalyi distinguished. 

It might be a surprise to some that the staffing industry is the perfect environment for recruiters to become masters at what they love to do.

I'll see you on the Way to Mastery!


Stephen GrazianiComment