Guest blog from Sarah Goodrich, Director of g ops Consult Ltd.
It’s often the case that when you have roles in your SME recruitment firm which are not evaluated on the traditional KPI’s (interview ratios, 1st interview stats and lead generating and ultimately sales) or on finance’s accuracy that the only way to determine results is by using personal judgment and intuition on whether it’s delivering. You may feel, as the owner or senior team, that any function that is under the operations banner is ‘doing well’ according to how responsive it is and whether you get that task done (in your own opinion) in a good time.
In a firm which is numbers orientated, what do the numbers look like for measuring ops? Much of a successful operations model in SME recruitment firms and those in high growth mode will depend on responsiveness but in that growth, shouldn’t the function be delivering proactively and creating a system of accountability within to show upwards the value add of all the personnel?
So, what if you’re keen to create a team that proactively seeks to deliver solutions up to you instead of you driving the agenda? What if you’d like to see them coming to the table with solutions, thoughts and ideas on how it can actively promote faster sales?
You’re busy growing and creating a pipeline for your business, you are at the same time discovering you would rather know your ops is in good, knowledgeable hands and trust that it will be actively managing what’s around the corner - rather than just the here and now. And you want all of this without your constant pushing or check-ins.
In my previous piece, I referred to seeing the role of ops in SME recruitment firms as often little more than a list of to do’s and how that can have a negative impact on creating accountability and ownership of the function and a role which simply responds and drifts.
How I see ops roles and how I advise on creating metrics and accountability starts with understanding how you want the function to add value and if you are not entirely sure, I can help with that – but I can most importantly, and here’s the difference, actually give you tools and documentation which will re-purpose your operations and give them skillsets, mechanisms and the 'why' to be a truly integral part of your business. In turn, you get a fully-fledged measured and transparent function which you can manage effectively and is empowered to help you drive non-sales rather than just fire-fighting or your compliance and BAU issues. We started with rethinking the job spec – now we’ll look at how you communicate and how often and how that’s structured.
An example of a common problem I see is ops teams having catch-ups with the business owner or senior team.
‘Catch up’s’, whilst important, without structure and an agenda, or top down business objective aligning, can drift and become saturated with just what’s happening and any crisis which the firm might be tackling or fire-fighting and just conversational. There is, of course, a time and a place for building a good rapport and trust in catch ups which can be a shoot the breeze conversation, but these happen from a place of built trust and successful interactions already which address clear business objectives and are your AOB ultimately. There are many communication models that work – the easiest is by far an alert and priority-driven model, but it works for more reasons than you immediately think.
What’s important to the seniors and what’s important to the ops practitioner will be perhaps wildly different – this model from day 1 can really showcase the depth and breadth of that viewpoint from each party and it’s key to setting the tone to get actual outcomes. It also serves to keep meetings relevant and succinct.
It can highlight where you need more resources, or where you need to adjust your expectations and whilst these all can seem a little obvious, it truly is the very beginning of having a successful relationship with your ops and infrastructure teams. It allows a dialogue to be resource and process-driven and for the function to be reporting up with problem solving, not the individual having to wear a load of ‘what’s not working now’ or feeling accosted that at the catch up, all that’s discussed is the vending machine isn’t full when he/ she is down two members of staff that week and contractor payroll is, of course, the main priority and business-critical and the sole effort….obviously!
Fintech and Tech houses and teams will call them sprints; you could simply use the traffic light method, but all the while define what the headings are in your business when you set it all up at the beginning when you hire your ops people and agree it’s how you all want to be managed and communicated with. These are the beginnings of a metric in your operations and promoting accountability and proactivity.
The reality is that this doesn’t often happen and ops and seniors meet and just talk about what’s going wrong and how it needs fixing and there are no solutions-driven conversations or concentration on what’s happening that successful in the function and a step toward achieving the bigger goals. The meets become passive-aggressive or they become endless lists of to do’s. Communications need to be focused and any firefighting should be an AOB. Focused, structured ‘are we achieving and working toward what we said we would in ops objectives?’ is how these meet ups can be meaningful, impactful and accountability is visible and transparent.
This simple tool if done right can impact trust, build trust and it celebrates wins for ops in the same you celebrate placements in sales - and from this your team are empowered to venture forward ideas and feedback to you which means the team is working, adding value and importantly, is motivated and willing to work hard for you.