The Damaging Problem of Chasing Satisfaction as a Performance Metric

I was recently asked to dig into talent acquisition metrics, determining which metrics drive success, which are window dressing, which are just CYA, etc. Two metrics kept coming up from TA leaders are being very important, candidate satisfaction (candidate experience) and hiring manager satisfaction.

I don’t disagree that both of these metrics are important to an effective talent acquisition strategy. You want candidates to be satisfied with the experience they have going through your recruitment process, and you want your hiring managers to be satisfied with the quality of recruitment they get from your team.

The problem happens when you don’t know the point when positive satisfaction turns into negative satisfaction.

A good example is in healthcare. Currently, in the healthcare world, patient satisfaction is a huge deal. Many hospitals are losing their minds to try and figure out how to continue to raise patient satisfaction. You can see the logic. Healthcare is an extremely competitive environment. If a patient isn’t satisfied with their care, they can easily decide to spend those dollars at another healthcare facility. Probably sounds a lot like most of our businesses, doesn’t it? (customer satisfaction, client satisfaction, etc.)

The problem is, nurses and doctors aren’t employed to keep patients satisfied. They’re employed to get patients healthy and save their life. In that process, many times, a patient’s satisfaction is meaningless. The doctor and the nurse are the experts, and before I care about your satisfaction, I care about your wellbeing.

But, as healthcare organizations continue to be run more and more like a business, doctors, and nurses and constantly pressured to put patient satisfaction above wellbeing. As long as Mary loves us, just give her what she wants, even if that isn’t the best treatment.

Now, take this back to candidate satisfaction and hiring manager satisfaction. There’s a tipping point. It’s important that you have a consistent candidate experience that is fair. This will be satisfactory for many candidates, but for some it might not be. As you continue to push resources into increasing satisfaction of those who aren’t, you begin to see a negative return on resources. 100% satisfaction, should never be your goal.

Hiring managers aren’t much different. Most of your hiring managers will be great people to work with and you’ll prove to be a great resource for them in filling their openings. They’ll be satisfied with the job you do. Some will never be satisfied, and many times those who are unsatisfied are usually causing their own dissatisfaction. Again, 100% satisfaction, should never be your goal. Because if it’s obtainable, it’s probably not valuable in this circumstance.

My job in talent acquisition is not to make everyone feel satisfied. My job is to increase the talent in the organization. To do this, it might actually mean I make some folks unsatisfied. That’s okay. I’m the expert in talent acquisition. I need to do what is best for the organization. I’m always unsatisfied with our marketing folks, but guess what, they never asked me if I’m satisfied or not.

4 thoughts on “The Damaging Problem of Chasing Satisfaction as a Performance Metric

  1. Definitely a blind focus on hiring manager satisfaction can lead to the wrong behaviours by those actually doing the recruiting. However strong collaboration between recruiter and hiring manager is consistently shown as being a big positive influencer on Hiring Quality. For a recruiter its about building that strong working relationship rather than getting the hiring manager to like you. This means agreeing expectations upfront and monitoring them during the process.

  2. Hi, In my opinion, I think, dissatisfaction from the manager’s side rises when the employee leaves half way through the on-boarding process or even worse after the 1st month’s salary is taken.
    I understand from the Talent acquisition side we have targets to fill. TA’s job gets done when the candidate accepts the offer and joins on the date of joining.
    The rest is the responsibility of the HR generalist.
    But seldom this happens. The onus falls on the recruiter. The recruitment process starts again.
    I enjoyed reading through your article. Nice post. Thank you. Cheers, Ramkumar

  3. Good Article. This happens in healthcare all the time – give them a pill so they will go away and be satisfied (even though they’re not really supposed to, this is supposedly now commonplace). It is a good reminder to us all (even marketers!) to focus on actual metrics and not perceived metrics of satisfaction etc.

  4. Tim
    Can you please help me get your blog restarted so that it is delivered to my e-mail address. For some reason, it stopped and I stopped receiving it and when I try to add it back your website will not allow it since I am already registered as a subscriber.

    This is a good problem to have – a loyal reader who wants to continue receiving your content.

    I hope you can help me on this.

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