Aren’t these 3 key criteria what we’re all looking to achieve and to be provided by our business’s leadership team?

They are certainly worth consideration and action from managers and business owners.

Complexity – are your people achieving their potential within their role and how do they feel they’re being challenged and developed? This includes a transparent, agreed and structured L&D program.

Autonomy – is about finding the right management balance in direction, review and support; whether remotely or face-to-face.

Reward – how well structured recognition is as part of rewards and how best they can be structured for short and long-term results and retention.

Below are some recommendations for business owners and managers on how to better retain your talent through delivering within these 3 key criteria.

Every business owner (and particularly in the highly competitive Recruitment sector) knows the importance of attracting and retaining Talent and therefore how essential it is to have the structures and processes in place within your business that support and promote this.

Malcolm Gladwell confirmed in his bestseller ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’, “Those three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether our work fulfills us.”

Let’s explore some of these key requirements and how best they can be introduced and developed within your business to better retain your talent through delivering within these 3 key criteria.


The place to start is with some basic questions which include:

– Are you stretching your talent enough and therefore maximising their potential of adding value in the business?

– Do you feel each of your people are achieving their potential within their role?

– Do your people each feel that they are on a structured path within your business for them to achieve their potential?

– How do they feel they’re being challenged and developed?

– How much input do they have and how interactive is their engagement in the direction and content of how they’re being developed and to what timescale?

If you ask your people or even yourself these questions, you’ll have a clearer picture of the direction and some key milestones of where and how to introduce or amend your L&D Program.

With brief and targeted 6-month review meetings in place that cover these key questions, you can engage with each of your people and agree what you’ll provide and what they’ll consequently deliver to a timescale.

In this way, you’ll be better placed to deliver a transparent, mutually agreed and structured L&D program that delivers to each individual with mutually agreed objectives and rewards.


This criterion is about finding the right management balance in direction, review and support; whether remotely or face-to-face.

We all agree that Micro-management doesn’t work, short or long-term, so the key to ‘managing’ people’s performance should be based not upon Activity KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) but on results-based Milestones that are the small successes that build a workflow or a delivery / revenue pipeline. For recruiters these will include arrangement of client meetings / pitches, assignments secured, CV’s shortlisted, Interviews arranged etc. These are key elements of building a revenue pipeline.

The first step for you as a business owner or manager is to identify what these ‘result-based’ Milestones are for your business. Then agree these ‘Milestones’ with those responsible for delivering them in the volumes specific to that individual with the rewards associated with their success; both financially and with appropriate recognition where relevant (where they’re working towards promotion for example). See further below for more details.

Quarterly Plans provide agreed autonomy with weekly reviews providing the structure for targeted reviews whilst agreeing appropriate support levels specific to each person at that time (i.e., Situational Leadership).


Particularly within a recruitment business as with any sales focussed team, getting the reward structures right, is as critical as it is complex and varied.

Basically, reward should be commensurate with the delivery of agreed results and in-line with or above market expectations.

Reward is of course not just ‘financial’ but should also include Recognition.

The recognised and established range of financial remuneration for UK based experienced contingent recruitment consultants is the range of c25% to c33% of annual NFI through a mix of base salary, monthly commission, quarterly and annual bonuses. For Principal Consultants these will be higher based upon above average NFI levels and retained client business.

Ultimately, each business will financially reward their revenue generators at the level agreed to incentivise and importantly to retain them. Whilst specific to each business there are fundamentals that include the need to be transparent, consistent and targeted.

Incentives of course, must cover both recognition and reward. Monthly, quarterly and annual recognition by way of awards, prizes and career development are as equal motivators (sometimes more so) compared to financials alone and become even more effective when combined.

What’s the feedback from your Talent on how well your Reward Structures measure up, in incentivising and retaining them? These are questions you want to ask BEFORE the Exit Interview.

I hope the details and recommendations here help you develop and grow your business as they have mine and those of my clients.

For further useful tips, please contact us at Greg McManus Associates or connect with me on LinkedIn.

How focussed are you on delivering these key elements to your Talent?

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