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The “Blue Arrow” Approach to Setting Recruiting Firm Goals

by | Jul 27, 2015 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

Here’s some advice for those of you with larger operations—translated, that means for those of you who don’t work by yourself.

Mike Crosswell was a colleague of mine and a friend.  I met Mike during the mid-1990s when I was frequently traveling to the UK to train and coach recruiters and recruiter managers.  Mike was the owner of Blue Arrow, the largest privately-owned staffing organization in the UK.

One night over dinner, Mike explained to me how they “goal set” at Blue Arrow.  Mike told me that he had too often seen recruitment firms let their coming year’s goals be set for them by their individual recruiters instead of by upper management.

In other words, the goal commitments were coming solely from the “bottom up” instead of the “top down.”  In business schools, they call this “undercut management.”  Mike wanted to blend the “top down” and “bottom up” approaches to goal setting.

Mike explained that at Blue Arrow, they collaborated with their managers to decide what their total revenue would be for the coming year.  Then, when the individual managers returned to their offices with their assigned revenue goals, they divided and assigned portions to each of their recruiters based upon the recruiters’ past revenue flow histories and future projections.

To allow each recruiter to take ownership of their goal, the manager asked each one, “Can you attain that number?”

If they answered “Yes,” then the goal was set in concrete.  If they answered “No,” or they said that they weren’t sure, this follow-up question was asked: “What can I do, as your manager, to ensure that you hit this number?”

At the end of the process, which is much like cutting up an apple pie, the manager has developed a consensus with their recruiters and knows what the recruiters expect from management to help guarantee the recruiter’s individual numbers.

By using Mike Crosswell’s format, Blue Arrow constantly hit their goals and eliminated year-end surprises.  It’s a simple as that.

How have you been setting your recruiting firm goals?

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Bob Marshall of TBMG International, founder of The Marshall Plan, has an extensive background in the recruiting industry as a recruiter, manager, vice president, president, consultant, and trainer.  In 2015, Marshall is celebrating his 35th year in the recruitment business.  He can be reached at or at 770.898.5550.  Marshall’s website is

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