Guest Jason Roberts, Senior Account Manager of Oracle, talks to us about comics, nerd culture, and what bringing value to your organization is all about.

What does it mean to be a vital resource to your company? It’s more than just the work you put in. Your value to the place you work at is a combination of a multitude of factors, but how does that get measured? It’s got to be more than just your proficiency and productivity.

How do you measure value? Some people believe that unequal pay is unethical, but what about for those who excel in their roles? Is it really that wrong if the specialist gets paid more than their manager? If someone is valuable to your organization, we think that mean they should at the very least be paid more.

Jason Roberts on Bringing Value to Your Organization

“What are the data based triggers to decide if a recruiter needs a sourcer? How do you align sourcers in the most effective possible way to recruiters to make sure that you have coverage..but you’re not being wasteful? If there’s a sourcer and they’re working on jobs that normally get plenty of inbound traffic and attract enough candidates, they’re really wasting their time.”

“Basically some people create a lot more value for the company, therefore they get paid a lot more.”

If you want to listen to more of our Sourcing School podcast, check out our page here.

This HR Tech 2022 series is sponsored and made possible by our friends at Gem

Jason Roberts
Senior Account Manager Oracle

90% of the World's Data was created in the last 2 years: I help my customers manage, analyze, visualize & secure its data so it can inform decisions and drive positive outcomes for my clients' customers, employees, shareholders & communities.

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Announcer (00:02):

School is in session. This is Recruiting Daily Sourcing School podcast. We’re recording from HR Tech in Vegas. Thanks to our friends and partners at Gem. Sharpen your pencils and get your sourcing pants on because we have the scoop on sourcing news, recruiting tech, and all the hot topics that you need to learn about. Here’s your professor, Ryan Leery with special guests, Shally Steckerl and Mike “Batman” Cohen.

Shally Steckerl (00:29):

I feel so special in many ways. We’re back at sourcing school and our guest is the inimitable, Jason Roberts.

Jason Roberts (00:44):

Hello. Hello.

Shally Steckerl (00:45):

That’s Jason right there. Jason and I go way back, I think before the turn of the millennium.

Jason Roberts (00:53):

I think that’s actually true.

That is actually true.

Shally Steckerl (00:56):

There were no zeros in the year that we met.

Jason Roberts (01:00):

No, and for all of you that think.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (01:05):

I was in middle school.

Shally Steckerl (01:06):

Yes, that’s right. And that was already sourcing.

Jason Roberts (01:11):

Yeah, he was already sourcing. In fact, Shally at one time was my sourcer when I was recruiting at Cisco Systems.

Shally Steckerl (01:16):

Yeah, that’s actually how we met.

Jason Roberts (01:18):

That is how we met.

Shally Steckerl (01:18):

You were my client. You were one of my better clients, the responsiveness and the engagement.

Jason Roberts (01:26):

Remember when there were 200 sourcers and then at Cisco they ended up with the four of us. You were still there.

Shally Steckerl (01:32):

Yep, I was the only one.

Jason Roberts (01:34):

You’re the only sourcer and there was me and two other recruiters. That was it.

Shally Steckerl (01:37):

Yep. That was it.

Jason Roberts (01:38):

We’re the only ones that made it.

Shally Steckerl (01:40):

Yep. You want to hear something funny? I don’t know if you even knew this, but at the time, because of the cutbacks, this was when the whole China fiasco went down. At the time the only way that they would keep me would be if I went full-time, because they couldn’t keep me as a contractor. In order to get me to go full-time, they had to have the offer letter signed by Chambers.

Jason Roberts (02:00):

No way.

Shally Steckerl (02:01):

Yeah. So.

Jason Roberts (02:01):

John Chambers signed your.

Shally Steckerl (02:02):

Yeah, I have a John Chambers signed offer letter.

Jason Roberts (02:05):

That’s pretty awesome.

Shally Steckerl (02:05):

Which is bizarre because it was massive layoffs, so hiring somebody was completely against the stream. So yeah, that was a long time ago.

Jason Roberts (02:13):

This is how smart they were when they made their cuts. They picked the people they wanted to pick for whatever strategic reasons they picked, whatever, I don’t care. But they chose contractors or full-timers. Right now, typically the knee-jerk reaction is, All right, cut the contractors and then we’ll start thinking about full-timers. No, they looked at it completely holistically. I thought that was pretty wise.

Shally Steckerl (02:37):

Yeah, it is wise. And you know what, That makes me think of something else. All this talk about the economy now being stable and all that other stuff, which is a load of you know what. It just hit me that for years, companies have had policies of, let’s just say calling out or removing the bottom whatever percent from performance reviews, right. So if a company normally cuts, let’s say 10% of their talent every year because they’re failing performance reviews. That’s not announced as a layoff. But right now in this market, if a company fires two people, it’s announced as a layoff. Even if, it’s 0.1% of the company.

Jason Roberts (03:24):

Well they do that on purpose. They go out, well I believe this, nobody’s ever told me this. But I was thinking through this because we just had a competitor announced a layoff and I was like, Why are you doing that?

You’re painting yourself as a target. Then I was like, exactly. They want to make it because they have to make, But if they can get more people recruited out and they’re trying to save cost, that actually ends up in.

Shally Steckerl (03:52):

They’re announcing it.

By announcing it. They are creating instability in their workforce I think. So that they can ultimately reduce more people by having other people start coming and pulling them out.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (04:04):

This is a Lex Luther approach to this, which is.

Jason Roberts (04:06):

No, I think he’s.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (04:07):

I need to cut 10% this year, so I’m going to announce a 5% layoff and assume that natural attrition will occur for the other 5%.

Shally Steckerl (04:17):

But the thing is that they’ve been cutting 10% every year for years. So that’s, not new. It’s just normally not labeled as a layoff.

Jason Roberts (04:25):

I don’t know that people are doing that anymore. That’s been a.

Shally Steckerl (04:28):

Maybe not 10%.

Jason Roberts (04:28):

That’s been out of vogue for a long time. The old GE model that was in place, I think that we all looked at that and thought, Nah, that probably isn’t a great thing. And that sort of fell out of vogue a number of years ago along with performance reviews when a large majority of companies are moving away from performance review altogether.

Shally Steckerl (04:50):

From year end or whatever.

Jason Roberts (04:52):

That’s right. You can’t cut the bottom 10% if nobody gets a review. So I think all of that is being poo pooed these days.

Shally Steckerl (05:00):

Yeah, I’m sure it’s good. It’s probably along with a lot of other changes that are happening right now. But, that’s a lot of change.

Jason Roberts (05:08):

It’s a healthy, healthy thing.

Shally Steckerl (05:10):

Change is inevitable except from vending machines.

Jason Roberts (05:13):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (05:13):

And taxes. Always going to pay taxes. I’m like, Gosh, I hope not. Okay, so we had 17 topics.

We were going to talk about nine of them were comic books, so we’re not going to do those.

Jason Roberts (05:30):

This is the world’s finest podcast, Batman.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (05:32):

This sure is. So Jason, if you were to share a random fun fact about you that was related to comic books in any way, what would that fun fact be?

Jason Roberts (05:44):

Oh, I think this is a leading question.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (05:46):

It was.

Jason Roberts (05:47):

I own a comic bookstore.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (05:50):


Jason Roberts (05:50):

It’s a total side hustle. I have a team that’s really smart and they take care of it for me. And in fact, John was just messaging me earlier today about somebody wants to sell me their Hulk #181, which is the first appearance of Wolverine. So I kind of want it. We will see. It’s got Stan Lee’s signature on it. I kind of want this thing. And it’s CGC graded with the signature sort of thumbs up on it. So it’s a legit sig.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (06:23):

That’s legit.

Jason Roberts (06:24):

It’s the whole thing. So I kind of want it.

Shally Steckerl (06:26):

The problem is if you own the store, you can’t just hold onto that. You’re going to need to sell it.

Jason Roberts (06:31):

No, actually it’s a customer of ours and I told them the store couldn’t buy it because it’s a pretty expensive book. But I would want to buy it personally. So.

Shally Steckerl (06:39):

That’s why you own a comic book store.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (06:40):

That was my question. I was like, does the comic book store want this comic or does the Jason want this comic?

Shally Steckerl (06:45):

It’s front for laundering comic books.

Jason Roberts (06:48):

Every once in a while this happens. No, I accidentally got a comic store. I accidentally bought a comic book store. So what happens is this.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (06:56):

This one’s awesome.

Jason Roberts (06:57):

It’s a good story. So my comic bookstore, the guy that I would go and buy stuff from, he was getting evicted and I was like, Well man, I got a little cash, I can get a set up in another spot. So I’ll bring the money so that we can operate. You bring whatever inventory we have and we’ll stand up the stores like a comic book store in a box. And I was going to go, we were going to be 50-50 partners. He would still run it, but I would take care of the finances because clearly he was being evicted. He didn’t know what he was doing on that front. This was the July before COVID. And during COVID that guy bailed. He was toast. He got out there, took half the store with him, the store was ransacked, emptied. And I show up to a staff meeting.

I’d never met with the staff cause I was sort of behind the scenes. I never really did anything. And I was like, Okay guys, so I can’t do this myself. I really need you guys to do this. So we’re going to go from an autocratic thing to a total team thing. Everybody in here is good at something. You’re good at games, you’re good at comics, you’re good at old stuff like the back issues and stuff. So everybody got a specialty that they were in charge of and we built that thing and doubled the revenue and it takes care of itself. I’m not putting extra money in. It’s doing good.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (08:12):

It’s awesome. I had a good time when I got to come up and visit you, I got to see all the.

Jason Roberts (08:17):

You’re one of our only HR friends, one of my only industry people that has actually come out and seen the comic shop.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (08:24):

It’s my jam.

Jason Roberts (08:27):

Every collection that comes in, I look for your.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (08:30):

June 85.

Jason Roberts (08:31):

June of 85.

Batman comic.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (08:33):

I was just about to tell that story that when I was there. It was super cool. Speaking of friends beyond the professional piece was getting to see those huge boxes you have of all the older comics and Jason letting me go through them to find a Superman and a Batman comic. The ones that were released in June of 1985 when I was born. And I got to take two of those home, which I was really grateful for.

Jason Roberts (08:58):

Yeah, you are absolutely welcome. No, it’s good times.

It’s fun to have a side hustle. I think everybody should get side hustles.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:04):

I’m an indoor cycling instructor.

Jason Roberts (09:06):

I didn’t know this.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:07):

Wait, really?

Jason Roberts (09:08):

I really did not know that.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:09):

Oh yeah. I’ve been teaching indoor cycling for seven and a half years.

Jason Roberts (09:12):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:13):

I mean it kind of fits, right? I listen to electronic music. I’m loud and obnoxious.

He just literally looked up at my purple Mohawk when I said that and just your clarity for everybody in that moment.

Jason Roberts (09:27):

It’s true. What’s funny though. You’ve got your Batman but you’ve got Nightwing’s hairstyle.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:35):

I don’t know how I feel about any of the things you just said. The first one I liked. Oh man.

Jason Roberts (09:41):

I think I’m right.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (09:42):

I’m going bald tomorrow. So obviously this is super educational. So if you’re still listening to this good job, what I’d love to chat through, We had a few different topics. What I’m going to let you pick man, what do you want to start with?

Jason Roberts (09:59):

I want to hear this hot sports opinion you have on sourcing leadership. You’re like, I’ve got strong opinions on this.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (10:07):

I do. I don’t know if they’re right. I don’t even know a scalable nature for them, but it’s super inclusion focused.

Shally Steckerl (10:13):

He does have very, very weird opinions about that.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (10:17):

Yeah, I do.

Shally Steckerl (10:18):

However, it works. I can say this because if it comes from you, people are not as likely to believe it because it sounds like you’re making it up.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (10:27):


Shally Steckerl (10:28):

But I can say looking from the outside that it works even though it’s kind of weird.

But it there’s nothing wrong with it.

It’s just different.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (10:37):

It’s Very different.

Jason Roberts (10:38):

Is it a secret or are you going to reveal what this idea is?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (10:39):

No it’s.

Shally Steckerl (10:42):

It’s not, just want to validate that it actually works.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (10:43):

It’s a few different things man. So for the job description quote unquote. Is me talking about why you wouldn’t want to work for me or Wayne Tech and all of my personal flaws and calling it out there. I’m like, Hey, I’m really disorganized. I’m usually seven minutes late for meetings. I swear a lot and I’m really snarky. If that bothers you, please don’t apply for this job. You’re not going to like it here. And so it’s just starting out boom, that’s where I’m at.

Jason Roberts (11:10):

That should be in the job posting that. That would be hilarious. It’s in the posting.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (11:14):

That is my posting.

Jason Roberts (11:15):

That is hilarious.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (11:16):

That’s my posting. Hey, here’s what we do. Here’s what I’m looking for. Here’s why you don’t want to work here. And that’s it. Take it or leave it. That’s who I am. First interview is with me and it’s a vulnerability interview. So no resume. I literally don’t care. I don’t want to hear about your job history or what you’ve done in the past or you’re sourcing or your recruiting. I don’t care, even a little bit. And I tell people, if you show up in a suit or a fancy outfit, we’re ending the interview cause you’re not a fit for this company. I’ll be in a gym shorts and T-shirt at best. And the interview literal.

Jason Roberts (11:43):

Hold on, hold on, hold on. What’s at worst? Do you go.

Shally Steckerl (11:46):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (11:47):

What? No pants. I mean come on man. This is 2020.

Jason Roberts (11:51):

You’re still on Zoom.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (11:52):

Pants, right? Pants optional.

Shally Steckerl (11:54):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (11:54):

Oh wait, no, no, this isn’t Zoom. No, I’m kidding. It’s definitely Zoom. So it’s a vulnerability interview is the goal. And it’s three parts. So I start out with, Hey, tell me three things about you at least that are going to give me insights to who you are. And in an ideal world, I want you to spend as much time as you want. We have an hour, you take a full hour. Anything about you that’s going to impact the way that we work together and give insight as to who you are as a human. And it gives me the insight as to what’s important to them. If they start with their professional career, that’s where they place their value. If they start back with their university, they place value in their intelligence and the things they succeeded with.

If they start back in their childhood and their family, then they’ve got strong familial values. And it’s good to know for the conversation. Next I say, Hey, you can ask me any three questions in the world. There are no limits. There’s nothing I will not answer. No matter how personal, professional, inappropriate, it does not matter. I’ll answer anything you ask me. And that shows me their curiosity.

Jason Roberts (12:52):

What’s the most inappropriate question you’ve gotten when you do that?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (12:55):

I haven’t gotten any inappropriate once.

Shally Steckerl (12:57):

That’s the thing it’s not.

Jason Roberts (12:59):

It should be inappropriate. It would be better.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (13:01):

Well, so what’s interesting is that the people I hired, one of the things they have in common is they all asked a question that made me pause. So the last person I hired said, What’s the most magical moment you’ve ever had in your life?

Jason Roberts (13:16):

Ooh, that’s good.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (13:19):


And I went, Oh right, okay. So we go through that. And then the last part.

Shally Steckerl (13:22):

The answer was, this one.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (13:24):

Nah, it’s changed as of seven seconds ago. And then the last part is two vulnerability questions that are physically uncomfortable. And I answer them first. So the first question I always start with every single time is, what’s the thing you’ve done in your life that you regret having done the most and what have you done about it since then? And I share a story from when I was a child and I should have stuck up, or a teenager, and I should have stuck up for my sister in a potentially difficult situation she found herself in with one of my friends and I didn’t because I wanted to look cool. And I didn’t want to look like a lame friend. And I put her in a position that could have wound up being something very negative and it didn’t.

And I share that and then I share that it took me 15 years to confront her about that and apologize and walk through that thing. And I get emotional talking about it when I do. And people’s face at this point is always just, Oh, shoot. Right. And so most people I talk to get either physically, visibly uncomfortable or cry. And Crystal’s horrified by this, my wife.

And that’s the first round interview. So random stuff we have pay, a transparency. And I want to hear from you because you, you’ve worked as a large company, right?

Jason Roberts (14:39):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (14:39):

We’re a hundred percent transparent. I put my W2 in our Google Drive at the end of every year. So people know the exact amount of money I made. And our budget is publicly shared in our Google Drive. They know where every dollar of the company went to.

Jason Roberts (14:53):

I think you can do that as a small company.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (14:55):

Why can’t you do it as a large company?

Shally Steckerl (14:57):

Because large companies, I’m sorry, the leadership team does that at large companies. If they’re public officers, they have that. But in middle management doesn’t usually because there’s salary inversions.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (15:10):

I actually don’t know what that means.

Shally Steckerl (15:11):

So arguably the job of a manager is easier to do and easier to find people willing to and capable of doing than the job of a specialist in an area.

So therefore, sometimes specialists that are in very high demand and have a rare skill set may actually make more than the manager to whom they report. So that’s called salary inversion, in other words.

Jason Roberts (15:41):

Yeah, the manager knows.

Shally Steckerl (15:43):

Yeah, I know I said that. But, the manager knows that’s going to happen. But you don’t want to necessarily communicate to other people that may not be aware of that and be transparent in that middle layer where there actually may be some inequities that have happened over time through acquisitions and other things that you may very well be repairing, but you just can’t wave. If you have a 100 000 employees and you want to repair this balance in your internal equity, you can’t just snap a finger and spend a trillion dollars or whatever. SO, they might be working on it, but they just don’t want to make that known.

Jason Roberts (16:28):

Have you read Lazslo Bock’s book, Work Rules?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (16:37):


Jason Roberts (16:38):

Really interesting. He has a whole thing in there about paying unfairly and basically that some people create a lot more value for the company, therefore they get paid a lot more.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (16:51):


Jason Roberts (16:52):

So I think if you.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (16:53):

That’s a fact.

Jason Roberts (16:54):

Have transparency, you have to be super clear on performance.

Shally Steckerl (16:56):

What the value is.

Jason Roberts (16:58):

The performance and the value has to be really obvious to everybody.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (17:01):


Jason Roberts (17:02):

Oh yeah. That guy deserves it.

Shally Steckerl (17:03):


Jason Roberts (17:03):

It’s got to make sense.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (17:04):

So Julia.

Shally Steckerl (17:04):

People are going to be start asking questions.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (17:07):

And rightfully so, I believe. Julia, who works for me is my second hire. She runs all of the front of house recruitment operations period. And we had a conversation and the team knows this. She’s going to make more than me this year. And she felt all weird about that. Oh, we’re going to need to adjust compensation for next year. That’s not sustainable. And I’m like, I love that. I’m paying you more than me. And I love that because your value to the organization is beyond what I could have even anticipated at the beginning of this year.

Jason Roberts (17:36):

Here’s the question though. Is her value to the organization greater than your value to the organization?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (17:41):

Her value to the organization allows me to have my value to the organization. Without her I’m working in the business, not on the business. In which case. So the short answer is by allowing me to have my value in the business, her value is substantially more than just the things she does. It’s the fact that I’m not doing the things that she does.

Which is worth exponentially more to me and to the organization. Cause we can grow now. Cause I’m not sourcing on two roles a week. Right.

Jason Roberts (18:10):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (18:11):

She’s taking care of all of that organizational stuff.

Jason Roberts (18:13):

Let’s not forget the John Chambers model.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (18:16):

I don’t know what that is.

Shally Steckerl (18:18):

$1 a year is all he made.

Jason Roberts (18:20):

Well sort of.

Shally Steckerl (18:22):

That was his salary.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (18:23):

Salary, okay.

Shally Steckerl (18:23):

But there’s so much more to it. So the reason I’m saying that is that it’s okay if some people get paid more. The equity is there to make that difference possible. And it’s your company, so it’s your equity. You may be giving her part of that equity, but you should have more equity than everybody else.

Jason Roberts (18:41):

Well and that’s true. If she’s driving up revenue and receivables. Then the evaluation of your company.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (18:47):

She is.

Jason Roberts (18:47):

Is immediately going up. So the total value of that, that part of your portfolio is increased.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (18:51):


Shally Steckerl (18:51):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (18:52):


Shally Steckerl (18:53):

That’s my point.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (18:54):

And you’re totally right. And to your point, she’s brought in 20% of our revenue this year on top of also running all this stuff and.

Shally Steckerl (19:01):

Retaining the revenue.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (19:03):

Anyway, that’s why I’m like, Julia, I will gladly do that if you continue doing this to the organization.

Jason Roberts (19:08):

Nice. All right.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (19:13):

What do you want to share with people, Jason? Cause I keep talking about the weird stuff we do. What do you want to share.

Jason Roberts (19:19):

Not my own most uncomfortable moment that’s for sure.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (19:22):

No, not the thing you regret having done the most.

Shally Steckerl (19:25):

As a sourcing leader related sourcing leadership.

Jason Roberts (19:28):

The answer is this podcast.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (19:32):

That’s amazing.

Jason Roberts (19:33):

No, so I’m thinking a lot about a couple of different things. I’m trying to think of the best way to measure the effectiveness of a sourcer. I’m thinking about how to decide if a recruiter in a large organization needs a sourcer or not. What are the data based triggers to decide if a recruiter needs a sourcer and how do you align sourcers in the most effective possible way to recruiters to make sure that you have coverage but you’re not being wasteful? Because what happens sometimes is if there’s a sourcer and they’re working on jobs that normally are going to get plenty of inbound traffic and attract enough candidates, they’re really wasting their time. There’s no point in that. So what are the mechanisms that I can use to more effectively identify and trigger sourcing activity because of the need or the type of position or whatever?

How can I mathematically come up with that and start triggering that support over time? So I’m really thinking about large organizational issues at the moment. How do we measure this big team in the most effective way, that’s fair? It’s capturing all their activity, capturing their performance, and really identifying their value that they’re providing to the organization because I actually do believe in paying unfairly. I don’t think the place I work for necessarily does, but I do believe in making sure that the people who are adding the most value to the team are being recognized in extraordinary ways.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (21:21):

I can’t speak to that second part at all. Cause I’ve never worked for a big company. Cause I’m commercially unemployable. The first part around everyone laughs and then no one ever refuses that when I say it. When I say it, Ah, that’s true.

Jason Roberts (21:34):

I would hire you right now if you were available.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (21:37):

But you’d fire me in a year.

Shally Steckerl (21:39):

I tried to hire you wouldn’t work for me.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (21:40):

You did.

Jason Roberts (21:42):

Then it’s a 100% true. Come to me whenever you’re ready. I will.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (21:45):

I love this.

Jason Roberts (21:47):

I would hire you.

Shally Steckerl (21:48):

You don’t have to worry about it because you’ll probably be gone before you have to get fired.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (21:51):

That’s awesome. The metrics thing.

Shally Steckerl (21:56):

I’m totally joking by the way.

Jason Roberts (21:58):

No, I know.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (21:58):

The thing I want to talk about on metric and Shally, you’re actually the person I want to hear from on this topic. First to understand the difference between the KPI and a metric. It’s like a square in a rectangle. One is the other, but they’re not the same thing.

Jason Roberts (22:12):

They are the same thing.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:13):

They are not the same thing. Ready for this? Watch this.

Jason Roberts (22:15):

A KPI is a metric.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:17):

Correct. But a metric isn’t the KPI. They’re very different.

Jason Roberts (22:19):

Well, that’s true.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:20):

Right. Square and a rectangle.

Shally Steckerl (22:22):

You’re both wrong.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:23):

Right. So ready for this.

Jason Roberts (22:24):

I guess it is square and a rectangle.

Cause a square is a rectangle.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:28):

Right. But not the other way around.

Right. So.

Jason Roberts (22:30):

That’s right.

That’s pretty clever. I like that.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:32):

Thank you.

Shally Steckerl (22:33):

You’re both wrong by the way.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (22:35):

Oh, see that’s why I want to do this. Cause I don’t know, there’s a right answer on this one and I’ve had the argument a ton. But when I think of a KPI, I think of the heart rate monitor in a hospital which has a more direct name that I can’t think of, EKG monitor maybe. And it’s telling you if there is a problem or not, in a specific area. But if it starts speeding up real bad or does the worst one, the plateau one, it doesn’t tell you what’s wrong with you. It just tells you, Uh oh problem, we need to fix some stuff. The metric would be running the blood work and saying, Oh you have a really high blah blah blah count or low blah blah blah count. And so what I share is track both, you’re a leader, you need to know both all the way through. Don’t hold your people to KPIs. Cause they’re irrelevant. If you’re like, Oh, you need to send X number of messages a week. You need to do X number of phone screens a week. Those are irrelevant numbers.

Shally Steckerl (23:34):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (23:35):

Right. And I think of a friend that we have who will remain nameless, who lives closer to you, is my best friend in the world and I think his name. And he worked at a company.

Jason Roberts (23:45):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (23:45):

The one, and he worked at a company and was responsible for really senior level management hires at this very large tech company. And he was responsible for four a quarter and he was hitting four every quarter, which is actually pretty impressive. And his third quarter in, they actually put him on a PIP because he was only sending 75 messages a week.

And so they’re like, well we require 200. And it was like, whoa, wait a second, wait a second. His turn rates, he’s getting 70% response rates on his messaging, but he is on a PIP because he’s not hitting this random arbitrary number versus the metric, which I think speaks to efficacy. So I hold my folks to efficacy of what they’re doing. I watch the percentages between the sourcing things. So how many revolutions did you have to run to get the right number of candidates, right? So we delivered 200. So how many did you have to run at 20 searches? In which case, dude, we need to look at your sourcing. What are you doing? How many candidates did you deliver to the client that they went, Oh, I don’t love that. That’s efficacy.

Jason Roberts (24:57):

Okay. I think that’s one that makes sense. I think the first one doesn’t.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:02):


Jason Roberts (25:03):

Well, so what are you paying them for? Are you paying by the hour?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:08):


Jason Roberts (25:09):

It doesn’t matter. If you’re not paying them by the hour, you should lay out, here’s the output I expect from you. And if it takes them four times as long.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:19):

Do you care about your employees getting better at their job and improving?

Jason Roberts (25:23):

I do, but I can have a conversation about that. But that’s not a performance based thing.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:26):

That’s all I care about because we’re a deliverables based company.

Shally Steckerl (25:30):

If you care about that, then you don’t pay them by the hour and you don’t pay them a salary.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:35):

So I do salary and commission.

Shally Steckerl (25:36):

You don’t do either of those.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:37):


Shally Steckerl (25:38):

You actually would pay for the product. So if you have an apple farm and you need your apples picked, they need to be picked at a very specific time.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (25:47):


Shally Steckerl (25:47):

Or they get bad and they fall and they’re no longer marketable.

If you paid the apple pickers a salary or an hourly rate, you are going to lose your crop because they’re not going to pick all the apples in time. But if you pay them by the bushel.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (26:05):

So I do both.

Shally Steckerl (26:06):

They’ll get picked in time. Anyways, that I’m just adding to the context.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (26:10):

So I think I do both of what you’re saying, which is to pay a salary. And then when they hit a point where they can do one sprint a week, I turn on commission and they get 5% of everything that they deliver as a sourcer and everything they deliver as an account manager and overnight get a [inaudible 00:26:26].

Shally Steckerl (26:26):

It’s similar. I’m just being.

It’s simplified because of the apple picking example.

Obviously we’re not talking about apples. So you can very clearly measure a bushel of apples.

So what you’re talking about is a little bit less measurable.

Right. But anyways.

Jason Roberts (26:46):

I have a question here.

Shally Steckerl (26:46):

You guys are both wrong about something though. And I want to make this very, very, very clear.

Jason Roberts (26:51):

Well, tell us what we’re wrong about.

Shally Steckerl (26:52):

A lot of people get this wrong. They use the word metric or metrics. When what they actually mean and should be saying is measurement. All of these things you’re talking about are measures, not metrics.

Jason Roberts (27:08):

How do you figure?

Shally Steckerl (27:10):

It’s not a figure, it’s a fact.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (27:11):

So what is a metric?

Shally Steckerl (27:12):

Exactly. What is a metric is not what you guys are using. You’re using measurements, right? On a speedometer. If you’re driving and you’re going 55, is that a metric or a measurement of speed?

Jason Roberts (27:29):

A measurement.

Shally Steckerl (27:30):

A measurement of speed.

Jason Roberts (27:31):


Shally Steckerl (27:32):

A metric necessitates. It is a requirement of a metric to be a metric that there be a projection or an analysis. Therefore, there has to be two data points.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (27:42):

It has to be a turn rate, it has to be a percentage sign after it for me.

Shally Steckerl (27:45):

But there’s got to be two.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (27:47):

Right? Number of.

Shally Steckerl (27:48):

Percentage sign is one metric.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (27:53):

No, but it’s derived from.

[inaudible 00:27:55].

Messaged sent versus responses, searches run versus.

Shally Steckerl (27:57):

In a projectable outcome.

Jason Roberts (27:59):

No, but here’s what I’ll say, typically when people lay out metrics that don’t have a comparison, two comparative numbers, because the thing they’re comparing against is time. And they’re taking a look at it.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (28:14):

I don’t love that.

Shally Steckerl (28:14):

If I.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (28:14):

I’m with Shally on this one.

Jason Roberts (28:14):

You’re taking a look at it and saying, Are you doing more than you did last week? Are you doing more than you?

Shally Steckerl (28:21):

That still doesn’t mean anything.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (28:23):

Yeah, but it’s also still comparing two numbers.

Jason Roberts (28:26):

Yeah, it means something.

Shally Steckerl (28:27):

It still doesn’t mean anything.

Jason Roberts (28:28):

You’re looking for looking an increase, you’re looking for the right slope.

Shally Steckerl (28:31):

But what increase? And compared to what?

Jason Roberts (28:36):

Number of hires, or whatever. I don’t know.

Shally Steckerl (28:37):

Compared to what?

Jason Roberts (28:38):

Compared to the week before.

Shally Steckerl (28:40):

Which was what? The standard? How do you know?

Jason Roberts (28:43):

It’s the baseline.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (28:44):

So I think.

Shally Steckerl (28:46):

Again, if.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (28:46):

If you have a moving baseline every week.

I would want a trending curve moving up, in general.

Shally Steckerl (28:49):

A trend.

Jason Roberts (28:49):

That’s what trending is all about.

Shally Steckerl (28:50):

A trend is a metric.

Jason Roberts (28:51):

I swear to God, that’s right.

Shally Steckerl (28:53):

A trend is a metric. A lot of people say, I’ll use your KPIs thing with the send outs or whatever that was. That was the emails or context.

Jason Roberts (29:02):

I’m not sure this is a valuable conversation.

Shally Steckerl (29:05):

The 200. Right.

Jason Roberts (29:06):

No. Knowing what a metric is or a measure. I’m not sure that it’s going to move the needle though, right?

Shally Steckerl (29:09):

It will a lot. It does.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (29:10):

Oh yeah. So Jason, the amount of people I talk to who are like, Oh no, I hold my people to this and this and this. I’m like, what are you doing?

Jason Roberts (29:18):

Well no, I get that.

Shally Steckerl (29:21):

Before we jump off the ledge here, I want to give you an example of jumping off the ledge. If I were to stand on top of a table and I jump up into the air and someone takes a picture of me at the apex of that jump, it can very easily be interpreted that I’m flying. However, I guarantee you I am not flying. But according to that measurement in time. I’m flying, I may even be flying for a little bit longer. And then at some point I’m going to stop flying.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (29:51):

Falling with style.

Shally Steckerl (29:52):

The outcome.

Jason Roberts (29:53):

That’s what going downstairs is by the way.

Shally Steckerl (29:56):

Exactly. The outcome. In fact, you can even argue walking is a series of controlled falls. Right? But the outcome.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (30:03):

My brain is blown.

Shally Steckerl (30:05):

Is, I’m on the ground with a broken leg or something. Right?

So basically what I’m trying to tell you is the difference between metrics and measurements and KPIs is that one is looking at a piece of data and the other one is looking at the outcome. And when you measure outcomes, you get what you pay for. When you measure the activity that goes into the outcomes, you get the activity.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (30:30):

Ready. I’m going to dumb this down.

Shally Steckerl (30:31):

No, the outcome.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (30:32):

From my brain. Ready?

Measurement, one data point.

Shally Steckerl (30:37):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (30:37):

Metric, two data points in comparison. KPI, all the data points together.

Shally Steckerl (30:42):


Mike “Batman” Cohen (30:44):

That’s it guys. I’m done. I’m never going to say anything more profound than that. So I’m going to call that here. All right, Jason, we’ve, we’ve been talking for seven minutes. We end the podcast the same way every time. And first off, by the way guys, I love that we’re able to have a discourse and a conversation about things that we fundamentally may disagree on and still have that conversation.

Shally Steckerl (31:07):

I think what’s funny is that we all agree, I think you agree with what I’m saying too, is just a fact of the perception and people get distracted by that perception and then they apply it incorrectly because of that perception. But fundamentally you agree that you should measure the outcome and the metric that you use is the whatever KPI data points, it’s still the same thing.

Jason Roberts (31:30):

Well, so I still haven’t come up with. We talked about the nature of KPIs and metrics, but not the actual metrics that are important.

Shally Steckerl (31:41):

Measurements. The actual measurements. For example, in Batman’s experience.

Jason Roberts (31:44):

No, because I want to trend everything. So it would always be a metric. I’d never show.

Shally Steckerl (31:48):

Good for you.

Jason Roberts (31:48):

A single number.

Shally Steckerl (31:50):

Good for you. A lot of people just say you have to do a 100 send outs this week.

Jason Roberts (31:54):


Shally Steckerl (31:55):

And that’s their metric.

Jason Roberts (31:56):

Okay. That’s a measurement.

Shally Steckerl (31:57):

Yeah, exactly.

Jason Roberts (31:58):

Actually no, that’s a target. Which is, the comparison line that you keep on your trend line.

Shally Steckerl (32:05):

And that’s what.

Jason Roberts (32:05):

To say are they above or below? That’s not.

Shally Steckerl (32:07):

But that’s what Batman is saying is no good. And I think you agree that saying you have to send out a 100 emails doesn’t really guarantee a success.

Jason Roberts (32:16):

Oh well see my, I draw a different distinction. I draw a distinction between activity and outcome.

Shally Steckerl (32:23):

That’s my point exactly.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (32:25):

So we have to wrap it up because Ryan’s giving me the hook. Jason, I’m going to give you something just to ponder that we could also just talk about offline as well, which is to say, I don’t know that having a standard metric KPI measurement is the right choice because people are all different. I think if you are looking for that, look for what you’re looking for in the growth trajectory for each person. Because some person may have a lower X, Y, Z, whatever it is you pick.

But as long as they’re increasing over time, whatever that is, lowering the turn rate or increasing their productivity. I don’t know that initial number matters as much.

Jason Roberts (33:02):

I think.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:03):

As long as you’re tracking the increase, which.

Jason Roberts (33:04):

I think it depends on team size.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:06):

I was just about to say that.

Jason Roberts (33:06):

If you, got team of five.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:07):

Which should, be fine. If you have a few hundred people on your team, it’ll be great.

That’s all you do all day every day.

Jason Roberts (33:12):

That’s right. If you got a team of 200, you got to have some standards. If you got a team of five, do what you want.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:16):

Yeah, I love that. Okay. One thing you want to leave the listeners with, it doesn’t have to be about what we talked about today. Just something to hit him in the heart, the head, the soul.

Shally Steckerl (33:23):

And it doesn’t have to be a standard.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:25):

And it doesn’t have to be a standard, but does have to be a metric.

Jason Roberts (33:27):

No kidding.

Shally Steckerl (33:28):

That we can measure.

Jason Roberts (33:29):

This is a really hard thing to be put on the spot about.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:31):

I know, I did it on purpose.

Jason Roberts (33:32):

Is it all right to say this?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:33):


Shally Steckerl (33:33):

But it doesn’t have to be about what we are talking. I mean, what’s important to you to get out?

Mike “Batman” Cohen (33:35):

It can be about life, love, mental, emotional. Just something that you want somebody to feel or ruminate with when they leave this talk.

Jason Roberts (33:42):

You’re wanting me to be super introspective.

Shally Steckerl (33:48):

Go deep.

Jason Roberts (33:49):

Go deep. I feel like I don’t have a super deep thing to say. Here’s what I’ve been thinking a lot about. I actually don’t have a lot of things to say. I have a lot of questions and that might be my nature. Maybe that’s what the thing is, always be asking.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:05):

Always be asking.

Jason Roberts (34:06):


Shally Steckerl (34:06):

Wow. That’s deep.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:07):

I actually.

Shally Steckerl (34:08):

You went deep.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:10):

I was in not going deep. You went deep.

Shally Steckerl (34:11):

Exactly. You did what.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:13):

Always be asking, ABA with Jason Roberts.

Shally Steckerl (34:17):

Instead of always be closing, it’s always be asking.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:19):

That’s right. Thank you. You deserve coffee. Coffee is for askers.

Jason Roberts (34:24):

Oh, there we go.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:25):

Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us Jason. It’s cool to do a podcast with you.

Jason Roberts (34:28):

It’s fun.

Mike “Batman” Cohen (34:29):

And we’ll be back shortly on the Sourcing School podcast.

Speaker 5 (34:32):

Oh man, that means it’s over.

Speaker 6 (34:39):

You’ve been listening to the Sourcing School podcast. Live at HR Tech in Vegas, sponsored by our friends at Gem. For all other HR, recruiting and sourcing news check out

Sourcing School Podcast

Michael Cohen

Mike “Batman” Cohen is the Founder of Wayne Technologies, a Sourcing-on-Demand and Recruitment Training Organization. Wayne Technologies On-Demand Sourcing is a revolutionary approach that provides the most actionable data available, is based on deliverables – not time, and is based on access to more recruitment tooling than any organization worldwide.

Shally Steckerl

One of the pioneers of the sourcing discipline, Shally is the Founder and former President of The Sourcing Institute, where he has helped numerous F500 and mid-market organizations train and develop their talent sourcing capabilities for nearly 20 years. When it comes to innovative approaches to candidate search, Shally literally wrote the book. He is the author of the industry-standard textbook “The Talent Sourcing and Recruitment Handbook” as well as “The Sourcing Method: Tactics to Find Unfindable Talent.”

Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.


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