Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Alert Webster...

... "team" is now spelled t-e-I-a-m.

Usually I dislike when a headline is finished in the first body of the post, but it seemed fitting in this case, and it's my blog and I'll do what I want.

Two major changes happened in the recruiting world yesterday. Two changes that, to me, reflect a fundamental change in the way that business will be conducted.

Change one is the announcement of individual mission points. Previously the only way to receive mission box points was to have the station/company/battalion achieve mission. Now, with this change, it's possible for a recruiter to earn mission box points for putting in their, individual, assigned mission. 50 points if you hard box (achieve exactly the categories missioned), 25 if you volume box (simply put in the required amount). For example, if I'm missioned for a GA and a PS, and I enlist a GA and a PS I get 50 points, in addition to any other points for the enlistments. If I just enlist a PS and a SB I'll get 25 points. This, to me, is a big change that takes the focus off the unit and onto the individual.

Now, this change is bound to be accompanied by the usual remarks about how the priority is still on the unit, and that this is just a way to better recognize the difficulties of recruiting. My concern with this though is that if you reward a particular behavior you're going to see more of that behavior. Now that individual performance is rewarded recruiters will perform more as individuals.

Incentive points are all well and good, but the big, big, big is that Recruiter Incentive Pay was announced. Effective, I guess, today recruiters can now earn money for enlistments. This is something that has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The entire message is pretty huge and involved. I'm not going to torture my six readers (Hi Mom!) by republishing it here. In brief the RIP is an additional $100 to $5,000 that can be earned by a recruiter based on their monthly, 3-monthly, and yearly production.

At the lowest level a recruiter can earn $100 for enlisting two people, one of which must be a quality enlistment. Anyone beyond the two will result in an additional $100 each. Every three months, if someone writes two per for those three months they can receive an additional $1,000, on top of their monthly incentives. And if someone writes like 42 contracts in a year they can receive a $5,000 bonus. This is not chump change. Granted, enlisting 42 people should be recognized by something more than a piece of flair and some clapping, but between the various levels of incentive some recruiters will be adding $10,000 or more to their bank accounts.

A cash reward for accomplishing our mission just seems... wrong. I'm not principled enough to say "Take your dirty money" and refuse the incentive pay if I receive it some month, nor will I be donating it to anything other than the SFC B Motorcycle Replacement Fund. If I get the money I'm taking it, having it cashed out into $1 bills, spreading it across the bed, and rolling around on it naked.

My apologies for any emotional trauma caused by people suddenly thinking of my large, pasty white posterior. Mrs. SFC B tells me that eventually you will be able to feel joy again, the horror will pass.

I'm curious what the motivation for this incentive is. Money will only work as an incentive if someone isn't putting in maximum effort, and that is all that will motivate them. Otherwise this is money being spent to accomplish something that was going to be accomplished without the money being spent. I don't know why that doesn't make me feel tingly inside.

Currently, I myself, don't have a problem referring someone interested in the Regular Army to one of the RA recruiters. And for the most part that feeling is mutual. This is something that will change that. Previously a referred prospect or applicant was just that. Now those names are money. It's naive to think that someone won't hold a name longer to try and flip them one way or the other. And within a station it's sometimes expected that a more successful recruiter will assist a less successful one by referring someone. Now, that additional contract is going to take money from that recruiter in addition to depleting the funnel. This makes it that much harder to be a team player. I'd be lying if I said that these factors wouldn't come into play for myself. I'd like to think I'm professional enough to help someone out, but at the same time if that referred contract is going to cost me a $500 bonus for the quarter... well... who knows.

Lastly, and I hope this is something I'm just seeing the worst in people on, this is another temptation to do wrong. As it stands a small percentage of recruiters do things wrong. Whether intentionally or accidentally rules get broken or bent. And these improprities occur in an environment where the biggest reward, the reason to bend and break rules, is so that you get left alone. Now we're adding a financial incentive to the mix.

I'm CPL Snuffy and I've got my GA enlisted for the month and it's the Friday before Mission Monday. If I can get one more OT I'll be able to get that $100 and take my girlfriend out to dinner. I find a senior bravo who's ready to go, except he's so hot that he melts the DAT stick. Now I'm in a CPL in a pickle. This guy is going to be it for me for the month. There's nothing else. I make the wrong decision, take him to the head shop, get him "the drink" and hope for the best. He phys's and enlists. Rejoice. Three days later he's a DAT loss. Is the incentive pay now recouped? Even if it isn't, and I'm lucky enough that the kid shuts up about me taking him to get the drink, I'm still in the hole for next month and I've done something stupid. Far more likely the kid talks, tells someone he was told to take the drink, I'm now under investigation and will face the possibility of being PFC Snuffy.

I know it's not a perfect example, I made it up on the fly, but I'm trying to point out that money changes decisions. The totally straight-arrow recruiter is more likely to get a bit of a bend when the difference between getting $0 and getting $1,000 is a kid shutting up about a law violation.

I realize that I'm being just as bad as the counterrecruiters when I assume that a new incentive like this is going to result in more improprities. The vast, vast, vast majority of recruiters are honest NCOs who wouldn't risk their career or integrity for such a small, short-term game. But With a new incentive like this there are going to come new temptations and problems.

I hadn't even touched on the problems of perception that Station Commando discusses, and that's a very valid concern as well. This is something that's going to make us Army recruiters look more and more like sales people. The same annoying species who descends on you at Circuit City. Obviously someone being a "salesman" isn't a bad thing. Despite the perception it doesn't keep people from buying a car, a house, a plasma TV, or whatever else. But it's a perception the Army has tried hard to distance itself from, and in this one step undid all that work.

Maybe in the end it will all work out. Maybe this is going to be the incentive that makes the mission easier. Maybe that carrot will result in USAREC hitting 110% for the recruiting year. Maybe, after six months of this program the Recruiter Incentive Pay will become even MORE of an incentive by penalizing recruiters for failing to meet mission. If we get $100 for putting in two, maybe the next step is to take $100 if you wind up at a -1? I know it's a stupid thought, but if you'd asked me six months ago if I could get $100 for enlisting what I'm supposed to enlist I'd have thought that was stupid.


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