In my travels, I often find two extremes in staffing companies: one that shoots from the hip; the other that wants to measure everything.

The first has more fun. They ring a bell or do a wild dance when they score a direct hire fee or win a contract. Their sales people get apoplectic when they talk about a new employer coming to town. When you talk software with them, they get really excited about stuff like email marketing campaigns, text messaging and mobile applications. They even shave their heads when they reach profit goals. Anything new or cool brings out big smiles. And yes, they're going national next year.

The second lives more sanely. They don't get bipolar when a client steals an employee. If a sales producer quits, it's not the end of the world - they have three seasoned professionals starting the next week. They manage business processes like a hawk, and they have business continuity plans in place. Every branch manager knows how she is getting measured, and the performance reviews happen like clockwork, using objective criteria so confrontations and surprises are few. When you talk software with them, they're more interested in facilities that make sure business processes like weekly checks or arrival calls happen when they should. They've got a 25% growth rate budget in place, but they know perfect storms happen so they do reality checks on those plans on a regular basis.

It's a stereotype, but entrepreneurs run most staffing companies out there, and they tend to error on the side of shoot-from-the-hip. An attitude of "It worked for me at $5 million, so it should work at $50 million too", persists. Or, as one of my favorite business people, Bill Gates, said when complaining about a loss of zeal at Microsoft: "When the hell did this company become IBM?" Perhaps the worst can be the impact on staff if they're not on the same 24/7 program as the owner.

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