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 BLUF: If you had a candidate you knew and liked, but the manager (your direct report) he would be reporting to was lukewarm on the candidate, would you hire the person anyway?

 

I'm having a conflict with a manager under me.  I have a candidate that has worked for me in the past that has interviewed for an individual contributor role in my department.  I am somewhat new to my director level role, and to this company, and only have managers answering to me.  The managers reporting to me were not my hires. One of them is excellent, one of them is not very effective.  The ineffective manager has a vacancy on his team. I suggested a former direct report for the role, and he interviewed (not exceptionally, but would be a great fit for the role).  The effective manager and ineffective manager were both in the interview.  I knew the candidate and recommended him, the effective manager thought he was a great candidate for the position, and the ineffective manager (his would-be boss) wants to keep looking.  The position has been open for 6 weeks and we've only managed to interview one person for it, with no other candidates in the pipeline. I suggested we try to speak to another candidate before making a decision, which we attempted to do today, but that candidate was a no-show for the interview.  I sent an email to the manager and to our recruiters asking to proceed with an offer for the candidate we spoke to, and the manager replied to all contradicting me and saying not to, and to keep looking for more candidates.
 
I'm rather annoyed that he disagreed with me, in writing, in front of our recruiting department.  I have given him feedback on that and told him if he needs to disagree or discuss, he can do it privately.
 
I don't want to undercut my direct report, but I know he doesn't make the best decisions and I'm confident in the candidate's ability to do the job.  I need to bring effective people in to this team in order to accomplish what I was hired to do.  I feel justified in making the decision for him.  Would I be setting a good candidate up for failure by giving him a boss that doesn't want him?

JWasong's picture

It's easy to fall into a trap of hiring that warm body because he or she is the only candidate and not necessarily the right person. It sounds as though your manager has seen or heard something that's giving pause. The question is, what behaviors did the candidate demonstrate or not demonstrate that's causing those concerns?

You can capture and address that manager's thoughts by using the questions covered in the interview capture meeting podcast. Those four discussion topics will bring those "gut feelings" to the table objectively and also focused on behaviors. You can discuss from there, as needed. You'll need to determine whether any of those concerns would keep the candidate from being successful in this new role. Past performance is great and it can also be misleading. Any new job also comes with different responsibilities and the possibility of a bad match for that individual's strengths.

Most managers don't get to pick all of their directs or team members. Some don't get to pick any. Drucker would likely point out that it's our job to make the most of their strengths while also making their weaknesses irrelevant. That core responsibility is what you'll expect of your direct report manager, whomever you end up hiring. 

I'm not suggesting a hire or do not hire action. I will, however, say this. Any manager causing a direct to fail because that direct is unwanted is not a matter of being ineffective. That behavior from a manager is unprofessional, unethical, and a much bigger problem. As the casts accurately point out, we aren't paid to do what we like. (Though I hope people enjoy what they do.) We're paid to be effective.

Start with the interview capture meeting podcast for the candidate. The other challenge sounds like rebuilding the relationship with your direct report manager. That relationship will better allow you to help him or her to improve. Best of luck in both areas.

-- John

svibanez's picture

As John suggested, this will give you and both your directs the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of hiring this person. Your ineffective direct may have their eyes opened if you and your effective direct can point out specific things about this person that make them worth hiring. On the other hand, you may have your own eyes opened if the ineffective direct can point out specific things about the candidate that make them not worth hiring.

I had an open position last year that had been open for more than 3 months when I thought we had interviewed the perfect candidate. He had all the "right" technical training, skills and documented results. My direct, who would supervise this new-hire, was very new as a supervisor - and had never hired anyone before - expressed serious misgivings about the candidate in our interview capture meeting. It turns out the candidate had made some comments in the interview with my direct that made it clear he was not a team player and my direct told me he could not trust the candidate. I accepted that at face value (this is the "black ball" method M&M talk about in the interview results capture meeting podcast) and we did not extend an offer to that candidate. It took another 3 months to find the right candidate and having the position open that long was very taxing on the entire team as they had to pick up the slack. The team is glad we maintained our high standards and waited for the right candidate to come along.

This is a great opportunity to coach your direct to become more effective. Leading by example and teaching them to accept others' opinions in the hiring process will be much more powerful than imposing your will on them.  Hiring is the most important thing a manager does, and your direct learning to do it well will pay off.

Steve

jaredavd's picture

We've had a post-interview chat and at no point did he say we shouldn't hire this candidate. He said he had some great answers and some areas to work on, but gave no solid, specific reasons to say no.  He doesn't conduct interviews well and I made the mistake of not reviewing his questions before he interviewed the candidate (I had a conflict and let him handle the interview- my mistake).  I got feedback from my effective DR that the manager interviewed poorly, did not ask relevant questions, and then gave unspecific feedback about the interview.   This is part of what makes him ineffective and I do not trust his judgement and decision making ability.

JWasong's picture

Unfortunately, making a hiring decision based on a poorly run interview wouldn't  do you or the candidate any favors. Is a second round interview an option? You or your other manager could lead by example in the next go-around and you'll have better information afterwards.

My questions for your direct report manager would be about the specific areas the candidate needed to work on. Are any of those things deal breakers for the job or are they things this manager can help coach and improve given the opportunity? People like feeling useful and helpful. You might even find this manager volunteering to take the candidate under his wing. That would be a much better outcome than using position power to make the hiring decision.

-- John

Kevin1's picture

I think you should avoid forcing it. Teams are hard enough to build without having people forced into them.  The circumstances aren't working for you.  You trusted him to interview and now you don't want to accept his judgement.

if I were your friend, I wouldn't want a job where my new boss didn't want me and had had me forced into the team.  That seems like a recipe for unhappiness.

I do have a question.  If the manager is so ineffective, what are you doing about it?  

Kind regards

kevin

jaredavd's picture

I appreciate all the answers here, thank you all for responding.

Kevin- some recent behavior from him has crossed a line, in relation to this hire, and some corrective action or even termination may come from it.  We had a conversation about moving on an offer to the candidate I liked if the next candidate did not work out, and he said okay.  The next candidate no-showed to their interview so I sent an email to our recruiting department saying to offer to the candidate we spoke to.

My DR replied to all and said not to do what I just said, and that he wanted to keep looking.  He directly contradicted me in front of another department in writing. I replied to just him (he is out of town this week or this would have been in person) and let him know that I would appreciate it in the future if he disagreed with a decision of mine that he do so privately and not in front of others.  He responded that I should show him the same respect and that I was moving on his positions while he was out of town without discussing it with him, and that he'd be willing to talk about the position when he got back.  I replied saying this conversation would no longer continue in email and that we'd talk when he got back on Monday morning.  That was two days ago and he's not responded or accepted my meeting request in Outlook for Monday morning yet.

His response was completely inappropriate, insubordinate, and disrespectful.  He's been passive aggressive to me since I was hired in, but this was the first occurrence of this type of thing I've seen. 

mike_bruns_99's picture

I'm going to play devil's advocate here.  While I agree his public response was inappropriate, I think you're missing the larger issue.  The relationship between you and your manager.  I don't know if any of the following is true, but I can easily imagine your manager thinking this way:

=========================================

1)  A New VP (you) is hired.  The manager probably thought he would be better for the VP role, as he had worked and produced for the company for years. Instead, the company brings in an outsider. The company has never given him negative feedback, all the reviews were fine, so obviously he's been doing a fine job for years.  The new VP is cold around him, but he's not giving specific feedback.  The VP just doesn't like the manager, and thinks he's ineffective due to a personality conflict.   

2)  The new VP hand-picks an applicant for the role, a former direct and that person had a "non exceptional" interview.  The manager feels the company only should hire exceptional people.  

3)  Only 6 weeks into the process of searching for a appropriate person, the VP wants to give up and settle for the only person interviewed.  A person the manager doesn't feel will be a good fit.  A bad fit makes a bad team.  A bad hire is one of the most expensive things a company can do to itself.  After only 6 weeks.  The manager would rather wait 6 months with no-one and hire the right person, than settle after 6 weeks.

4)  Rather than talking with the manager about it, one of most important decisions a manager can make, the VP goes over the manager's head and sends an email to recruiting to make the offer.  Making it very clear that the VP doesn't care about the manager's concerns.  So much for relationship power, the VP only cares about Role power.  

5)  If the manager is remotely paranoid, he'll assume the plan is:  VP forces manager to hire person (former direct of VP).  VP Fires Manager.  Former direct becomes new VP's direct again, taking manager's job.  It's an old-boys club after all.

====================================

Again, I'm not excusing the manager's email.  It would have been far more effective for him to disagree in private and work with you through the issue.

Conversely, when you used Role power to go forward with your chosen candidate over his concerns, a true conflict of interest in his mind, it severely damaged the relationship between the two of you.   You absolutely have the "right" to use role-power.  The corporation gives it to you and expects you to use it.  However, it frequently has negative consequences.

======================================

I have no idea of any of the previous comments are true, but it sounds like the relationship and communication between you and your manager is very poor.  Are you having O3s, Feedback, and Coaching?  Or just relying on your role-power and high-D to get results?

donm's picture

From your first post: "I'm rather annoyed that he disagreed with me, in writing, in front of our recruiting department.  I have given him feedback on that and told him if he needs to disagree or discuss, he can do it privately."

From your most recent post: "The next candidate no-showed to their interview so I sent an email to our recruiting department saying to offer to the candidate we spoke to. My DR replied to all and said not to do what I just said, and that he wanted to keep looking.  He directly contradicted me in front of another department in writing."

So, did he do this twice, or are you presenting one instance as proof of his ineffectiveness and insubordination?

If he did it twice, I'd probably fire him. Once is a mistake, but twice is willful insubordination. If he did it only once, I'd be looking in the mirror for the probable cause of the problem between me and my direct.

Kevin1's picture

 

If my boss were to make me hire someone whom I had interviewed and did not want in my team, then the likely consequences are

1) The relationship between my boss and I would be severely damaged as it is incredibly clear that the trust he was showing was just an illusion and he has no faith in me what so ever.  He's going to use role power to override my authority and I'm going to hate him for doing so.

2) The relationship between my new team member and I would be so poisoned as to never have a chance of developing naturally.

3) The relationship between my new team member and my boss would also be damaged as he'd be being brought into a hostile situation unbeknownst to him only to find out once he's in the role.  Not a good place to be.

Yeah, none of this is the high road of professionalism.  However it is human nature to react like this. 

Kind regards

Kevin

jaredavd's picture

 Great feedback, and excellent questions and points.

Hopefully this will address them:

1) I have been having one on ones with him since I arrived.  There have been numerous occurrences that I have given him feedback on since I arrived; nothing egregious but he's been getting specific feedback from me.  For instance, last month I asked him to get a quote for an item we needed, said it was for a VIP and time sensitive with a specific deadline ("tomorrow before noon").  He replied saying that it was a nonstandard request and he'd get something to me in a couple of days.  That's exactly the way he said it, no "I don't think I can meet that deadline, could we discuss the time frame" or anything like that, just said he'd do it when he could.

2) This is the first instance of directly contradicting me in front of others,but he did it twice in the same email thread, once after I told him not to do that.

3) We have discussed the applicant and at no time did he say he did not want the candidate.  Our last conversation before he went on vacation was that we would talk to the other candidate while he was away (the one that no-showed) and that if that candidate didn't work out we'd offer to the other. He said that was okay.  He said that to my face in our one on one that it was okay to offer to the other candidate if the next interview didn't work out.  He apparently has no memory of this conversation (this has happened before, having no recollection of a conversation we had and I took notes on).  At no point did he articulate specific concerns with the applicant.

4) After this thread, conversations, and further thought, I totally agree that it is not fair to the applicant or the manager for me to force the two together and have animosity between them, so this has not been done.

5) I may be one of the only non-high D people around manager tools (at least it feels like that sometimes, certainly everyone that works at manager tools is a high D).  I am a high C.

6) Like Mike said, there's been nobody in his professional past that has held him accountable.  He has not been performing well since well before I got here (my boss confirmed this, but did not tell me about it when I came on as he wanted me to make my own conclusions) and now that I am holding him accountable he is unhappy.  Prior to me coming on board, his boss was in a different state and barely spoke to him, so he's had free reign to do whatever he wants with no controls in place to guide him.  I have attempted to do this and he has been resistant to change and the attempts to grow him over the last three months have been entirely onesided (from my perspective at least), with him showing no interest in my direction, suggestions, etc.

JonathanGiglio's picture

Sounds like you might have a Corky situation here - if he hasn't been performing, he will become his own worst enemy.

At the end of the day, you're accountable to your management and your organization. You have to weigh if exercising your role power is worth the damage to the relationship with your direct report. Conversely - will it improve the situation with your high-performing manager, who might enjoy working with a good performer? If your under achiever is threatened by hiring a star, this could work out badly for all in the end. If I wasn't good at my job, I certainly wouldn't hire anyone better than me. (Although, I would - I always want to work with people who are better than me. How else would I learn anything?)

That being said - direct contradiction in front of others is unacceptable, as is of course not trusting your own managers to hire their subordinates.

Not to be Machiavellian about this, but if you forcing this hire gets this guy to make further mistakes and his behaviors lead to his firing sooner, you might just be killing two birds with one stone here.

Think about where you want your team 6 to 12 months from now and what decisions you'll make today will get you there. Actually, that sounds like an idea for a Podcast!

Good luck!

 

Jonathan

 

 

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I think the person, who gives no solid results & take everyone’s equally, does not perform well for the firm. Feedback, listening quality, interpreting behavior everything does matters.  

JWasong's picture

Thanks for providing those examples of your direct's specific behaviors, Jared. Those examples really help to frame your experiences and demonstrate a longer running set of challenges. It sounds as though you're documenting everything which is both good and necessary.

The actions you take right now with this direct and their formality/severity are between you and your company. Now would be a good time to bring HR into the conversation if you have not done so already. You may not be asking them to do anything yet. It may be you just want to let them know what's been happening and what you plan to do to address the problem. Use specific examples like you did here. Explain your intended timelines and escalation if things do not improve with this individual's performance. Do the same with this direct and you'll be positioned to either get the necessary improvements or to remove him from the position.

You still want to work on the relationship with your direct, as others said earlier. You'll continue to find it very difficult to coach without the foundational respect and trust to back up your suggestions. Of course, it will take him meeting you half way so do the best you can given the tough situation. Use your natural behavioral strengths to stay frosty (at least externally). Remember that you're by no means alone as a high C. We're here with you and MT has a high C cofounder. Some of us just happen to have a lot of D too.

-- John

donm's picture

I'd fire him.

I work in the oil patch, and we "run people off" regularly. It's one of the inherent realities of this industry (exploration/upstream, in particular). He contradicted you publicly. You told him not to contradict you publicly. He publicly contradicted you again almost immediately. That's willful insubordination, and I wouldn't put up with it.

His refusal to accept or follow your timeline in item one shows that he doesn't even respect you professionally. If he were a new-hire-entry-level direct, I might give him some chances. As a manager, he should be immediately terminated. This issue/problem is partially your fault. You should have immediately insisted he adhere to your timeline or give you a reason, not an excuse, why it could not be done.

You can't develop a relationship with someone who is openly hostile. Even if you did endeavor to develop a relationship, it would not be worth the effort and energy to do so. I've had two such employees in the last four years, and in both cases I followed the advice you're getting, but in neither case was the effort fruitful.

Concentrate your energies on growing the rest of the team. I don't remember the podcast, but it basically said to put more energy and effort into your good performers, because they perform better and you'll get more bang for the buck.

DRD282's picture

First off, let me say that I agree that the responses to your email were completely out of line, absolutely. And you need to address it. Whether it's termination-worth or not depends a lot on your personal threshold and your company culture.

That said, I don't think I'd have let it get to that point. All of the (very valid) issues that Mike Bruns raised aside, the basic fact is that hiring a Direct is one of the most important job functions that a manager can do. Mark has said that probably dozens of times.  2 things that I would say:

1.) If the manager has reservations about this person, you need to figure out what they are before moving forward. This person will be working with their DR on a day-to-day basis where you may not be. If the manager is not comfortable with that person or feels that they will not work well together then you are damaging the manager's ability to do his job by making it harder for him to build a relationship with his direct.

2.) All of #1 aside, you clearly stated to the manager that "if the next candidate doesn't work out, we hire this person" and the manager agreed. As soon as that interview was a no-show you should have gone *only* to your manager to instruct him to move the process forward. He's the hiring manager, he's the one that should be going to the recruiting department. By doing so yourself, you demean and embarrass *him* in front of another department (e.g. "Wow, Bob wasn't even allowed to pull the trigger on his own hire...Jared really must not trust him".

In both situations you are a.) doing the managers' duties for him and b.) making it clear that don't believe he can do his job, both to him and everyone else in the company.

Bottom Line: If you believe he can do his job, then let him do his job and hold him accountable for both his and his team's results. Coach, give feedback, etc but don't take on his job functions. If you believe he can't do his job effectively, then start a Performance Improvement Plan or the termination process.

Tim