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Firstly, thank you to you both for a wonderful podcast and good luck with the new full-time role! :-)

We're in a dilemma at the moment over two candidates for a role here. We've been trying to find a person for this position for over 4 months now and finally I feel we've found one who's great. My manager prefers one, whilst I prefer the other. This person will be a member of my team and willl report directly to me.

We're in a technical (IT) environment and the person I prefer is what I call a "developer with personality." The other candidate is slightly more technically competent and has some experience in our sector, but doesn't have as strong communication skills.

We offered the job to my preferred candidate based on the 'long term' potential they had with our organisation. This candidate has come back wanting slightly more money (we offered slightly less than what we advertised at due to the comparisson with other candidates with more sector experience.) My manager is now behaving defensively and wanting to get the other candidate back in and offer the job to them.

This is a common trait of my manager whenever someone voices an opinion opposite to his. He would quite often return with 'If you don't like it, you can get a job elsewhere' or 'I'm the boss and they'll do what I tell them to.'

I am keen for any thoughts anyone has on how I might deal with this situation.

Thanks,
Af.

sklosky's picture

Af.

I'm a big fan of the old "Benjamin Franklin" approach.

I would take a sheet of paper and jot down my thoughts.

Jot down the pros and cons for each candidate.

Next, step back and determine which candidate has more pros and less cons.

For me, communications is a key skill for a manager. I would think that that factor would weigh heavily.

Once I had completed the "analysis", I could rest knowing that I had done what I consider to be the due diligence.

Also, I would have documentation that I would slip into my file for this transaction.

Good luck!!

Regards,
Steve

Mark's picture

AF-

Hire the guy with the better communication skills.

Regarding his counter, I'd need to know more about the role, and the pay, and the benefits, and how different his counter was, and how he presented it.

If he presented it clumsily, maybe your boss has a point... but for now, what can you tell me?

Mark

Afro Boy's picture

Hi,

Thanks for the responses. Much appreciated.

We offered the candidate $5000 less than the advertised price. His counter was very well presented (over the phone) and indicated that if he was to feel comfortable taking on this new position, then being offered the advertised amount would be an important factor for him. He was very open and upfront with me and managed to stay very relaxed and understanding (i.e. not forceful.)

The role is technical (IT) with an element of business analysis and people interaction. The people interaction is an area we currently lack in the team and is my main reason for selecting this candidate. It's also a skill which I believe is harder to develop than technical skills.

On discussion with my HR manager this weekend, we are looking at "splitting the difference" and making him a new offer with an option to increase to another $2500 at the end of this year. This would be based on him "proving himself" and reaching a number of goals we would set together.

My weak skill is in "managing upwards." My sense is that it's certainly not the money which is the concern here for my manager. There is an element of stubborness at play. We could also say that if the candidate is this stubborn to begin with, what would he be like once we have him on board?

Writing about all this certainly helps clarify my thoughts, so apologies for rambling. This is more about managing upwards. Any chance of a cast about this topic?

Thanks,
Af.

WVH's picture

This is more about managing upwards. Any chance of a cast about this topic?

http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/01/managing-your-boss/

chaser's picture

I would agree with the idea of hiring the person with the better communication skills, although it depends upon the role. It sounds like a person who will need to interact with a wide variety of people so it would be best to have this person.

As for managing upwards, I also agree with the idea of listing the pro's and con's of the person. When it comes to the offer the idea of splitting the difference is good, but when you put it in writing like you are going to do you will need to ensure that the criteria for gaining the $2500 part 2 payment is very clear.

Let us know how things go.

Ryan

ctomasi's picture

I'm going to play "voice of experience" here and go against the grain. Normally I would agree with everyone and say the guy with the better communications skills is the choice, but I've been burned by what initially seems like a good fit on that trait.

It turns out this guy had an ego the size of Mt. Everest. He sounded confident in what he said even when you know he was dead wrong. He was a smooth operator, so much it eventually got him fired.

Every time I hear someone and think "Wow, that's a great candidate" I have to remind myself of past experience. I try to get past the possibility of errogance with a few targeted questions that I am 100% certain of my facts and see how well they handle them. Yes, communications skills are important, but they aren't the only thing.

stroker's picture

[quote="ctomasi"]Normally I would agree with everyone and say the guy with the better communications skills is the choice, but I've been burned by what initially seems like a good fit on that trait.
[/quote]

Ditto! Sad but true... and it takes just a couple of weeks, or months at the worst, to realize an error in hiring decision. Unfortunately i've not been through a structured hiring/interviewing training. Looking forward to the podcast on behavioral interviews that i think have been mentioned in the discussion forums or on some casts. :?

Afro Boy's picture

Wow. Thanks for the advice and feedback. It's very much appreciated.

The more I thought about this over the weekend, the more I came to a similar conclusion in my own mind. If after we made the offer of "splitting the difference", they were stubborn enough not to take it, then we would let them go.

That would smell trouble and make me feel that the person may find it difficult to compromise whilst on the job (which is a huge part in software development.)

After another phone call with the candidate and giving them some time to think it over, he accepted our offer and we are now going to have him on board. Will certainly be keeping an open mind whilst watching their behaviour closely to correct any "stubborness" issues which may become a problem.

Thanks again for the tips, advice and for sharing your own experiences. I will let you know how this turns out in the months to come.

Cheers,
Af.

Mark's picture

Caution.

If you look for stubbornness, you'll find it.

If you look for blue hair, you'll find that too.

It doesn't sound like he was stubborn to me AT ALL. He just countered, and so did you, and he accepted. That seems... normal.

Bust your butt to make his first 90 days magically good. Spend lots of time helping him fit in, and treat him well.

It will astound him, and he'll never forget it.

Mark

Afro Boy's picture

Great advice and thanks for pointing that out.

I think that often when you're too close to something for a while, you can't help but see what you want to see, rather than the truth.

Am already planning for his arrival and have some very interesting and challenging projects and events happening within his first few months.

Will let you all know how it travels.

Cheers,
Af.

Afro Boy's picture

Hi all,

Thought I would give you all an update on this.

Firstly, our new recruit has started and is tracking along really nicely. They're adding quite a nice dimension to the group which is exactly what we wanted.

One of our other team members has recently resigned so we now have an opportunity to pick up the other candidate we had in line. We contacted them and they're still very interested, so soon, we'll have both.

The issue we had selecting between these two is that they suit each other quite well and tend to balance each other out. Now we can get both! Funny how things turn out.

Thanks all.
Af.

Mark's picture

Afro Boy-

Well done you! Make sure, again, that you create a powerful first 90 days for the second hire.

Mark

PierG's picture

Mark,
tell us something about how these 'first 90 days' should look like!!! :)
PierG

Mark's picture

near term cast, promise!!!

ctomasi's picture

I'm looking forward to it. I'm close to filling my first position since taking up the IT Manager role. I would love to have the MT info to draw upon.

badman's picture

I would like to support the idea of making the first 90 days something special. I had two very different experiences at my last two positions. In the first one, my manager spent a lot of time introducing me to the projects and people involved while even setting up 'games' and quizzes to help me through some of their proprietary software. At the end of the period we went through the first 90 day objectives and I was scored on each one.

By contrast, the first 90 days (or so) of my current position was spent with a direct supervisor that was so far behind that the only instruction I received was a quick trip around the plant. I spent my first 90 days trying to figure out my job. Very frustrating. Hence my blog.

Mark's picture

All-

I am listening, promise. ;-)

Mark