A comment made by Maureen on my recent blog post prompted a painful memory about a lesson learned about ineffective "push back". I thought I would bare my soul in hopes you may leave a note about a lesson you've learned as well.
One mistake I recall making was on the candidate side, early in my career I got cocky and began to take the gut instinct that I felt when a candidate didn’t respond well to my push back to mean it was always a red flag. I was proud of this notion; in fact I wore it brazenly as I conducted my follow ups after interviews, closing each candidate down every step of the way. “Locking them down” I called it.
One candidate made it all the way through this process with me, and came on board with my client. About 2 months into his project he came in to meet with our Consultant Representative and after the meeting she came to me. She told me the candidate shared with her that while he enjoyed working for our company and liked the project we had him on, he had felt bullied in the recruiting process. “Bullied”. It hit me like a brick wall. Anyone who knows me would be floored to know I had treated someone that way.
I would push and push until I was sure they were 110% committed, or do a take away – and in many cases I felt that I was justified because they took it. I shudder to think of how many solid candidates I screened out in this process, folks who walked away not because they weren’t committed to the opportunity, but because they weren’t committed to me – and rightly so! In reality they were exercising their own self-respect by walking away.
This is a difficult story to tell, as I am very embarrassed by it. I was determined that I would NOT give a candidate the opportunity to decline an offer, that I would always screen it out ahead of time, no matter the cost… I learned a great deal from being shown the error in my ways. I hope someone else may benefit from the lesson as well. Please, share your own learning experiences – good or bad, candidate or hiring manager – that helped shape your successful “push back” technique.