I’m working with a perfectionist hiring manager who always has to be in control, and is never wrong. His mantra is “I’m the customer,” and he says it frequently as he micromanages every detail of my work. We are both under pressure to get this difficult job filled, but every time I talk to him I just want to tell him off -- honestly, it seems like I spend more time managing him than I do actually recruiting. Any ideas for getting this guy out of my hair?
Ready for a Smack Down
Hi Smack Down,
Let’s start at the end of your question and work backwards. Can you tell him off? Of course. Should you? That’s for you to decide – just remember that every action has a reaction, and reactions come with a lovely set of baggage called Consequences. Choose yours wisely.
Here's the truth about this situation: Managers love results. Some managers, it would seem, get stuck in the terrible twos
, complete with temper tantrums and rapid mood changes. Life is hard on everyone when you're two, no doubt. And while there are parents who do it, I question the productivity of arguing with a two year old in the heat of a tantrum; it always ends up looking like there's more than one two year old in the exchange.
It's time for you to own up to your
part in the power struggle though. How do you see your role as recruiter? Are you the "go fetch" person, there to save the day for the business? If so, you're getting exactly what you ask for: manager expectations that you can never live up to. And every time that manager catches heat for the business pain of having an empty seat, you'll be the one roasting on the bonfire.
If you want to be treated as a valued consultant, you have to act like one; respect is earned by what you do, and not what you say. Consultants do these things effectively: assess
the situation; define
the deliverables in terms of quality, cost, and time; set
real expectations; communicate
progress and setbacks; and deliver
the negotiated result.
Never step into someone else's timeframe for delivery. When you intake a search or refresh it, be thoughtful of the variables before setting a timeframe to fill; and when you estimate the timeframe, make it your goal to under-promise and over-deliver. Train yourself to speak the truth even if it is not pretty-- you'll be glad you did, because this type of high-maintenance manager needs instant gratification, and you'll be reminding him often of where you are on the roadmap you established at the start.
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