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The damned if you do, damned if you do not hiring decision
January 19, 2015 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment
The situation: Revenues are falling flat and the company is missing its monthly goal more often than not. It’s not that the company is doing poorly; it’s just stretched financially. Your company has reached an awkward stage where it needs to hire someone with a specific skill set, but the financials to support adding on a new team member simply do not exist. As the leader, you’re frustrated with the feeling of being stuck because you know what needs to be done but you also know that making an expensive hiring decision can convert that frustration into some ugly financial stress.
The opportunity: Even though you weren’t actively searching, you happen to meet an individual with just the right credentials and experience. It’s like the universe heard your request and delivered a seemingly perfect candidate. You do the interview and the fit looks even better. Sure … there were just a couple super teeny-tiny red flags, but you wrote them off as interview jitters. The fact is you really like what you see; you want to close the deal and hire this perfect candidate.
The reality: Through conversation and body language, it’s obvious that your perfect candidate wants the position. You know your cash-flow situation is tight and that adding more financial stress to your company is going to push your payroll percent over the red line. But what the heck, you want to push forward to the pay negotiation. You take a deep breath and say, “So, tell me what your pay requirements are?” The perfect candidate sent by the universe gives you a number … and almost instantly that number red lines your payroll. It’s not terribly over, but definitely into the “this can be risky” level. Congratulations! You have officially entered the “damned if you do – damned if you don’t” zone. Now that you’ve returned to reality, you have the sense of mind to wrap up the meeting with, “Give me a few days to process how we can make this work.”
The Catch 22 decision: You have completely sold yourself on hiring this perfect candidate. Having this individual on your team will do wonders for revenues. It will elevate customer service standards. It will bring a new level of professionalism and sense of urgency to your entire team. But it is going to make your financially tight situation even tighter if things don’t go just right. The perfect candidate just called to find out if you have an answer. Ok … now you’re stressing out. It’s time to make a tough decision.
The above scenario is one that all leaders eventually find themselves in – or more accurately, put themselves in. Here are some No-Compromise strategies to work through a “damned if you do – damned if you don’t” hiring situation:
- Earth to leader: Perfect candidates certainly are amazing, but it’s important to remember that the ultimate success (or failure) of your company is in no way connected to this seemingly flawless potential employee. Furthermore, after 40+ years as a business owner and a leadership coach, I have yet to witness a “success miracle” occur as the result of hiring that one perfect candidate. Yes, the right hire can boost sales and performance, but on the same note, that perfect hire can also turn out to be quite ordinary – or even a perfect dud. (Remember those super teeny-tiny red flags you brushed aside?) Give yourself some credit. You’ve built a great company that most likely just needs its leader to engage and rally his or her team.
- Hiring is a negotiation: In the above scenario, the candidate clearly wanted the position. That means no matter what the candidate’s financial requirements are … it’s negotiation time. The key is to enter the negotiation knowing exactly what your financial limit is. Next, you need to be prepared to end the negotiation when the red warning lights of your financial limit start flashing. A solid approach is to give the number that works for you and your financial reality, and then allow the candidate to digest and respond. If the candidate truly wants the opportunity, he or she will negotiate.
- See it to believe it: You can always bid low and set some performance goals and timelines that, when met, will move the candidate closer to their desired pay rate. This approach gives you a chance to actually see the abilities and performance of the perfect candidate in action before he or she earns a pay increase. If the perfect candidate is in fact “the perfect candidate”, he or she should be willing to demonstrate his or her level of confidence and determination to deliver results.
- Know your stress tolerance: It is so easy for an entrepreneur to justify pretty much anything. Be mindful that “selling” yourself on a seemingly perfect candidate can and will blur your judgment and wreak havoc on your finances. Just like you need to know your financial risk limit, you need to know your physical and mental stress limit. If the decision process and cost of hiring the perfect candidate is pushing you past your stress tolerance … your best strategy may be to pass on the hire. Your current reality is a known factor; the performance of the perfect candidate is not. Find other solutions. Most often, those solutions are waiting to be harvested in your existing team. They know your company. Their solutions will surprise you if you give them a platform to be heard.
- What the hell: Heck, you can just decide to go for it and hire that perfect candidate sent to you via special delivery by the universe. You can take the risk, roll the dice and discover that you made the best hiring decision of your business career. And that is why we love playing this great game of business.
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