The need to bring clarity to conversations with hiring managers
Any recruitment professional recognizes the dilemma. The hiring manager has been unresponsive to all your initiatives trying to organize the recruiting timetable for the business. At the moment the two of you were about to meet, they are suddenly not available, as more urgent priorities apparently took over. At the same time, when suddenly they need to hire new talent under huge pressure, they demand to get together instantly and want you to clear your agenda to come. And you recognize after a while that this has happened before.
A pattern is born: you have to be responsive to their needs. They have taken control and decided when you talk, and what you talk about. Hiring decisions became one-way traffic, where your role is reduced to delivering a shortlist of candidates. They make the decisions.
In a future blog we will explore the power balance that’s at play here. For now, we assume that the power difference is there – if not real, then at least perceived.
In order to maximize your professional role, it’s vital to influence the hiring manager and ensure that you get heard. Your professional input is vital to the process. In order to achieve this, you will need to influence your hiring manager. Next to the right attitude – which we will explore later as well – it is important to have the right mix of influencing skills in your backpack.
Effective influencing can be defined as your ability to achieve results and get things done from others, in such a way that you maintain or build up a strong relationship.
And unlike many people seem to think, influencing is more than being clear on what you want. Much more. Now being clear is important, but it’s only the first dimension of effective influencing. It is the ability to be direct and assertive, stating clearly what you think, why you think this, making requests, making promises, but also arguing, and an important part is also: saying ‘no’. We call this dimension the I-dimension, as it deals with my message to others. I’m on stage and want to influence you.
Another dimension of influencing, and one we often tend to forget, is the YOU-dimension: asking great questions and listening to the answers. Part of influencing is to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person and make sure we really understand where they come from. With the intent to later return to your own opinion, or… to revise your opinion because you learned something new. Paradoxically, the surer we are of our own opinion, the less open we are to place ourselves in the shoes of others.
The third dimension is called the WE-dimension, and it deals with the relationship between the two of us. Is there trust? Do we know each other well enough that we can open up and show our real selves? The WE-dimension is the dimension of vulnerability, where we open up about our emotions, become empathetic to what’s going on for the other person, and where we are safe to express our needs to others.
Effective influencing is the ability to switch smoothly between these 3 dimensions, such that we achieve our own targets while working on the relationship at the same time. This means switching between the I, the YOU and the WE dimensions frequently. And since there is no handbook on when to do what, we’ll need to assess each situation and decide what dimension will most likely bring us what we are after.
This sounds obvious and relatively easy, but in difficult conversations, we often forget to switch and stick with the dimension we are most comfortable with ourselves. Not effective.
This is why increasing your influencing skills is very important and considered a necessary tool of a great recruiter.