Office Politics 101: The wrong employee is being forced on me

We went through the application process, including an interview, and now he wants me to select a woman that was not my first choice.

Q: A new employee is being imposed on me by my boss. We went through the application process, including an interview, and now he wants me to select a woman that was not my first choice. I feel under pressure to hire the wrong person. Any suggestions for me?

A: Your boss’s involvement in this matter is probably symbolic of his style of management, which has evolved to the point where he is not encouraging you to have the freedom you need to be an effective supervisor.

“Micromanagement” is a term that has some currency today and you will likely know it refers to someone who can’t delegate and needs to be involved fully in the lives of his or her subordinates.

Your boss may not be an archetypal micromanager, but at least in this instance, he would appear to be the kind of supervisor who wishes to inflict his views on you, even if it could undermine your authority.

I also sense you have some level of discomfort with the process which has allowed this situation to emerge. In most organizations, the HR department makes the arrangements and, in conjunction with the supervisor, facilitates the interviews, testing, and reference checks, for example.

Your company has a less formal approach to hiring. Your boss, therefore, is able to become involved in selecting an employee that would normally be delegated to a subordinate.

To some extent, this issue will also be indicative of his personality.  He is apparently persuasive, even forceful, which is intimidating you.  You don’t feel free to stand up for yourself in this matter.

In addition, though you don’t mention it, you may be uncomfortable with his attraction to this woman. While there may be nothing inappropriate, you might be feeling his interest goes beyond her abilities and experience.

You should also reflect on your personal choice. Is there any validity to the case made by your boss to select another candidate? Is your choice a person who may be less threatening but perhaps not as capable to fulfill the responsibilities of the position?

Also, while you and your boss have different favourites, the dissimilarities may be more subtle than you realize once you look past their appearance and personal appeal.

Are you willing to scrap with your boss on this matter? Are you willing to stand up for what you believe in? You may have to pick your battles in order to preserve your integrity as an individual and, at the same time, maintain a good rapport with your boss.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. You could speak with someone in HR — to receive counsel — but you will also need to assert yourself, if that is your choice. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around but also be aware that your boss will be doing your evaluation and could make your life difficult, should he choose to do so.

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