Our CIO client had developed a year-long program that he actually “sold” to the rest of the C suite. He simply needed a qualified program manager. Unfortunately, he said his standard was so high, in which he spent three months not being able to find anybody. It seemed like the longer he looked the more difficult he made it on himself (not uncommon).

He had been through at least five or six good candidates but could never quite bring himself to pursue them. He finally mentioned to us that the rest of his management team was wondering what was wrong with this whole thing. They wanted to know why he hadn’t gotten on with the project. He convinced them to come up with a little more money and committed himself to get it done.

We came up with an excellent candidate and explained to him that the candidate was going to cost 10 or $15,000 more than what he wanted to pay. Being under that kind of pressure, he was convinced that he could do it. After interviewing the candidate three or four times, he was convinced that this was “the guy.” He was so convinced and so thrilled with the candidate he broadcasted the fact that he was going to hire this guy to everyone in the company. And on paper, it sure did make the CIO look good. He was so proud of himself, he was metaphorically “high-fiving” with everyone. Unfortunately, he hadn’t even offered the candidate the job and was making the assumption that the candidate would accept it. He just assumed that he would be able to “work it out” with the candidate. He just got a little ahead of himself.

This kind of thing happens a lot. The poor guy was in the “fishbowl” and everybody, it seemed, was watching to see what would happen. The CIO was so excited he finally got around to talking with the candidate about compensation. He had never really discussed money with the candidate although we had explained to him that the candidate was not going to consider anything less than $150,000 which was $10,000 more than the CIO had in mind or had budgeted.

The CIO was now in a real pickle. Somehow, he got the money. Reading between the lines we think that the guy really put his professional reputation on the line with his company. He did not tell us, but we’re pretty sure that he pulled every political stopper he could to get the money.  What he neglected to do however was to ask candidate about, not just his salary compensation but all of his benefit expectations, etc.

Admittedly, the candidate had never really analyzed his present benefits package all that much. Now that he was faced with a possible job change, he started looking at all of his compensation. The candidate came to the conclusion that his present benefits package was worth at least another $15,000, so he decided that he wouldn’t move for anything less than $165,000.

Now, to be fair, we had discussed all of this with the candidate before the initial offer was made. He never mentioned anything to us about his “benefits package.” We asked him when the negotiation was going on about anything else he could think of. Admittedly, we believe that the whole thing went to his head and he started thinking, “well, if I can get  then to $150,000, I probably can get more.” He never really quite said that to us, but his attitude changed rather rapidly.

What happens next is unsure, given the outcome has not unfolded as of yet.

We have a tremendous amount of empathy for the CIO. He’s in the fishbowl. He stuck his neck out and announced to the whole world that he had this job filled. When things get this complicated and ego starts getting involved, it’s normally not good.

Here is the point:

Try not to get ahead of yourself. Hiring people is hard to do. All you can do is your best and try not to make promises that are dependent upon other people.