Transactional Analysis at work in hiring decision
I have been assisting the church personnel committee to try to recruit a new musical director and organist to replace the 71 year old who just retired. I helped set up (what I considered) an objective process with numerical scores for various elements of the process. So many points were awarded for performance (playing in their own church, accompanying our soloist, our instrumentalist, and our choir), to be tallied with the interview results. The committee chair appreciated my input and agreed. Others on the committee teased me about the numbering elements of the process.
Discrimination and Interactive Styles
One candidate who has not been able to find much work in town B has to travel to Toronto for other contracts. Many committee members began to hold his commuting and time demands against him. They did not believe he would give our church enough time. They judged him from a parental perspective and behaved like rebellious children (TA). I know I was excessively influential to dissuade them from not fully considering him. I wanted them to behave from their Adult mode, to consider the fact that his need to commute was not his fault. The brilliance and technical competence of this Mr. X, a professional musician, was far superior to the other candidates. His ‘performance’ was also held against him by those less skilled in the choir and on the committee. They were used to a modest and refined tone or culture from a retired teacher and a very gifted musician who was also very modest and humble. That previous director was also very gold – he demanded punctuality and faithfulness in attendance over brilliant musicianship. He was extremely thorough and revered traditional sacred music. He was not interested in modern music. Now our committee must consider younger musicians with unique approaches to directing church choirs. One candidate, Mr. Y, shared the same humility of the one who retired.
The panel’s reaction to the two extremely different candidates was educational for me to observe. Reactions to candidate X were extremely negative by one very influential choir member on the personnel committee. She did everything she could to sway the committee to go with a safer, less competent, Mr. Y, more of the status quo type of musical director. The minister described Mr. X as competent but maybe too strong for our choir. The minister described Mr. Y as adequate but weak in terms of leadership qualities. Mr. Y was a skilled composer and liked to use electronic music (CDs) instead of personally playing the instruments. The choir was going to put a stop to that idea in a hurry!
I watched people’s opinions shift in the final meeting back to the informal choir leader’s safer choice, Mr. Y. I am not in the choir (could not make the full commitment) but I held the proxy vote of the most talented operatic soprano for Mr. X. I shared my vision with the committee of where I thought Mr. X could take us musically, spiritually and financially. I asked them to consider the larger question. Did we want the church choir to die off with the very senior members who were opposed to Mr. X? Most in opposition are in their 70s and 80s. Or, did we want the church to be re-generated with musical youth (a commitment generously described) recruited by Mr. X? Mr. X’s plans were quite ambitious and this too scared many of the hiring committee.
The choir and committee’s initial resistance to change was very evident. The majority of the elderly choir members appeared stuck in the denial or anger stages. I wanted to, as Fisher and Brown (1988) build a relationship tries to be hard on the problem and soft on the people. I was reminding myself about their pain from losing the original choir director of 8 years. The predecessor had been there for 43 years, so they had little experience coping with change in their church musical lives. With more information about Mr. X’s serious commitment to previous jobs (over 10 years with one church) I was able to inspire the majority of the committee to ‘see’ the vision that Mr. X had planted for me. I spoke from my heart and tried to see both sides of the hiring decision. I tried to explore their interests that Mr. X could satisfy. I wanted a Win-Win outcome for Mr. X, for the choir, for the church and ultimately for our community. I envisioned our church becoming a musical centre for all kinds of cultural activity. Our committee has made the offer. Mr. X is a wise negotiator.
Mr. X has asked for more clarity (so as not to be exploited). Some on the committee think Mr. X should not be paid for some duties. I got defensive when I represented his interests. I am aware of the limited budget but do not condone exploiting others. I prayed that Mr. X would accept our offer.
I left Ontario and I learned that Mr. X was hired and lasted 6 months – he proved too exhausting in his demands of the modest choir and was ‘let go.’
This story reminds me that our negotiations are never pure. We are influenced by previous experiences and values emanating from those experiences. We need more balanced Adults at the table in future planning decisions.