LIFE LESSONS of a HEADHUNTER: The Difference Between Difficult and Demanding Employers

Diffult & Demanding EmployersThere is a distinct difference between DIFFICULT and DEMANDING. Pray you don’t find both in any one person you are working for.

Demanding employers are just that. Demanding. But employees at least know where they stand in terms of what’s expected of them, challenging though that may be.

Generally speaking, demanding employers are driven by ambition and power. If your and your employer’s values are not in alignment, you will find a demanding employer too much to take on every day.

Difficult employers on the other hand are the ones who drive their employees crazy.

You never know where you stand with difficult employers because these are the ones who, although brilliant and high achieving, are underneath all that suffocating on fear and negativity. Highly volatile — read unstable emotionally — they become powerless over their emotions, and unable to articulate their most basic needs and wants in a consistent or even respectful manner.

The state of frustration and stress that they are almost always in also means their behaviour is often abusive and disrespectful as they are generally prone to raging outbursts. Speaking for myself, as a highly driven entrepreneur, I am ashamed to admit that I too have been guilty of this in the past. It’s not a pretty place to be but there you have it, headhunters are human too.

Ask any business owner operator about the demands of building a business, meeting expenses, delivering on the expectations of clients and employees and most will tell you they don’t get the sleep they need which, you got it, makes them less tolerant — read crankier — than usual towards the things that drive them crazy. For me dealing with cell phone companies, red tape at tax time, and administrative minutiae to name but a few of the things that take me over the edge.

Confessions of a headhunter aside, my friend and mentor, Peter Comrie, once told me something I will always remember. He said “What matters most my dear Barbara is the choice we have to show up big, or to show up small. Be proud that you’ve chosen the first option because, unfortunately, the ones who show up small spend a great deal of their time chewing on those who show up big.”

Life teaches us that showing up big lies in our willingness to be accountable. Quitting or throwing in the towel because you’ve had enough is one option yet, in my opinion, is definitely taking the easy way out. Painful as it may be, the braver option my friend, is to face forward into the wind, look inside, and be the bigger person you really are.

To learn more about the importance of knowing who we are and what we stand for, find out about your values by taking a ten minute Values Blueprint assessment.



Barbara Ashton is the President and Founder of Ashton & Associates Recruiting.

Ashton & Associates Recruiting… Placing Powerful People. Every Time.


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This post has been approved for public release by Barbara Ashton. All certified posts carry this Google Authorship link to Google.