After you hammer out your plan, share it with the hiring manager. Thoroughly explain exactly what is about to transpire — the complete sequence of events from start to finish. Don't just stop there, however. Also explain the underlying why behind each step, and what holdups you might encounter.
People want to understand the ins and outs of the plan, not so they can execute it themselves but because they're curious and they like to learn. So humor them. Besides, educating your client is how you build trust. When you explain what's happening, how it will affect them, and how it will make their lives easier, you relieve any unease they may feel as a result of putting this important project in your hands.
Educating your clients also convinces them of your credibility — which you may need if you want them to trust you to run the program without interfering, to give you the leeway to act on their behalf, to go the extra mile at your say-so, and to remain confident in you when (not if) the project hits a snag. And, when they understand what you're doing and why, they're more likely to offer their cooperation and insight.
Don't be surprised if the first time you present a detailed plan to a new client, he or she is a bit flabbergasted by how much work is involved in the hiring process. Many hiring managers have no idea how difficult it is to fill these types of positions. That's likely because they've been misled by previous consultants, such as headhunters, who are notorious for conveying that whatever the client wants is realistic and infinitely doable — and for waltzing in out of the blue a few months later, candidate in tow.
Sure, these types of interactions may make the consultant look like a genius, but they tend to downplay the intense amount of planning and work involved, and they do nothing to demystify the hiring process or encourage the hiring manager's enthusiastic cooperation, let alone her participation. (These types of interactions may also explain why so many hiring managers seem to believe that the position they're looking to fill is the most important one you've ever worked on in your life, and that you have a bag of magic beans in your desk drawer that allow you to grow candidates on demand.) The good news? In our experience, when presented with a detailed plan, most executives are quick to grasp the three-dimensional-chess nature of executive recruiting and the million moving pieces that comprise an executive search.
Actively engaging the hiring manager in the search improves the health of your business relationship.