Back in May, my friend Julie posted an IG blurb that fired up my HR brain. The gist: by staying loyal to her employer, her compensation is likely 30% (or more) behind her peers. Her statement (paraphrasing) that loyalty shouldn’t be penalized was spot-on … and … it reminded me of frustrating conversations I had with leaders during my career.
Making the Investment
The circle of input/output is constant … especially with people. Without investing on the talent input side (seeking the right skills/getting them hired/embedding them in the culture/and giving them all they need to be productive contributors), you won’t get the productivity or results to meet the output (business objectives) expected. But only investing on the input, risks negatively impacting the existing team. Those who keep the machine running – or in the wise words of Sandy: actually get sh*t done. Assuming the loyal teammates competently execute their duties, they will likely take on more while the new person is getting up to speed. As a result, the actual output of the team – never mind the morale…especially if turnover is an ongoing issue – takes a hit until all cylinders are firing (so to speak).
Ok, that makes sense, you say. So what’s the frustrating part?
It’s getting managers/leaders their contradictions. I tell them: you kick and scream for “competitive compensation” to attract talent … and … you kick and scream that top performers are ungrateful for a 2-4% raise when they executed deliverables. (Let’s not get into the part about limited resources, challenging conditions, and abrupt shifts in strategy.) It’s in coaching them to address the “tails” of their team: the bottom and top 5% that sap 80% of their time. It’s in preparing them for the conversations for the 95% and 5% – both groups deserve specific feedback for understanding and growth. That requires thought and time … and it’s hard work.
Invest in Me
But why does this matter to me?! I’m on the receiving end of this and I’m not a manager.
In the spirit of #3nomorethan5, the advice I give to employees is similar to how I coach leaders (more on that in Part 2) … with a slight twist.
- Culture is foundational – Hold the company/leader to the values they say they espouse. If “people first” is cultural tenet, ask for a definition. Engage in discussions around how this shows up in company processes. Taking the initiative to start and sustain that dialogue allows your leader to get to know you … signals your intent to hold yourself and them accountable … and affirms that all parties value the same principles.
- Be clear on expectations – Do you understand the business objectives? How does your work contribute to executing the objectives? What does good/better/best looks like? How are you expected to work with partners that interface with your work? How does your manager expect you to manage them – weekly summaries…quick 10min update chats…end of month reports? If you don’t know … go find out – now!
- Communicate…Communicate…COMMUNICATE – Are weekly team meetings the best format providing the information you need to execute? How and when do you escalate concerns? Have you and your boss calibrated what is “urgent” versus “important”? Understanding what you can do to stay connected with your manager, teammates, and partners is a skill that will serve you well irrespective of your field, industry, or aspirations.
- Write it down – I’ve seen teammates rely too heavily on “we did/didn’t talk about that”. In my book: if it isn’t written down it doesn’t exist. Take the stigma and stress out of “documentation” by intentionally making the time to do this. I loved getting notes from my team that said things like: I heard you talk about 3 initiatives in our meeting. Two of them specifically connect to the organizations I support so I anticipate needing to do blah blah blah in the days ahead. Am I missing anything? Any suggestions? This showed they were paying attention … that they could synthesize information and tie it to their work … and … it held me accountable to what I was sharing.
Here’s What You Get for the Investment
Will these four steps ensure a raise? Maybe not. Will it (as Julie mentioned) close the gap between new additions and the existing team? I believe it will – because you now have the tools for an effective conversation with you leader. Imagine how prepared you will feel at your next performance review or compensation conversation when you can confidently say:
- I believe in the values of this company … and see my leadership live those values.
- I know what is expected of me … and I executed the deliverables.
- I communicated when I struggled/succeeded in a project … and improved team/partner interactions.
- And I can credibly support my asks for a raise / bonus / promotion.
Good luck … and … let me know what happens when you use these tips and build these habits!