I have a young - one of my solid/top performers - who over the past year has gotten married, bought a house, and most recently his wife lost her job.  

In our last O3 he is claiming that he is now 'undervalued' and should get a raise.  This week its on his O3 agenda again for specifics.  

I told him that he is performing above expections and - assuming continued performance - is on track for advancement.  I also mentioned that the way to 'get' more is to 'do' more.

I did get him to clarify that he needs more money because of choices *he* made - 

According to HR we are competitive in our market (the are double checking), and I let my boss know that my direct could be 'at risk'.  Even thought the economy is down, the market for good technical talent seems tight.  I do not want to lose this person if I can help it.

I am a little put of by a few things (I am a high D...):

-  I don't love the 'me first' approach.  We try to build a culture of customer, company, team, then self.

- Nobody 'made' him accept the job at the salary offered (he has been her about 3 years).  Again - individual choice. So this idea that he 'accept less' and now 'deserves more' seems immature.

- Nobody 'made' him get married, buy a house, etc.  Sure - we all wish for the days when we were single and money flowed like water. 

So I could give adjusting feedback on these points.  I would rather focus on the 'ok - here is how you get there' - and focus on a coaching plan.  But as one of the M's said 'I don't have a printing press in the back room to print money when anyone asks'.

If anyone has been in this situation I would appreciate any guideance.  Assuming he stays on track for promotion to the next level, its typically an incremental salary bump and jump up the next pay grade / band (so more long term headroom). I have no problem with that.





piratedave's picture

Regardless of who is at fault - you are interested in his effective performance.  It will be hard for him to maintain a customer first focus if financial stress is overwhelming him.  My advice: Help him to answer the questions at home.

I have found that this discussion is probably being driven from home.  It is likely that he needs to go home and answer questions like "did you talk to your boss about this today?"  "What did he say?" "What was your response?" etc.  These questions may be coming from his wife, or they may be coming from his bank or another creditor.  He likely still has a customer, company first mentality, but he still has to be able to answer the questions at home.

I recommend that you focus less on "how did we get here" and more on "here's how to get what you want."  You say he is on path to promotion and the associated salary increase.  You might discuss that with him - and probably already have.  I recommend you include specifics, such as amount of salary increase, timeline to promotion, and actions he should take to stay competitive.  I also recommend that you tell him about your actions on his behalf (inquiring about salary opportunities, etc.).


gpeden's picture

Thanks Dave -

Thanks for the thoughts.  I am not really interested in fault either - i just want to be careful that I stick to the 'bring more value to get more $$$'.

Assuming our salaries are competitive then my direct likely would not be able to find a job somewhere else for less - if he could, then we are not competive and should do the right thing as a company.

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SamBeroz's picture

That sounds like an excellent opportunity to outline the growth he needs to show in order to advance. Once you've identified the skills gap, you can help get him there by delegating some of the more complicated stuff. A motivated top performer should be able to close that gap with some speed and you'll get time back to work on your own big rocks. Good luck to both of you - Sam

gpeden's picture

great O3 with the direct today - all good. Got him fired up on the coaching plan, etc. etc. etc.

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JohnG's picture

 I appreciate why you'd like to make customers the primary focus of your culture, however I really don't agree with applying that logic to staff pay. Frankly, it's pretty illogical. The obvious hyperbolic extreme is that you should all be working gratis 100 hours a week to give the customer the maximum quality of service for the best price. Clearly you don't. In fact, you almost certainly accept that retaining top talent, motivated and positive staff with a fair financial reward is the most effective way operate.

I can't judge your employees situation, nor would I want to even suggest whether you should or shouldn't do anything regarding salary. What I would like to do is play devil's advocate for a second:

> He's been in the role for 3 years. How much has his pay changed during that time? He could be right that with his experience and development he could now attract better pay.

> Just because he has only highlighted the issue now he is under financial duress doesn't mean it is untrue. He may have been under-paid but either didn't really care or didn't know as he had never investigated.

> To be direct, the fact he accepted the salary offered for the job 3 years ago does not, in any way, mean he's obliged to accept what he has now.

> Looking at his current situation entirely as a rod he made for his own back won't help you effectively deal with the situation. Even if he hadn't gotten married and still rented his financial situation may be no better due to the job loss. It's easy to look at others and dismiss financial issues as being due to irresponsibility, that doesn't make it effective.

Try and imagine his position, his options and how he may respond to your possible actions. If he isn't taking enough money home to cover outgoings at the moment  then no amount of discussion, coaching etc is going to resolve that. You'll find out pretty quickly whether he can get a better salary elsewhere.

JohnG's picture

 Great to hear. Hope everything goes well. May I ask how you've addressed the financial concern?

_Ryan_'s picture

When I had my first job out of college I once asked for a big raise and talked all about how my pay wasn't meeting my needs and I mentioned briefly how I did good work and needed a raise.  My boss said that personal needs didn't have a whole lot of bearing on raises and that it is always best to talk about achievements and the value of work I'm giving the company. 

He rescheduled our meeting for the next week and I put together a list of accomplishments and how my work had contributed to the companies goals and allowed us to achieve more work with less people and was very focused on the value I provided.  After that I received a 35% raise.