I'm a new manager and hope to get some advice from experienced ones. 
I easily can imagine that somebody went already threw such situation. 

I have various solid performer that didn't got a salary increase since some years. There are around 75% of solid performers in my department and they are doing a good job and have the skills needed. 

Now I want to role out the coaching as part of the trinity after O3s and Feedback. I want to coach them to improve themself and will also request them to do more for the same salary.

What if they use the "low salary" and no increase as a argument that they don't want to deliver more?
Did someone came up with a effective response without promising anything and still encourage them to do more?

Thanks a lot in advance. 

robin_s's picture
Training Badge

Most of my employees haven't had a raise since 2009.  During that time, our company has been struggling with flat revenue and a negative bottom line.  Things are turning around now.  Sales are up this quarter, and we expect to return to profitability in 2013.  The only people who have gotten raises during the past few years were those who were promoted into jobs with significantly more responsibility.  It has been challenging to keep people motivated without a pay increase.  Early on we were reminding people how lucky they were to have a job in this economy, but that line gets old after three years, even if there's still truth in it.

What we have tried to do is promote from within whenever possible.  There will always be positions opening further up the ladder, and those who have delivered consistently in spite of no pay increase are well-positioned to be considered. I try to help folks to take the long view that there will always be rewards in the long run for people who give their best.  If nothing else they are growing and learning, and making themselves more valuable either to your company when the ability to pay more is there, or to another company if they choose to leave.  I've had to tell people who've asked for raises or threatened to leave, that I'd be truly sorry to see them go, but completely understand if they can do better elsewhere. 

For the employee who might not want to deliver more for the same pay, I would try to help them understand that it is only by everyone pulling together and delivering more, that the company will ever be in a position to pay more.  That's not making any specific promise, but helping people to understand that they ARE the company.  

I'd also be glad to hear how others have dealt with this type of situation.   

mattpalmer's picture

I wouldn't even say it's the *primary* purpose of coaching.  The purpose of coaching is to help the employee improve.  Explain that, and ensure that they understand that being better at your job is a benefit no matter who you're working for.  Hell, if they're really just after more money, and moving to another company would get them that, they should be champing at the bit to improve themselves, so they're a more attractive job applicant somewhere else.

I'd also look at the overall working conditions.  It is often said that the only time people complain about money is when the job sucks overall, and I've never seen a situation which made me doubt the truth of that.  Yes, everyone would love more money, but typically once there's enough money for food, clothing, and shelter, people will take a more rewarding job for less money.  Make the job rewarding in whatever way you can, and perhaps the salary complaints may taper off a little.

STEVENM's picture

"I want to coach them to improve themself and will also request them to do more for the same salary.

What if they use the "low salary" and no increase as a argument that they don't want to deliver more?
Did someone came up with a effective response without promising anything and still encourage them to do more?"

I don't think you're using coaching as intended.  I could be wrong, text doesn't convey things like that very well sometimes, but you seem to think of it as a way to squeeze extra performance out without adding any value yourself.  That's unrealistic.  A consistent piece of it, as far as I know, is give and take.  They're motivated by something and have sought out the coaching or you come to them about coaching because you hope to motivate them by getting them in line for a promotion, helping them avoid losing their job because they're low performers, or get that next raise.

The point is there's always give and take.  If "low salary, no increases, no promotions" is a reality of the company you're at... well, they're justified.  It would be foolish to think you don't have to invest anything towards the direct but a little time.  The most driven might take on the coaching to pick up new skills while they jump ship.  That's about the best you can hope for.  Coaching works because it's expected there will be a return on that investment. 

Aversion to change and having a good environment probably works pretty well at retaining people if you're somewhat competitive pay/benefit-wise, but by what you wrote above it sounds like people could get much more elsewhere.  And unless I'm misinterpreting things they don't have much potential to improve that with you.  I guess the real question is "would you be happy about that?"  Until you can find a way to make that a yes expect to manage unhappy folks at best, and possibly lose all your good people over time.

KTatley's picture
Training Badge

Firstly - if money is the only link to productivity then you have a problem that needs fixing.

It's competition out there - just to stay in the same place requires getting better to keep up with your competitors (and that's companies AND peers)

So explain to your staff that improving at the job is a requirement of their position. Plus look at the options - they are not going to get a worse increase by improving their productivity than by not improving their productivity.

And up-skilling can only make them more valuable.

Which do you think is the better option:

1. No increase, no development

2. No increase, get developed 


And watch out for excuses - you and your staff will always be able to find reasons why not to do something that will stop you from reaping greater benefits. Start it, see how it goes, work through the tough patches. Deal with issues IF they arise...

Thomas05's picture



Hi everyone and thanks for the responses!

There are some good points that I´ll put in praxis.


STEVENM to your point:

"Coaching works because it's expected there will be a return on that investment."

I´d love to give everybody some Salary raise when they improve via Coaching and perform "good".

This is exactly the tricky part.. I´m not able to promise or foresee any kind of "return" except the growth of skills, expertise, relationship, etc..

The reality is that a person who is exactly doing what he is expected to do in our company is a solid performer.. and currently they don´t get any monetary returns, only top performers are eligible for a raise if there is a budget.. (and again, I´m only able to nominate around 25 % as these top performers). 

I´ll have to use coaching sooner or later, and have to sell the growth part in return or even say that this will differentiate the Solid and top performers in the future... even if there is money in return.. I´ll still be responsible for results of the Team and improving them over time.. 


From the Coaching Podcast section:

As a manager, you're responsible not only for results, but also for improving results over time. That means you're responsible for improving the skills - the behaviors - of your team. Feedback gets you started, and Coaching helps everyone on your team improve. 


Thanks a lot!