In today’s post Molly Hegeman, CAI’s Vice President of HR Services, shares helpful strategies for approaching conversations about pay with preparation and confidence.
If you’ve been in HR long enough, you’ve inevitably experienced uncomfortable conversations about pay. Whether it’s with an unhappy employee or a frustrated manager, your staff looks to you for answers in these emotionally charged situations.
So what can you do to feel more comfortable and prepared the next time you’re questioned about pay?
First, don’t say “No” right off the bat. Start by asking questions and gathering information.
- Why is pay suddenly an issue?
- If it’s about an employee, is he/she a good performer?
- Does the employee demonstrate potential with your organization?
- If it’s about hiring, has there been recent turnover in the position?
- Are you having a difficult time making an offer to candidates because of pay?
Second, agree to look into the situation. Research market data about the position. Go to trusted survey sources, like CAI’s NC Wage & Salary Survey, seek outside expertise.
- Look for answers to questions about the position:
- What is the market paying?
- Is this a market-sensitive position?
- Is this an issue about low supply of the skill set?
- Are benefits and/or your total rewards package competitive?
- Look for answers to questions about the employee(s):
- How long has the employee(s) been in the position?
- What is the performance history of the individual?
- Is this employee a strong contributor with future potential?
- Are there implications to other employees within the department?
Finally, don’t get defensive. Remaining calm will help you have a better conversation about the issue. Your goal is to maintain an objective perspective and develop a credible position based on facts and knowledge, not emotion. They will most likely come to the conversation with plenty of emotion of their own, so addressing their concerns with facts and research will help you both understand the situation better and have a good follow-up conversation. Whether you end up agreeing to make an adjustment or providing rationale for why the pay is appropriate as is, you will be more credible and have confidence in your decision.