We discuss communication a lot here at the Compensation Café. We know that if people do not understand their compensation they are unlikely to be attracted, motivated or retained by it. But, recently I was reminded of a simple lesson that is often missed in the rush of deliverables and priorities. When you’re enthusiastic about something people listen.
I went to dinner with some colleagues two nights in a row. The first night our server was effective, but sullen. We talked more about why she seemed upset than we did about our food. Everything was delivered in a timely fashion. The food tasted fine. I cannot remember what I ate. The second night our server was effusive and bubbly. She described the food in ways that made me want to order far for than I could eat (which I did). She not only used adjectives like marvelous and amazing, it felt like she really meant them.
As our group discussed different items on the menu we also used more excited language. We talked about the lamb bolognese and branzeno and compared the trumpet mushrooms to the brussel sprouts. In the end we even placed one order for a halibut cheek appetizer, based solely on the servers passionate recommendation (“I wait all year for the chef to put these back on the menu!”)
Most of the people at the table were involved in compensation (I lead an exciting life) and this meal got us talking about compensation presentations. New plan rollouts, discussions about benefits and meetings about performance results can all use a little joy. We often get bogged down explaining the details and miss the point. If people are excited and interested they will often explore the details on their own and come back with important questions. If we can’t muster up the enthusiasm to engage people at the very beginning of the process how can we ever expect them to be engaged in the future?
Before your next meeting with a group, or even an individual, ask yourself if you would be more interested after the discussion than at the start. If not, it may be time to change your approach. Just remember than a little enthusiasm isn't really enthusiasm. As our server showed us, if you embrace the concept you may be able to get people to try things they would have never otherwise imagined.
Dan Walter is the President and CEO of Performensation an independent compensation consultant focused on the needs of small and mid-sized public and private companies. Dan’s unique perspective and expertise includes equity compensation, executive compensation, performance-based pay and talent management issues. Dan is a co-author of “The Decision Makers Guide to Equity Compensation”, “If I’d Only Known That”, “GEOnomics 2011” and “Equity Alternatives.” Dan is on the board of the National Center for Employee Ownership, a partner in the ShareComp virtual conferences and the founder of Equity Compensation Experts, a free networking group. Dan is frequently requested as a dynamic and humorous speaker covering compensation and motivation topics. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @Performensation and @SayOnPay.