In the next two weeks, crucial pay discussions are happening in many organizations. You may have already completed performance appraisal discussions, but performance should certainly be part of the discussion when 2014 increases and bonuses are covered with employees.
Tense, stilted, easy fumbled, these discussions are not for the faint of heart. The outcomes often seem to be: I'm taking five to fifteen minutes out of the year to tell you what I think of you(r work). What a relationship builder!
It takes a very confident and skilled leader to make a conversation like this work. And when I mean work, I mean calming the employee down well enough so s/he can hear what you have to say; saying it in a way that gives meaning to their relationship with their work, colleagues, manager and company; making a case for the financial rewards in a way that makes sense to the employee.
I know you have stories galore about how poorly this can go. (The worst of them often come out of the C-Suite, BTW.) Data supports our empirical findings. Global scores hover around 50% effectiveness for explaining pay and the rationale for performance ratings.
Why bring it up now, when the sands in the hour glass are running out? Because I hope a few of you will be cheeky enough to pull this off. There really is something you can do at the 11th hour that could help.
Give your managers discussion outlines to use in these meetings. One-pagers with bullet points on them with suggested wording for all the key points that someone would need to make? Written as if the words are being spoken, it's amazing how helpful these can be in:
- Ensuring that the overriding organizational messages don't get garbled, because the managers have the wording right in front of them.
- Providing managers with prompts that can help them articulate their thoughts, especially if they find themselves in a tough spot.
- Explaining consistently to all employees, how the budgets have been allocated for merit increases and bonuses.
- Suggesting good answers to tough questions.
Many managers won't admit it, but they find it really reassuring to have these prompts on the desk in front of them during the meetings. And in the best cases, the discussion outlines are introduced with a short explanation or manager rationale for strategic background on how pay is linked with business issues and career opportunities for 2014.
One-page long. Bullet points of carefully thought out messages. If you're trying to talk yourself out of it, think of all those managers (your managers) fumbling for words. If you put your mind to it and you have to rush it, I bet you can get it written, approved and emailed in a day.
Don't just sit there feeling stressed. It won't help. You will feel better if you act -- and pay this one forward.
It's the end of the year. By now, aren't you wondering how you can give your work more impact? Treat yourself our popular ebook, Everything You Do (in Compensation) Is Communication. It will help you start 2015 with a clearer focus on your influence and your career. You can download the book at www.everythingiscommunication.com. Margaret O'Hanlon, CCP is founder and Principal of re:Think Consulting. She brings deep expertise in communications, compensation and career development to the dialog at the Café. Before founding re:Think Consulting, Margaret was a Principal with Towers Watson. Margaret collaborated with Ann Bares and Dan Walter to bring Everything You Do (in Compensation) Is Communication into the world. Filled with innovative ideas, practical tips and experienced advice, it's a quick read and a valuable resource for building your influence as a compensation strategist.