The Key to a Successful Salary Increase Conversation

Salary adjustments.  Merit increases.  Annual salary reviews.

Call them whatever you want, this simple fact remains:  the process of reviewing and adjusting salaries for employees is a stressful one.  So much anxiety, tension and trepidation.

Many companies are focused on a standard process, a fair review that incorporates performance and potential, and hitting “the number” just right, to compensate employees according to the factors important to the company.  As a matter of fact, many companies do this very, very well.

Why is this, exactly?  Why does it almost never go well?

During my recent reading about Customer Experience, Employee Experience and how important Employee Expectations are in both of those equations, I had an epiphany.

I think I have discovered the key ingredient:  expectations.

Think of it this way – the success of a salary increase conversation hinges not on whether the process was fair or equitable.  It hinges on whether the employee thinks it is fair.  That is a fairly small, but at the same time HUGE difference.  Let that sink in for a minute…

It hinges on whether the employee thinks it is fair.

Soooo…

What am I saying, exactly?  Am I saying that the only successful salary increase conversation is one that the employee dictates entirely, and basically chooses what his/her increase will be?  Nope.  Not at all.

I’m saying this – understanding what your employee expects going into the entire process will help you understand their mindset coming in, and allow you to have multiple productive conversations to arrive at a point where trust is present, and the ultimate decision (even one that you may not have agreed with, or approved of) can be successful.

Here are a few tips on how to do that:

  1. Build trust first.  It starts early on in the relationship and needs to be sustained over time.  Trust matters.  Seeds of successful salary conversations are planted months before the actual salary conversation.
  2. Hold regular 1:1 conversations.  Become comfortable talking with each other about work topics, and “how do you feel about ______”.
  3. Introduce the topic frequently enough to make it a comfortable conversation.  In these private 1:1 conversations, talk openly about salary & compensation.  This will allow future conversations about compensation to happen much more easily.  #practicemakesperfect

Note:  countless managers talk about compensation/pay once per year (at salary adjustment time) and are shocked when it doesn’t go well… OF COURSE IT WON’T GO WELL!!! 

It takes effort and practice!

Now, I understand it’s never this simple.  There are so many complex factors and variables in each individual circumstance that it would be impossible to prescribe one “best practice”.  But start with building trust over time, and understanding expectations, and you will feel better prepared during the entire process.

(“What’s next?” after you understand their expectations is a future post… please share any thoughts/comments/questions below!)

 

Leadership is the ‘Platinum Rule’

The Golden Rule.  Feels like something most of us have known, and been taught, from when we were young – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Basically, ‘treat others as you want to be treated’.  Simple enough, right?

While a very good concept as a basic thought & principle, to find success at work and in leadership, I always felt it needed to go one step further.

Several years ago I stumbled upon a concept called the Platinum Rule.  I will attribute my learning to a Dr Tony Alessandra (an originator of the concept, as far as I can tell, in this book from 1998).

The Platinum Rule simply states:  treat others as they want to be treated.

While a very simple concept, it is profound in its application in the workplace, in leadership, and in our personal lives.

A couple of simple personal examples:

  • Once I received a Christmas gift from someone I know fairly well, and am fairly close to.  The gift was well intended but was very obviously something this person would have chosen for themselves.  The sentiment was basically, “I would love this gift, so I know Scott will as well.”

Probably more of a ‘Golden Rule’ type gift (and for the record, it was not my wife.  She is an excellent gift giver! LOL!)

  • A few years ago at work, I was talking with a certain manager about some recognition he was giving his team for a job well done on a certain project.  He was very excited to call out excellent performance of these team members.  As he was talking through each person, he shared that for one lady on his team, he was going to pull her aside, and in a private, 1:1 setting, express how important her contributions were, and how much he appreciated her.  “Why not do that in front of the whole group?” I asked, thinking I was adding an element of excitement to his recognition.  “Because she would hate that.  She’s told me.” He replied, very matter of factly.

Wow!!!  True “Platinum Rule” recognition – he did it in a style that she preferred, and would appreciate.  I learned a lot about the Platinum Rule that day.

The best leaders I have ever known use this concept constantly – it is almost second nature to them.  The communicate in a way the other person prefers (thus increasing the effectiveness), or they assign tasks, follow up, and check in the way the other person prefers.  It’s awesome.

Please share comments below!  Have you ever worked with a leader who truly demonstrated the Platinum Rule on a regular basis?

 

Eyes Wide Open Trust – the power of effective boundaries

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

Trust must be given, not earned, but I’m not advocating blind trust.

My wife and I have four boys: Christian, Preston, Jackson, and Lincoln. When they were little, the street in front of our house was completely off-limits. The risk was too great. But if they were still afraid to cross the street as thirteen-year-olds, or twenty-year-olds, we’d have a problem. I want my boys to wisely take risks that are worth taking, and to not live in fear. But I don’t want them to walk across the street with their eyes closed. I want them to have their eyes wide open and look both ways. And then to walk forward.

In the same way, I’m not asking you to plunge ahead foolishly, but to make a mature, calculated, thoughtful decision to trust because you’ve decided the benefits outweigh the risks.

By all means, be aware of red flags when you sense that someone isn’t trustworthy–they don’t necessarily mean that there’s no way forward, but you should ask where they are coming from, take more careful steps, and set appropriate boundaries.

Not blind trust. Eyes-wide-open trust.

Have you ever known anyone who seemed to think that trust was a sign of weakness, and that putting themselves in a vulnerable position would make them needy? The truth is entirely the opposite.

The decision to trust is a profoundly free act.

Only a confident, secure, courageous person can choose to trust.

Far from being a sign of weakness, mature vulnerability can only come from a place of strength.

For those situations when it doesn’t seem reasonable to give trust or where there are areas of concern with other parties involved in your relationship, you can approach the situation with your eyes wide open.

  1. Determine what is not safe

If you find yourself in a situation where giving trust or entering into the relationship is questionable, determine what it is that makes it questionable. Get to the root and give it a name. Is there question with integrity, are there illegal activities, does violence or harm concern you? If you can pinpoint the area(s) of question, you will be better able to create the boundaries and plan going forward.

  1. Determine what is safe

What is the good or the safe part of the relationship? Just like you determined what is not safe, do the same for what actually is good. Is the integrity of the individual good? Are they fully competent? Do they have a good heart and a strong desire to do what is right? Whatever it is, focus on it and draw attention to the good.

  1. Create clear (but few) boundaries

Boundaries don’t keep you from playing the game (link to past post), they allow you to play the game. Creating boundaries is not easy but sometimes it is critical. Determine the few boundaries that will make the relationship safe and use them for managing the relationship. If you are in a position of authority, your boundaries may look very different from when you are not. If someone is verbally abusive, the boundary might be that you won’t accept the verbal abuse and when they do, you simply walk away. If someone fails to meet deadlines time after time, you may ask them to report on progress of their projects at various milestones along the way.

  1. Take a step

You will never get closer to someone if you don’t take a step towards them. Hoping and wanting doesn’t decrease the distance between you and another person. You must decide (you want high trust) and then do (take a trust step towards them).

In case you think that I can’t identify with the difficulty of boundaries, let me share a story from my personal life. In the post The Big Lie About Trust I promised I would address the crazies in your life. Many years ago we were friends with a couple and there were some areas of concern with the past of one of them. We were close and hoped for a life-long relationship with them. The concerns we had weren’t just questions or speculation – they were well founded and also shared by some of their own family members, several of their close friends and even the court of law had ruled and delivered a permanent restraining order to this individual. Without going into specifics, these areas of concern caused us to not feel comfortable leaving our children alone with them. The information that we had learned and our concerns alone didn’t make them bad people and we actually never thought badly about the individual. We just had discernment that it wouldn’t be wise or safe to allow our kids to be alone with them.

It is possible to love, respect and care for someone AND not allow your kids to be alone. The boundary that we created was that as long as I was there, the kids could be there. If I wasn’t there, it wasn’t OK. We didn’t expect them to do bad things or cause harm, we just weren’t willing to take the risk.

In this environment, we determined the boundaries and then within those boundaries, we could have a full relationship. These boundaries weren’t created to prohibit our relationship, they were actually created so we could have a relationship.

I wish I could report that this relationship is thriving and healthy. The fact is, about 6 years into our relationship using these boundaries, they felt hurt and angered and didn’t see the boundaries as protective, but rather as damning. They have chosen to not be in relationship with us and in the end, we both lose because of this.

Don’t go blindly into relationships. Don’t close your eyes and walk unaware into situations but also, don’t cripple yourself with doubt and fear. Walk into the relationship, look both ways and take steps forward with confidence.

Lead Well, Lead Often and LEAD STRONG!


richard-fagerlinRichard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.

With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.

A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.

(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Learn more at www.trustologybook.com.)

Twitter:  @richardfagerlin   •   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardfagerlin

Beware of the ‘Friend Zone’ with your employees…

I think we have all worked with, or around, a boss who is waaaaay to impersonal, right?  Like, he/she doesn’t really take time to connect on a personal level, is always way too busy, and just doesn’t really seem to care, right?  It is a pretty common occurrence, unfortunately.

Many who have been in that position swear that, when given a shot at leadership, they will be the exact opposite of that person.  He swears he will be a personable, attentive, loving boss that always cares about his employees, much like a best friend would.  He remembers this commitment so fiercely, they are really quite committed to it.  Sounds good, right?

Well…  there’s a downside.  A serious downside, if you let that pendulum swing too far the other way.

You see, a boss who is too cold, and impersonal, and detached can fail to build trust and thus not lead effectively.  But a boss who goes too far in trying to build trust can actually damage his/her own reputation and trust with others by entering the “friend zone”.

I think of it like this:

friend-zone

The danger zone on the left side is obvious – that’s the one we see frequently and try to correct.  The danger zone on the right side (what I will call the “friend zone”) is much less obvious, but in some ways almost equally as dangerous.

Imagine you are a boss, who in an effort to build camaraderie and trust (in addition to satisfying your own desire for something ‘social’ at work, to create a fun work environment) goes to lunch, hangs out after hours, invites others on some weekend activities like concerts, sporting events or other non-work activities.  Harmless enough, right?  Well, let’s step back and take a look… Continue reading

Play the Odds – 5 strategies for overcoming your fear of trust

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

Let’s address this difficult situation of people that will likely take advantage of you if you are willing to give trust. So let’s play the odds.

Even though trust is not safe it can still be a wise investment. The question is, do the rewards outweigh the risks?

Everyone will eventually disappoint you in small ways. (And guess what? You’ll disappoint them, too.) A few people may betray you outright. But consider for a moment how many people we’re really talking about. How many people, of all those in your life, are really going to take advantage of you if you offer trust before it is earned? Twenty percent? Ten? Two? I guess that, on average, the number is closer to two percent than it is to twenty. Yes, a few people may abuse your trust. But do you want to live and act for the two percent, or the ninety-eight percent?scale

Imagine a weights and measures scale. Put the risk of the two percent on one side, and the
benefit of a trusting, generous relationship with the ninety-eight percent on the other.

Which is heavier?

A Disclaimer

I know many of you are sitting there thinking of all the situations where giving unearned trust doesn’t make sense. Keep two things in mind:

First, I’m assuming the relationships in question are ones where you actually want to win, where you have a vested interest in the relationship being the best it can be, and where collaboration is critical. If that’s the case, let’s apply these ideas. If not, you don’t need to invest time or energy into building trust.

Second, I am not speaking to the extremes. If you have experienced a betrayal of trust amounting to psychological or physical abuse, address it appropriately. Ask a friend for help, get a counselor, talk to a mentor, or read one of the many great books out there that address healing and boundaries on a personal level.

But most of life should not be a crisis. I want to speak to the rest of the time, to normal person-to-person interactions.

If you are struggling with the idea of giving trust – consider the following 5 strategies: Continue reading

Quit Your Job… You Are Not the Trust Ref

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin written for Real. Simple. Leadership.)

If trust isn’t something that is earned (see past post here), then how do we approach relationships so we don’t get hurt, abused, or simply taken advantage of? This is the question that most often comes with the exposure of the big lie. Also, you may be thinking of 3 or 30 people that you think — no you know — would take advantage of you if you simply gave them your trust.

Let me address that but not yet… (this is for the next post)

Since we can’t keep score, it’s time to submit your resignation letter as Trust Referee of your relationships. Time to stop keeping tabs of who is ahead and who is behind. If you are like me, this won’t be easy. I trust ref my friends, I trust ref my colleagues, and I even trust ref my wife. I love my wife very much. We have been married for more than 17 years, we have four wonderful children together, and are truly best friends. But I still struggle with the mind-shift of not keeping score on a daily basis.

I want nothing more than to see my wife thrive. To see her vibrant and doing what she loves. I want her to be encouraged and loved in a deep way — and then I become a bonehead. I find myself counting up my good deeds and her not-so-good deeds. I hope that you can’t identify with this. But, chances are you can. Giving trust without keeping a record of rights and wrongs isn’t easy, but it is essential to win the war for relationships at home and at work.

Love is supposed to keep no record of wrongs. Love is supposed to endure, it is supposed to last beyond the moment or temporary satisfaction. I think trust is like love. Trust should keep no record of wrongs. Once you’ve made a decision to trust someone, once you’ve decided that winning at that relationship is non-negotiable, you have to stop keeping score—whether the relationship is with your spouse or your colleague. Stop keeping track of how much more work you get done, how many times you hold your tongue or how many good ideas you present at meetings.

It will still bother you when your colleague is late or your boss discounts your opinion. It will hurt when a colleague steals your idea for their own or when you get passed over for a promotion or opportunity by someone that doesn’t seem to play fair.

Not keeping score doesn’t mean ignoring a bad situation. Healthy conflict can be necessary. Address the situation with wisdom…

but don’t make trust conditional upon a person’s good score.

Trust them. If conflict does need to happen, it will go much better when it happens from a place of trust.

The number one reason why trust cannot be earned is that even if we could find a perfect way to keep score of the performance of every one of our colleagues, no one could do enough good things to guarantee that they wouldn’t disappoint us in the future.

Trust has never existed in a risk-free environment. No matter how well you know someone, given enough opportunities, everyone will fall short in some way or another. If that’s not a reality you’re willing to accept, then you’re never going to have high-trust relationships. At some point, one of the parties involved has to take the risk of giving trust.


richard-fagerlinRichard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.

With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.

A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.

(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Learn more at www.trustologybook.com.)

Twitter:  @richardfagerlin   •   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardfagerlin

The single hardest thing about management…

Anyone who moves into a management position will tell you that at some point, things change.  Something clicks.  A switch flips.  Suddenly your job becomes much harder.  The problem is, it is really hard to identify why that happens, exactly.  After all, you have worked for managers before, and observed what they do (or didn’t do)… it isn’t that hard, right?  Well, or so you thought…

Then you got the big promotion.

Boom.  It all changed.  It all got WAY harder.  (maybe not immediately, but eventually it did…right?).

Why is this, exactly?

Simply put – because virtually nothing in management is black or white.

There is no simple formula for success as a manager.

Consider a few examples –

  1. A member of your team has lost all motivation and isn’t performing his job well.  A ‘prescription’ of how to cure this condition would be great.  Even the standard processes (call them performance management, or progressive discipline, or whatever…) are not completely black and white most of the time.  The most common answer becomes “it depends” – because there are so many reasons and factors and data points to consider.  There’s no magic switch to flip that will instantly motivate a person, unfortunately.
  2. Team meetings are a drag.  Everyone arrives late, people are totally disinterested, check their phones, or even create reasons (excuses) not to go.  But you know that an effective team meeting should be very important!  (and I agree with you)  So what do you do?  Is there a magic structure for meetings, or agenda to follow that will suddenly make them brilliant?  Sorry, nope.

…and the examples go on.  So many things that seem daunting, overwhelming, and frustrating are simply that way because they aren’t “black and white”.  There’s no simple solution.  Each will require a unique approach to solve them, completely different from what others may offer, and completely different from what you have done in the past.

So, what does this mean?

Well, it means that your success as a manager will depend on your ability to understand and evaluate each individual situation to decide on the best course of action.  It is HARD work.  It can be long, tedious, and frustrating.  There’s no magic bullet.

But understanding that there isn’t an easy answer is the first step.  You’ll stop looking for easy solutions, or waiting for a magic date to arrive when it all becomes easier.  It won’t.  You just need to roll up your sleeves and start doing work!

What do I do now? Continue reading

The BIG lie about TRUST – 5 reasons why trust is not earned

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin for Real. Simple. Leadership)

Nobody comes to the discussion on trust empty handed. We all have strong feelings about it. We know how it feels when trust is misused, betrayed, or withheld. Our perspectives are real and have been informed by a lifetime of experiences, pain and broken relationships. Sometimes these conclusions are helpful and sometimes they hold us hostage.

Over the years I’ve come to a surprising conclusion: our most popular theories about trust are often untrue and almost always unhelpful.

What I’m going to share will likely go against everything you’ve ever heard or thought about trust. Of all the flawed theories flying around about trust, there is one that is more prevalent and also more damaging than any other:

Trust’s Big Lie: Trust is something that is earned.

The Truth on Trust: Trust can’t be earned. It can only be given.

I know, I know. This is a lie that even I have believed for most of my life. The problem with it is that it just doesn’t make sense.

When we’re deciding how much to trust someone, we usually ask ourselves whether they have earned our trust. That seems like the smart thing to do. Until they earn it, we withhold trust to protect ourselves. We put protective policies in place. We micromanage to maintain control and create limits and boundaries to our relationships.

But the truth is, trust can never be earned. Trust can only be given.

Trust is the responsibility of the person who wants high trust. If you want others to trust you – it’s your responsibility. If you want to be able to trust others – it’s your responsibility. If you are committed to giving and building trust, and determined to overcome any obstacles that stand in your way, you will win high trust. If you work patiently and with perseverance to lead your team towards a high-trust, high-performance culture, you can see it happen. Ten of the most powerful two-letter words in the English language are: If it is to be, it is up to me. If you are to have high trust in your relationships, it starts and ends with you.

I fully realize that this line of thinking might make you squirm. When I’m working with my clients or speaking on this topic, this is where everyone starts to jump out of their seats.

Over the next few posts, I will outline why this lie is damaging, how you can better approach trust and give you a vocabulary for making this thinking stick.

For now, ponder these 5 reasons why trust cannot be earned: Continue reading

The Most Dangerous Threat to Culture & Leadership

Team.  Department.  These terms describe a group of people together.  We are all working together, right?

At first glance we may be, but have you ever noticed someone who just isn’t quite “part of the team”?  You may be noticing the first signs of a dangerous threat to your own culture and leadership:  isolation.

One of my favorite TV Shows, Lost, had a great scene early in the series that dramatizes the effect of isolation (scene takes place shortly after their plane had crashed on a desert island):

As you lead your team, you may not feel such a dramatic impact or risk of isolation, but maybe you did notice people who exhibit signs such as:

  • closing their office door
  • working with earbuds in, seemingly all the time
  • “too busy” for things like team meetings, team lunches or workplace activities
  • demonstrating a “just leave me alone to to my work” attitude in any number of ways

On the surface, these things seem pretty harmless.  But if left unattended, that kind of behavior can become contagious; it will start to erode your team’s culture, and undermine your own leadership.  It is important to address early on.

There are many causes of isolation, but a few environmental factors can make it more likely:

  • someone is new to the company
  • someone is new to the team, or department
  • someone works remotely, or in a different location
  • someone has done their job for a really long time and doesn’t really “need” anyone else for help
  • someone who just wants to come in to work, do their own job and go home

Individuals in these categories may simply be more likely to isolate themselves.  Many times this happens so subtly over time that they don’t even perceive it.

But I guarantee your team will be much better off if you eliminate isolation.

My advice to you, as a manager?  Be aware of these causes of isolation – if you identify possible risks or warning signs, take action!  Build trust with that person.  Connect.  Work with them and talk to them on an individual basis, in a meaningful way.  That is the heart of leadership.  Connecting with people.

What do you think?  How have you overcome isolation in a team you lead?

Comment below!