Here’s the most important thing you’ll ever need to know about discussing salary with high performers:
If the conversation is about money, you’re doomed.
The reason is that your top performers are likely to care less about money than any other employees at your company. But they care far more than others about OPPORTUNITY.
Does that mean they don’t want to earn a lot? No. They want and expect to earn more than anybody else because they deserve to. But money is low on the list of factors that will determine whether they walk out of your salary discussion with a smile on their face.
Think about it: What if you gave a nice raise to a star performer, but made it clear she’d never advance in your organization? She’d bail in a heartbeat. Top performers want more responsibility. More exposure to senior management. More chance to make an impact on your company’s market share, profitability and valuation.
So here’s a quick model for your next conversation with a top performer:
- Make sure you understand exactly what their career goals are.
- Seek out ways to show alignment between those goals and the goals of the company. Try to show a direct “line of sight” between the work they do every day and the success of the company.
- Make sure the person understands that you really “get” why they are so good, and that you’re totally committed to finding ways to use their talents to advance the company’s goals.
Never forget that what stars really want is to make a difference. If they walk out of your office after a salary review feeling that the company will allow them to use their skills and abilities to the max, they’ll be smiling.
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