Knowing When to Discuss Compensation

I get a kick out of candidates that (from day one) start off each conversation about what to expect regarding the compensation once they’ve interviewed with one of my clients. Forget discussing the Where, What and the Why of a potential new role – let’s skip all of that and move to the meat of the matter and discuss what’s really important: the amount they’ll be receiving and how often they’ll get paid! It sends a hiring manager a very clear message when the candidate brings up compensation too early in the interview process, especially when the candidate has not even made it to first base (yet). But wait, there’s even worse: asking the hiring manager for a copy of the benefits package in the same breath. I’ve seen it done (over and over), and yet I’ve never seen it play out quite the way the candidate would hope. You need to understand the range for a new role. I get that. But once you know you are in the right comp range – park the money conversation until a later date.

C’mon people – we are smarter than that! Is compensation important in considering a new role? Absolutely! It’s just not what needs to roll off your tongue on the first interview. It should be a natural process that ultimately leads to discussion, but should never be the focal point for why a candidate’s interested in changing jobs. If it is , then we’ve got a problem! It’s also very bad for the hiring manager to ask about compensation too early. I always tell my candidates to try to avoid answering the question. Instead, I advise them to focus on learning more about the organization, culture and the role before discussing compensation. And talking about compensation could wind up becoming a moot point anyway – if the fit is not there, then it’s just not going to happen. There is so much more to consider and compensation is only one of the four C’s to consider when making a career move.

In the end, making a change is stressful enough. Being eliminated early in the process because you’ve placed too much focus on how you’ll get paid just adds to the stress. Let things play out naturally. A close friend of mine used to tell me “You either create your value internally or externally”.

If you are the right person for the role then money will take care of itself.

It always does.

Cheap Recognition is Worse Than No Recognition

Recognition programs are used by employers to drive performance and achieve certain goals that are important to the overall success of the organization. Done correctly, a well-defined recognition program can drive extra effort from employees who love recognition, and see it as a way to track their personal performance. Set a high watermark and watch in amazement as your team’s competitive spirit reaches new levels – to win! It actually makes the day-to-day work much more enjoyable when there is a “pot of gold” at the end. Even a simple and inexpensive plan to publicly recognize employees for a job well done can make a huge difference in performance and morale. It creates and ignites that competitive spirit that pushes us hard to win. It’s a good thing. We love to win!

Unfortunately, it works the opposite way as well. Recognition plans with no specific performance metrics yield, well, nothing. In fact, a lousy recognition plan or the absence of any plan just sends the wrong message to the troops. Poorly defined plans that are loosely tracked create distrust, loss of productivity and just sends the wrong message. Let me help translate the unspoken message:

NOBODY CARES!

That’s not the outcome any organization wants to experience. I’ve seen examples of both and know firsthand the importance of a well thought-out, easy-to-understand plan. Recognition plans need to be clearly written and easy to understand and track. I especially love plans that are specifically designed to accomplish a goal that promotes encouragement by management and by peers. And yes – the actual award and the way it is given needs to mean something. To get the best return for the organization and the award recipient(s), it needs to be a very big deal.
So the next time you think about giving some cheap low-value award to an employee who outperforms your expectations, wins and makes a difference in your organization, don’t be surprised the next time you try to implement a similar plan and get the same message:

NOBODY CARES!

It’s NOT All About the Money

Looking for a new job is truly a full – time endeavor. You need to focus and have clear goals as to what you are looking for. The culture, the people and the person you will be reporting to all matter – as does the role you will have. That being said, it’s amazing to me that so many candidates still focus on the almighty dollar. Show me the money! Yep – you heard it. Finding the perfect gig for you should include checking ALL of the boxes – not just the compensation box.

Your value equation and how you are paid for your knowledge, experience, educational credentials all matter. I get that. What I don’t understand is when candidates try to make a career decision solely on the basis of increasing their W-2. To me there is a fine balance that you must have when weighing out a new opportunity. I suggest that candidates look at the entire opportunity. Stand back for a day or so and make sure you are signing an offer letter for ALL the right reasons. Sure, if you know people who work for the new company and they can vouch for the culture, management and other important details about the company – that’s great. But, while it may be great for them, it may not be great for you.

I suggest you take inventory of ALL the things that matter the most to you and create a score card when faced with an important career decision to join a new company. Measure what matters as a whole – not just the income piece. Score categories in a score card as honestly as you can. Try this scorecard on each opportunity the next time you have to pull the trigger on a job offer:

New Opportunity Score Card

Category Score (1= Low 2=Good 3=Awesome)Culture
Career Progression(upward mobility)
Chemistry (with hiring manager and team)
Compensation (salary, bonus , benefits)
Work/Life Balance
References From Current Employees
Comfort Level w/ New Role
Gut Feel
TOTAL OPPORTUNITY SCORE

Create the categories that matter the most to you. However, do yourself a favor when evaluating a new opportunity. ALWAYS include the Four C’s – Culture, Career Progression, Chemistry and Compensation. If your score is close when measuring multiple opportunities – use the “gut feel” category as a tie-breaker. Your gut feel usually is a great barometer for big life decisions.

Always score each opportunity! You will be glad you did. Promise!

It’s NOT All About the Money

Looking for a new job is truly a full – time endeavor. You need to focus and have clear goals as to what you are looking for. The culture, the people and the person you will be reporting to all matter – as does the role you will have. That being said, it’s amazing to me that so many candidates still focus on the almighty dollar. Show me the money! Yep – you heard it. Finding the perfect gig for you should include checking ALL of the boxes – not just the compensation box.

Your value equation and how you are paid for your knowledge, experience, educational credentials all matter. I get that. What I don’t understand is when candidates try to make a career decision solely on the basis of increasing their W-2. To me there is a fine balance that you must have when weighing out a new opportunity. I suggest that candidates look at the entire opportunity. Stand back for a day or so and make sure you are signing an offer letter for ALL the right reasons. Sure, if you know people who work for the new company and they can vouch for the culture, management and other important details about the company – that’s great. But, while it may be great for them, it may not be great for you.

I suggest you take inventory of ALL the things that matter the most to you and create a score card when faced with an important career decision to join a new company. Measure what matters as a whole – not just the income piece. Score categories in a score card as honestly as you can. Try this scorecard on each opportunity the next time you have to pull the trigger on a job offer:

New Opportunity Score Card Category Score (1= Low 2=Good 3=Awesome)

 

 

New Opportunity Score Card

 

 

 

 

Create the categories that matter the most to you. However, do yourself a favor when evaluating a new opportunity. ALWAYS include the Four C’s – Culture, Career Progression, Chemistry and Compensation. If your score is close when measuring multiple opportunities – use the “gut feel” category as a tie-breaker. Your gut feel usually is a great barometer for big life decisions.

Always score each opportunity! You will be glad you did. Promise!

Budget Bonuses: Shoe Money

A few days ago I talked to a great HCIT candidate we’d placed years ago, just to catch up. We chatted – did the small talk thing for awhile – and finally got the real reason for the call. I knew it would eventually come out and boy, did it.

The conversation turned to compensation (as it does) and she told me about her deal. The base salary sounded fine when compared with her role and responsibility… and then I asked about her variable compensation or annual target bonus. There was a long pause, followed by (ok, me too) loud laughter at my question. “What bonus?!” she asked. “Oh, you mean my ‘shoe money’? Shoe money? She explained that for the past few years her company had decided to award small bonuses (i.e. $1,500-$2,000) at the end of the year. Her implication (which I get) was that after she pays taxes on the small amount of money, what’s left barely pays for a newly touted “staycation” or perhaps a trip to the shoe store to buy a few pairs of nice pumps.

• That’s it?!
• Are you kidding me?!
• C’mon – why bother?!

Unreal.
The company clearly needs to take a hard look at their compensation package and their 1% – 2% target annual bonus plan. It’s a little low for this hot market. It’s a plan that just sounds bad and will never keep and retain the best talent in the company. I can see it now: “Work hard and meet all of your objectives and I see a trip to the shoe store in your future.” Actually, they’d be better off not paying anything. How demoralizing. What a joke!

Retention is a very big deal in the markets we serve and the battle for talent is already here – that train has left the station. Find a way to keep great people or risk a void in your starting lineup. It’s not all about the money, either. People want to be rewarded for this hard work, but recognition, new and exciting challenges, teamwork, a great collegial culture also matter.

But getting back to the shoe-money…
What are your thoughts? Want the shoe money or should they just pass altogether? I would love to hear the opinions of the readers of HITT and…
I’d like to start with you Ms Darling.

Tell me how you really feel…. I already know you will!

What are You Worth?

Originally posted on Healthcare Informatics

I’m a huge Brian Tracy fan – always have been. I’m sure I’ve read a dozen or more of his books on motivation, and the human growth and potential we all have inside of us. It’s there. Trust me. In this ever changing HCIT market we live in today it’s probably a good idea to step back and assess our value and determine exactly what we bring to the table.

Sound fair? Let me do this with a story that Brian illustrates in his powerful book Focal Point.
So the story goes…Years ago a nuclear power plant had a malfunction that caused the entire plant to shut down its operations. This was costing millions of dollars a day in lost revenue and productivity. After several days, the plant engineers could not find the source of the problem and decided to call in an expert to assess the situation. The expert flew into town, arrived at the plant and put on a white jacket and went to work. He spent most of the day looking at the equipment at the plant, making various measurements and taking notes as he conducted his evaluation. Finally, at the end of the day, he crawled up a ladder took out a red marker from his pocket at placed a large X on a valve in the plant. “This is your problem he said. Replace this apparatus and your problem will be fixed”. He took off his jacket, walked to his rental car and drove back to the airport. The plant manager ordered the replacement apparatus and the engineers quickly installed it as soon as it arrived. Sure enough, the apparatus the expert drew the X next to was the problem. Soon, plant was back up and running at full capacity and the problem was solved.

A few days later the plant manager received a bill from the expert. The invoice simply stated “For Services Rendered – $10,000. The plant manager was shocked at the size of the bill. After all, he reasoned, the expert arrived, took a few measurements, made a few notes and placed a big X on the broken apparatus with his red marker. Surely their must have been a mistake in calculating his bill. He wrote a letter to the expert asking him to please itemize the bill since $10,000 seemed a bit excessive for the amount of time he spent at the plant. A few days later the plant manager received a new bill from the expert. He itemized the bill as follows:

For placing X on broken apparatus – $1.00

For knowing where to place the X – $9,999

Here’s the point. Your value equation in this space is increasing based on the knowledge you have in your HCIT niche and the shortage of people in the market that do what you do. It’s pure supply and demand. Companies will be competing for you, your talent and for what you know. And very soon… Make sure you understand what you are worth and begin thinking about where you place the X in your value and what you bring to the table.

You may be worth a lot more than you think.

“Peeling the Onion” on Compensation

To get to home plate on a search assignment we have to verify many aspects of a candidate’s past. One key item of course is compensation. On occasion I get feedback on the compensation question that creates uncertainty and doubt – or shall I say sometimes I just don’t understand the candidates’ math. Clients want to be competitive when making an offer and we need to have the baseline on the candidates’ current compensation package to craft an offer or make any recommendations to our client. It’s a fairly simple question – right?

The answers we sometimes get from candidates makes me want to stop and scratch my head. Some are worse than others. I once had a CIO candidate of a 160 bed facility explain to me that his base salary was between $175K and $250K + bonus. WHAT? That is a severe (wide) gap – like $75K. The salary is what it is. C’mon. He went on to tell me he preferred to give me a range on his salary as he did not want to put himself in a (compensation) “corner” and he wanted to see what the client would be offering before he was willing to give me an exact salary number.

Great – OK – thanks. I don’t get it.

There is plenty of sufficient CIO and CTO salary data that we recruiters use to benchmark where the market is – including by geography. It is a colossal waste of everyone’s time to play games with what should be a fairly straightforward question and answer. I do understand that 95% of the professionals reading this piece DO NOT operate that way. It is worth taking note that more and more facilities are using current salary data and comparing that to industry data when formulating an offer. So the next time a search firm asks the question – just understand that they will be peeling back the onion a bit to validate your answer.

It puts me in tears just thinking about it

I Quit! Actually I need a Raise…

I never try to discourage candidates from getting the very best compensation package they can negotiate. Really! I want every candidate that my firm works with to get THE best overall salary, bonus and other perks available to them. Period. What I take issue with is how some candidates choose to get what they want at the expense of others involved.

It’s the classic scenario where the candidate is very much engaged in the search process, shows up for all of the requisite interviews and completes each and every task along the way that we require as part of our search process. I mean we really invest a significant amount of time in vetting candidates and do whatever we can to ensure that we have demonstrated all of the reasons we feel a particular candidate is qualified and should be seriously considered for the job. The offer finally makes its way to me and before I send the offer to a candidate I always present a verbal offer to make sure I communicate all of the details verbally in advance of just sending the document via e-mail or overnight mail. It gives me a chance to gauge the candidate’s reaction to the offer and their immediate response is usually a fairly good indicator of their willingness to accept the offer – or not.

What drives me insane is once we (all) go through a fairly lengthy process to naturally bring things to closure something strange happens. A conversation might go something like this:

“Tim, I appreciate everything you have done for me in this search but I need more time to think this over”. “You appreciate the time…WHAT? Think what over? Later, I find out that behind the scenes, Mr. or Ms. Wonderful decided to take things into their own hands and use my offer to gain a better deal in their current company by resigning their current role. Now that’s a bit slimy…

My clients invest serious cycles in a search process and so do we! We go though all of this and this happens? Are you kidding me? Yes – it does happen (although it’s rare). Just when you figure it out what’s happened – you realize that the candidate is on the verge of making a major career mistake that will haunt them as long as they work for their current company. Once a candidate decides to use another offer to resign and have their current employer come back with a better deal – the game (for them) is over.

What they may not understand is that once they resign they have sent a loud signal to their employer that they must be very unhappy to go to this extreme. Also, they are no longer considered to be a loyal employee and their actions will definitely have an impact on their career moving forward. Yes…this includes promotions and raises! Most savvy employers will wish them well and never give into this sort of financial blackmail. Just wish them well – but show them the door!

The probability for those that resign and then decide to stay is very high that they will leave (or be asked to leave) within a year or so anyway. This charade is a colossal waste of time for all parties involved. It hurts just writing about it!

Can we change the subject now? Thank you!