Thought Leadership Blog

The HRS Thought Leadership Blog delivers validated findings, visionary perspectives and op/ed commentaries related to HR, Leadership, Organizational Development and Employment Law. To enjoy the full volume of available articles, please enter topic keywords in the search box to explore our body of work. Articles are regularly presented by the HRS team and guest experts.


Don’t Be Fooled by Salary Negotiation Strategies Generated by the Unemployed: 6 Rules to Success

Countless unemployed individuals with plenty of time to write are emerging again with salary negotiation strategies.  While it is true that strategies should change with market conditions, in many cases, negotiation should disappear completely. While many form their viewpoint based upon experiences with one or a few employers which eventually “outplaced” them, our analysis is based upon statistical knowledge working with thousands of preferred employers plus extraordinary research concerning hundreds of thousands over three decades and adapted to present conditions.

The following is a proven 6-rule blueprint to getting the most from “employers of choice.”  Sure, there are plenty of bad bosses and exploitative companies out there who do not follow appropriate protocol. However, if you are a candidate worthy of a top employer, ignore what happens at substandard employers and subscribe to what works at top companies.

Rule #1:  Top employers offer compensation based upon compensable factors, internal/external equities and merit-based performance proven within the organization.  For top employers, the base compensation component is non-negotiable at organizational entry, except possibly at C-level. 

Rule #2: Top employers do not pay you for what you did for someone else, but rather what you will do for them.  Success in one environment is not necessarily transferable to another.  Top employers know this.  Top employers also know that overall organizational development is optimized by practices which favor merit advancement from within.

Rule #3: Top employers request salary histories up front not to set your pay accordingly but rather to evaluate equities and expectations before continuing the very costly pre-employment screening process. Failure to provide history when requested risks indication of unwillingness/inability to follow direction and/or indication of something to hide.

Rule #4: Salary negotiation is effective in a very limited sector. It can be effective only when handled correctly and in cases where the job description requires heavy amounts of negotiation implementation. Time, place and audience are paramount.  Don’t be the first to bring up money, and don’t wait too long after money is mentioned to reveal that your requirements are higher.  Attach compensation requests to your delivery of quantifiable results to the new employer.  “I respect that the company has valued this position based upon specific metrics and expected outcomes.  Based upon my history of success, extraordinary knowledge and my determination to succeed, I expect to deliver outcomes beyond those benchmarks.  Is there opportunity for me to share in those financial successes? Can we set my quotas higher?”

Rule #5: Attempting negotiation risks the entire deal. It expresses discontent with the company’s existing practices and with the immediate job.  Just as a counteroffer constitutes an offer rejection, negotiation of any types constitutes rejection of the “as is” opportunity. There is usually another candidate right behind you who is appreciative of the opportunity to earn rewards without staunch demands.

Rule #6: If the relationship begins with negotiation, expect that you have set the tone for continued negotiation.  Rather than being awarded what you have earned, expect that you shall need to always negotiate for it.   The best way to avoid constant negotiation with your company as an “opponent” rather than a “teammate” is to negotiate all at once a gain-sharing program with pre-determined financial rewards for the outcomes and results you facilitate.

When an offer is presented, please know that taking time to consider may risk the opportunity.  Some companies will volunteer a proposed timeframe for your decision. Many will not. It is a myth that immediate acceptance makes you look “desperate.”  Actually, failure to immediately accept makes you look “hesitant” and possibly “disinterested,” either of which can immediately sandbag the relationship. If you believe it is best to take time to consider, state your unwavering interest up front.  Consider a safe explanation of the rationale behind your decision delay.  If the screening process was thorough and involved multiple steps, you should have entered the offer stage ready to accept if offered.  Your questions should already be answered and your interest should not falter.

Company cost control, lifelong learning, succession planning and sustainability are key organizational goals.  Age discrimination can be a factor, and advancement from within is typically a preference.  Employers are reluctant to pay you for what you did for someone else, because too many over time have “rested on laurels.” Employers typically have more leverage than employees in this situation.  Know your power. Evaluate the dynamics of your specific situation and reject “cookie cutter” advice. 

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, November 29, 2010

 





Leadership Challenges: Sales vs. Substance

Repeatedly validated by survey and experience, a top reason for resignation is lack of confidence in one’s supervisor.   Leaders attempt to blend “sales” with “substance” sometimes mutually exclusively.  Sales training experts suddenly become experts in leadership training and confusion begins.

Make no mistake... sales skills facilitate success everywhere!  Most certainly one can’t effectively lead unless someone is willing to follow, and that takes salesmanship.  Without substance, however, leaders may lead down a dark alley into a brick wall or down an unfortunate path.  Too often we see managers who are all sales or all substance, severely lacking in one of the two. 

It is most definitely an organizational development issue to decide your employer brand in creating the right proportionality of “sales” vs. “substance” in the leadership team.   That decision creates a blueprint for hiring, development, advancement and the entire performance management system.   Employers with strong labor intensity rely upon the right people doing the right things at all times.   In this case, substance actually becomes more important than sales.  The key word here is “right.”   Employees who have substance are likely to recognize and respect substance in leadership, and successes can be attained.  In the less labor intensive environment, (e.g. quick training, high automation, low competition and/or low impact of human error), leader salesmanship may be a higher priority.   

Too often we see managerial candidates sell themselves into positions for which they are not qualified.  The salesmanship is sometimes so intense, it conceals the absence of substance.  Credentials aren’t checked.  Pre-employment assessment isn’t administered.  Lifelong learning doesn’t always happen.  Blame-shifting can wrongfully and frequently replace engagement.  When these folks are empowered, employees of “substance” tend to leave the system. 

Be careful as to whom you’ve empowered.  The highly “sales” driven manager lacking “substance” can be quite a gatekeeper, sometimes keeping the good ones down… or out.     


Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, February 17, 2009

 





Will the New Administration Fix It?

With the trilogy control of Presidency, House and Senate by the Democrats, we have “thrown the keys” to a single party and allowed them to “fix it.” 

 

For the good of our economy -- and quite frankly our wellness -- the backstabbing, blame-shifting and treasonous undermining of our leadership must cease.  Please think twice before resorting to the same ol’ same ol’ belly-aching that has undermined hope and destroyed confident spending over the past 8 years.

 

We certainly must question the legitimacy of employee free choice actually existing within the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, and we must think globally, creating work ethic policies that allow the US the ability to compete globally while building positive relationships.  Let's set an example of diplomacy and respectful disagreement in doing so.  Perhaps we can understand that by regularly skewering the important leaders in our country, we jeopardize ability to attract top talent. 

We can be empassioned without being destructive.  We must discontinue behavior which has adversely affected new generations and created current economic downfalls.  We can think twice before "bailing out" employers not likely to thrive and reinvest into our economy.  We must stop blaming all CEOs for the greed of a few.  We must remember and embrace "free enterprise."  We must rreat the USA with appreciative inquiry.
 
Politically, let me be one of many to say passionately advise our current administration “You’ve got the keys, now FIX IT!”  The world is watching with anticipation.  Every citizen also has a role and a responsibility in "fixing it."  It is most certainly a team effort!


Jessica Ollenburg - Friday, November 28, 2008

 





Election Debate: Impact of CEO Salaries on the Economy

It is most certainly an organizational development question to determine the take home pay of top executives.  We can similarly discuss the high compensation for entertainment celebrities and sports athletes.  As CEOs can create jobs, impact work-life and stimulate the economy, we should safeguard salaries to CEOs proportionate to their results at such – as we need to attract top talent there!    
 

While CEO “greed” is certainly alive and well, it finds many exceptions and is not necessarily a direct fallout of tax breaks.  In fact, taxation needn’t have substantial impact on executive salaries at all.  Wherever you find a greedy CEO, you find a CEO who will take whatever s/he can regardless of net profit impact.  Compensation in any US company can be more a factor of supply, demand, job retention and market conditions than anything else. 

 

Tax breaks are intended to lure corporate behavior likely to create net positive impact on the economy.  These incentives are used to create jobs, stimulate economic spending and increase the many other taxation opportunities which fund our government.  Tax breaks to “big oil companies” could be considered in exchange for actions that heal the economy, such as the lowering of fuel costs to the public.  With proper structure and surrounding conditions, this tax break could provide a positive net economic impact.  Additional discussion on this point is well summarized at this CNN article.   While we need to avoid tax incentives as “currency” to special interest group and campaign fundraising, let’s keep the discussion focused on the “how” and “why” we propose tax breaks.  Let's also consider the individual taxes paid on salaries, personal spending and economic impact of the personal investments of CEOs.  Without that language, we haven’t enough information to comment. 

 

As a CEO who does not practice greed, I think and behave like many CEOs who think as shareholders, and I choose to protect company value, the supporting team/infrastructure and my future as the CEO.  CEOs are accountable to the shareholders.  These strategies are the subject of board meetings and MBA programs.  CEOs in large companies may have the shelf life of a pro football player, and if we want to attract top talent to these economy-driving opportunities, as a country we may choose to offer a large incentive package, again proportionate to results.  Where publicly traded companies may wish to empower a “celebrity” CEO to drive shareholder confidence, CEOs must be lured from one high paying opportunity to a higher paying opportunity.  Done well, this creates overall positive economic impact.

 

With the pyramid shape of a large company, competition abounds.  Power and high compensation are fragile here as many others are grooming and gunning for your spot.  If you don’t move up, you move out.  Once at the top, it’s far too easy to get pushed off that pedestal.  This may be career ending as experience isn’t entirely transferable and few companies wish to pay you for what you did for someone else.   

 

If you don’t believe the disconnect between corporate taxes and CEO salary, then spend a little time researching the high CEO salaries of the many giant companies who post annual fiscal losses – yielding no income taxes paid to the government. 

 

Anyone who has studied business in depth knows these principles to be true.  The United States needs first and foremost a President who inspires confidence.  It concerns me – no, disappoints me – that a political party would use lack of education as a weapon against the very sector of our population that it pledges to represent – and protect.  Less education can be a fallout of less financial resources – the people the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, professes to support.  So why make such wittingly false claims to the people you represent?  I love Democratic ideals and am a centrist at heart.  I tend to agree with Republican fiscal policies.  I tend to vote Republican because I believe in the foundation American principles of capitalism.  I believe the answer lies neither at extreme left nor extreme right.  I have specific ideals and blueprints for action.  I support the working people.  I support people who work as hard, and even not necessarily as hard, as I do.  I refuse to support those who don’t do their best and look for a payout due to some sense of entitlement.  There is no such entitlement.  If you don’t believe me, look up “free enterprise,” the backbone of US principles in business.

 

 


Jessica Ollenburg - Saturday, September 27, 2008