3 Simple Steps to Avoid Fighting With Hiring Managers Over Pay

Even though they are our daily bread and butter, recruiting and hiring remain very inefficient and time consuming processes. Because they take so much of our time and involve so many people, just the idea of making improvements feels stressful. And so we push on and on, ducking “eleventh-hour” calls and wrangling with managers and recruiters about our salary recommendations.

Think you have the worst time of it? The Harvard Business Review reports, “Most companies react to hiring situations as emergencies; that might explain why so many do it so poorly.” The HBR article goes on to provide great insights, so check it out.

In the meantime, want a quick, easy aid to simplify the situation TODAY? Here’s where I’m going — not a root cause analysis, but a tactic than anyone can benefit from. Short communications suited to the your three connection points with managers during hiring and/or repricings. The goal of these communications are PROCESS transparency, not training. If you use them consistently, especially in smaller companies, they’ll not only help you avoid many misunderstandings that add extra time and confusion to the process, but they’ll also build your reputation as a fair and reliable decision-maker who treats employees/managers without favoritism.

When you receive a request

Follow-up with a (pre-written, off-the-shelf) email that summarizes the steps that you will follow. This will assure managers that you will take the time to follow a standardized process, involve him/her at key points and build trust in your expertise. Managers are often confused why “Compensation needs this information, isn’t it just about numbers?” So preempt that reaction.

Cover the following points and make it no longer than two paragraphs or bullet lists. To be serious about building trust, don’t forget to send it every time or choose specific occasions to skip this step.

  •  Define the optimal outcome of the process, for example: “Pay that will attract, retain and reward high-performing employees throughout our organization and help us build a culture that rewards results through collaboration.”
  • Explain that the best salary insight comes from making distinctions between jobs as well as understanding their similarities. This may be a surprise to many managers.
  • Identify the value of in-depth insight into the job, for example: “The job description is only the beginning. I need to understand the outcomes that you need the individual to contribute to your organization now, and in the next two years, so that our talent investment shows results.”
  • Learn what makes an optimal candidate, for example: The go/no go employee attributes/skills/experience you should work from; what your competitors look for and how your company description should differentiate from competitors.

What if the manager already has a candidate? Use this same communication since it covers the information you’ll need to do a good pricing.

What if it really is a rush job, in spite of your best efforts? Send the same communication and use it to negotiate with the manager about the limitations you are facing.

When you move into job pricing

This email is similar in format, to reinforce the message that you have a standardized approach.

  • Indicate that your approach will be to find data on a job that has a near-identical profile and you will match, to the extent possible, with industry practices; pay rates in your geographic area; pay rates for a company your size. No matter what survey you end up using, these factors go into the data analysis, so it’s worth briefing the manager up front.
  • Reflect on the way your company obtains survey data, for example if you have access to a national database.
  • Remind them how you will use your current salary structure or internal equity practices.
  • Add a few Qs and As that cover the questions that you typically get from managers about the data retrieval and analysis.

Before you propose a salary

Use the email approach to:

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  • Describe what you will present to the manager (e.g. target salary or salary range, or something else).
  • Remind them of the approval process.
  • Advise them about when they can mention salary figures to candidates.

Notice: The information you’ll provide are process guidelines that keep managers aware of what is going on — a solid strategy since the salary data means so much to them. These communications also demonstrate your belief in their leadership abilities and your commitment to giving their candidate/employee a fair deal. However, in no case do you have to (or should you) list proprietary information like the surveys used, competitor data or actual salary recommendations in these emails.

One standardized approach to each and every recruiting case — sounds easier to me.

This article originally published on Compensation Café.