I can’t estimate how much comp data I reviewed the past 10 years: benchmark, benchmark, benchmark, and individual comp in mass.
A lot of names as well, but I’m terrible at names – I put sticky notes on the colleagues next to me so I can act like a decent person. But behind all people there is a number, and I remember numbers.
Growth vs Salary
One of the numbers I remember was 480k. That’s 480,000 Swedish kronor. This was the salary of a young talent that had worked for us for 5 months. She wanted to talk about compensation, like many employees in similar situations.
“I could earn 30% more if I change job today! It isn’t fair, I’m not asking for extravagance – just my market value.”
She wanted to know my opinion on her situation, and since this is a common enquiry I was able to give a fairly generic explanation:
“As controversial as this might sound, I’d say that those who land at the higher end didn’t choose to maximize their income in every given time of their life. Whereas, those who land in the lower salary bracket maximized their income from the outset.
To give you more context, landing at the higher end of the scale often comes over time, for people who prioritize growth and development as part of a longer-term career plan. Whereas those who concentrate on salary from the beginning of their working life, and jumping between different jobs to get the best salary at the time, tend to plateau, with less scope for growth further down the line.”
My answer helped her to consider longer term comp goals, but there are many times when a generic answer is not enough. And even in this case the answer was actually a prompt to a new way of thinking and different types of conversations with her manager.
Bespoke answers on compensation
One reason I never get tired of my job is that the people and situations (whether I remember their names or not) are always unique.
There are often situations where a generic reply will answer the immediate question but also act as a thought starter for a wider topic.
Me and my team often debate how to support HR/managers in their comp decisions. We have to help them understand the generic answers, but also direct them towards the managerial tools such as active listening and feedback loops to be able to provide a more in-depth and bespoke explanation and support.
At the end of the day, when it comes to C&B, each individual should realise that they’re compensated fairly in relation to their contribution, experience and market value.