Money, Money, Money – Is Talking About Pay a Good or Bad Idea?

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

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They caught my attention in the hall as I passed two colleagues chatting and overheard the question, “How big was yours?” The question was about the latest round of pay increases.

The first question raised a different series of follow-on questions for me: Is everyone sharing pay information? Is that good? Is it ok to do that? The short answers to all of the second set of questions are: Maybe, Sometimes, and Probably.

Almost all of the rules in today’s workplace are changing. In some cases, what was taboo just a few years ago is either widely held now or in the transition of being accepted. Discussion about pay is in the murky category of “in transition”. So should you make announcements about pay or not? It’s complicated, but if you do talk about pay with your coworkers, be on red alert. Sharing pay numbers could get you in trouble or come back to haunt you. Sharing pay numbers could also illustrate to you that you are not being paid equitably for the work that you perform and lead to a raise. Lots of women are finding this out the hard way. Before you start the dance of, “This is how much I make, how much do you make?” here are a few questions to consider.

  • Can you ever make enough money? If you feel like you are being paid fairly, is there any thing to gain from sharing? If you love what you do, will pay have a bearing on your satisfaction? In general, the research says no. Comparing could lead to lots of emotions about money and its role in your career.
  • Are discussions about pay all about bragging or complaining? There is not much in between bragging or complaining. Boasting about a big increase could alienate your colleagues. Complaining about pay could alienate people too. It is rare when someone share, “here is my pay and I am satisfied with it”
  • What is the company policy? Although the law here can be murky and vague, some organizations have an explicit policy that information about pay should not be shared. A 2011 survey from the Institute for Women’s Policy Researchfound that about half of workers “report that the discussion of wage and salary information is either discouraged or prohibited and/or could lead to punishment.” Some organizations have the policy in place although it may be illegal. Check your local employment law experts to determine what is legal and not.

More questions than answers but the big unknown remains – is it a good idea to discuss with coworkers how much you make? Answer is, probably not. First, people in similar jobs can make different amounts based on experience, skills and tenure. Comparing salaries is not always apples to apples. Second, the entire sharing experience can be toxic and wasteful, to you and the organization. Most organizations are pretty good at paying within the accepted range of a particular job. Organizations do not want to over or under pay and will adjust according to market rates and you should understand the thinking behind your pay. Third, if you think you are underpaid, you can get a sense of your pay through career sites or professional organizations, without having to ask a colleague.

Almost every organization has the legendary story of someone leaving the list of all salaries inadvertently on the copying machine. The resultant storm of activity lasts for a few days, some adjustments might be made but usually, not much changes. We recognize that people in similar jobs can have different salaries based on experience, tenure or other factors.

In the end, sometimes it is probably just not possible to meet everyone’s salary needs regardless of whether or not all pay numbers are well known. At that point you have a decision to make about staying or not. And remember, as the wise man on the mountain said, “The fastest way to give yourself a raise is to work less”.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Sam72

7 Signals That Someone Is About to Quit

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

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When it comes to career categories full of people who are prone to quitting, few can match either consulting or high tech. Since I spent the bulk of my career in those two worlds, I’ve learned a few things about resignations along the way.

The reasons why people are apt to quit consulting and high tech are well-documented. In the world of consulting the reason is often too much travel. As any road warrior knows, business travel can be interesting in the beginning but it gets old very fast. Not to mention how it cuts into the social life of a young person. Then there is the pressure of billable time and the stress of project completion. As one young person told me when she was quitting, “There are easier ways to earn a living.”

The high tech world is full of people quitting because those same people have so many opportunities. Where there are lots of choices for more money, there is lots of quitting.

Having accepted so many resignations, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way. Here are just a few:

  • If someone wants to meet on a Friday afternoon and says, “It will only take five minutes,” assume that person is about to quit. It’s better not to wait until Friday; get it over with.
  • Team engagement can be measured in the number of emails sent. Anyone with email production that drops in a big way is losing interest and will quit soon.
  • Anyone who does not want to participate in interviewing candidatesmeans they don’t want to try to sell someone on an organization they will soon be leaving. It won’t be long.
  • When family and personal photos start to disappear gradually from the workspace, a letter of resignation will soon follow.
  • The person who takes “personal time off” but never for an entire day is probably interviewing. That is the colleague who takes half days off or says, “I am going to be a little late” is not long for his or her current work world.
  • Those people standing in the hall or the bathroom on their cellphone may not be chatting with Mom. The call might be an iPhone interview. (But could also be a sign they are ending a relationship, which might be even worse.)
  • Absence from the company holiday party or annual picnic might not be that important, but it could mean too that a quitter is developing. Or maybe not.

Of course, there are some very definitive signals that leave no doubt about imminent departures. Spouse transfers and winning lottery tickets might be the top two.

I’ve learned too that if someone quits, it is useless to try to talk that person into staying. In many ways a resignation is like a romantic breakup. When your boyfriend or girlfriend says, “I don’t love you anymore,” responding with “Yes you do!” doesn’t make a lot of sense. The same is true in a resignation situation.

The first time I resigned from a job I was a nervous wreck. My speech was prepared, and I went into the resignation meeting with a list of things that needed to be done after I left. It was like a list you would hand a neighbor when you’re about to go on vacation. There was no need, I left and, shockingly, they did just fine without me.

There is no disgrace in submitting a resignation. It happens a million times every day. Make it a short meeting, don’t look back, don’t burn any bridges, and get excited about the next big thing.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? When Email is Not Enough

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

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How often do we hear people describing and complaining about the volume of emails in the inbox? A number I hear often is 200 per day. Ouch. That is not a contest I want to win.

Anyone who is dealing with that many emails is: 1. Probably sending out too many messages and that’s why so many are coming back, and 2. Spending all day draining email instead of working on more productive activiites. Not good. Sure, email is an incredible communications tool and can increase productivity 24/7. We are addicted and I admit, I am an email junkie. We are so accustomed to it that we look for nuances and are prone to adding complexity to it. A simple addition of a punctuation mark, or clicking on BOLD or italic or a carefully placed CC can strike fear or joy.

But there is another element to email that is pervasive and hurting organizations – email is too easy. It is so much easier to send an email than to engage with someone in a real up close and personal interaction. Part of the joy of work, we are taught, is the sense of colleagueship and the relationships we build.

Can we get to know colleagues through email alone? Probably not.

A meaningful career is not derived from the number of emails we send or receive.

Instead of sending an email to the guy in the office next to you, say hello. When people talk to each other and know each other and innovation is more likely to happen. Imagine if the Beatles had sent emails to each other.

The alternatives are not altogether appealing. No one I know wants to attend more meetings, and conference calls are in that same category. At least with conference calls we hear voices and can detect accents or emotions that help us understand others a little more.

Email allows us to multitask in complicated ways. Email allows us to work at home. Email allows us to communicate with many all at once. (One organization I know sent layoff notices through email. It was a long email and probably could have been one word: UNFORTUNATELY.) Email is the enabler of today’s work world.

We are learning to be even more efficient by sending ever-shorter messages. Email has become like Twitter – the shorter the better. One colleague of mine would respond to emails with cryptic responses like TL;NR (Too Long; Not Read) or WTF (What the Heck)

Once a relationship is firmly established, email can work in more effective ways. I can send an email to my children and although it may be short, they know I love them.

I am not suggesting at all that any one abandon email. I am saying that email alone is not enough to build an organization. Emails don’t get invited to birthday parties or show up at the Friday afternoon beer bust. Go make some friends at the coffee machine.

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