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Managing Salary Expectations

Whether you are negotiating with a new employee or conducting an annual review with someone already on your staff, sooner or later the conversation turns to money. According to a survey of 13,500 random visitors, 65% of respondents said they are looking for a new job within the next three months. Of those, 57% say they are looking because they believe they are underpaid. Even more interesting is that when compared with the firm’s market data on similar positions, only 19% of the group is actually underpaid; 17% appear to be overpaid, and 34% are fairly compensated. In other words, perception and expectations about salary compensation are not always accurate.

When it comes to managing salary expectations for finance professionals, a little preparation goes a long way:

Look at the Market: Have updated and reliable market data for each position on your team from peer organizations. Know how your compensation offer compares. If you are paying less, be prepared to explain why and how other aspects of your organization bridge the gap. The SNI Companies Salary Guide is great resource for current, relevant salary information for finance professionals.

Talk to Your Peers: Get an understanding what other departments within your organization are offering as far as salaries, increases, and other incentives. It is difficult to defend holding the line on minimal raises or salary demands when other parts of your organization are exceeding the boundaries your department has set.

Consider the Person: Conduct an assessment of the specific person. Take a look at their current value and how their future contributions will benefit you and your organization. It is important not to let personality or emotions enter your assessment. You need to look at each person as a resource.

Once you have done your homework the next step is to make certain that you communicate clearly and assertively. It helps to do this early in the process - that way neither party is surprised or feels mislead. In an attempt to seem “nice” reviewers are often not as direct as needed in salary discussions. It benefits you, and the person with whom you are speaking, to make sure there is no confusion about what you have to offer.

Salary discussions are challenging, especially when you can’t give the person all they are seeking. However, doing your homework and making a fair offer - backed with clear and direct communication - is the best way to ensure that your candidates and employees feel respected, informed, and fairly compensated.