How would you handle a situation where a direct might come to you and complain about their salary being lower in comparison to a less productive/less valuable team member?

I've inherited some lesser performers on my team who make bloated salaries.

It's quite conceivable this information could leak out and alienate/piss-off other members.

It's not appropriate to get sucked into comparative money discussions, right?

And how can you really enforce a rule that directs should not be sharing their compensation information?

Camby's picture

ok, so it's legal to discuss it. that's fine. my boss told me to discourage them from talking, which to me seems like it would make my directs even more curious.

in any case, my real concern is just how to handle pushback if/when they want to engage in a comparative discussion with me... the whole "why do i make less than so and so..."

Gazman's picture

Despite the fact that it usually leads to unhappiness, and has an unsettling effect in general, people will talk about what they earn.

My approach is 1.) Be open about the fact that for a number of reasons people earn different salaries but say that I can't discuss what other people earn. 2.) Encourage them to focus on their own performance as that is how they will be able to justify the sort of salary they feel they merit.

rdlybeck's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

 I too have the same instructions from HR about encouraging employees not to discuss pay. However, it does happen and my response is spot on with GAZMAN's advice.

I will add one point. I have had it happen twice this year after HR administered a technical market increase to all employees where two employees due to a typo did not receive their full increase.

I would not have known about this other than they were talking with other employees and then came asking me why they didn't get their full increase.


Ryan D. Lybeck

DISC: 6711

acao162's picture

Our salaries are public knowledge so there is no "hiding" how much each person is making.  The truth is, as a manager, I'm not about to justify rates of pay.  I remind my staff that each person is rated according to the jobs they do & are paid within a range for their work.

Do I sometimes "get it wrong" and overpay a poor performer (or inherit one?)?  Absolutely.  Every so often, I hand out a nice raise, thinking current performance will continue & it drops off.  So, I "fix it" in the next go-round - poor performer gets no raise or is asked to leave.  Good performer gets bigger raise.

I have an honest conversation with each individual about how he can improve his rate of pay.  It isn't about how "Joe" is doing, it is about how YOU are doing.  If you want to make $XX, you need to do A) B) C) by the next review cycle, or you can expect no raise.

Does this solve all my problems, grumping or otherwise? No.  People will talk.  They will think that a secretary isn't "worth as much" as a building maintenance person. The organization determines the range, I simply pay within it.  If you don't like your classification (and its rate of pay) my suggestion is to get new training and a new position within the organization.