An Improvisational Mindset as a Guide to Salary NegotiationAs some may know, I’ve spent the past 10 years leading two lives.. Professionally speaking. One leading an applied improvisation practice (Improv-Alive), and the other, a technical recruiting practice (DyNexus Recruiting & Staffing) One thing I know for sure is this: of all the topics that can blow-up a potentially positive hire, conflicting views on salary is one of the top deal-killers. It’s important for both the hirer and the candidate to view the compensation negotiation process as a collaborative effort rather than a competitive one.
There’s a concept that was born in the world of improv-acting called the ‘Improvisational Mindset’. When applied to the business of salary negotiation, it’s a simple way to make this unavoidable conversation one that serves to drive progress rather than conflict. An Improvisational Mindset helps you, when interacting with others, to find a positive starting point and build on it, rather than take your position and support/defend it. You want a negotiation on salary to be a collaborative conversation, and not a competitive one.
Here’s an example of common landmine that can come up during the hiring process, and how an Improvisational Mindset can make the interviewing and negotiating process more effective.
Many, many times, hirers are quick to adopt the mindset that a candidate shouldn’t get more than a (X)% increase in pay from their last job. This position is common amongst hirers, partly because they often feel that it’s “negotiating”, and can end up saving them money if the candidate accepts. However, is that actually a fact? Does acting within this mindset really bring additional value to the hiring company?
When you consider the financial investment involved in hiring and onboarding a new employee and the risk you are taking that this person you just hired might be anything other than smart, decent, productive and loyal, and you weigh that against the potential gain of hiring an employee who, on day one, is happy to be here and grateful to his new company for paying him what the market considers a fair wage; is it really worth it for you to engage from a mindset that has you positioning for a better deal at your potential employee’s expense, as your first serious interaction with her?
Let’s do the numbers to find out: Take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle, dividing the page in half. On the left-hand side, figure how much money you safe or lose at the end of 1 year when you hire a candidate at $10K below fair market value and that candidate generates as much as the weakest link on you team is generating for your company at the end of one year. Now, on the other side of the page, figure how much money you gain or lose when you hire a candidate at fair market value and that candidate generates as much as the strongest link on your team is generating for your company after one year. Now, look at these two numbers.. Which one is better for your bottom line?
An Improvisational Mindset in this case might have you considering where the candidate is coming from. For example, that candidate may very well be leaving a company that was vastly underpaying him or her, and their whole reason for considering joining your company is to be paid what the market is bearing for someone of her caliber and experience.
So, if long-term loyalty is what you want from your employees, you may see this shift in thought as your investment in a positive, respectful beginning of a relationship (Improvisational Mindset), rather than the chance to keep an extra several thousand bucks in payroll (Me VS. You).
It takes a shift in point-of-view, and some courage to adopt an Improvisational Mindset, but it’s effective, and contagious! Plus, you may find the challenge to be one that spurs growth both as a professional and as a person living on the earth.
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