A company's compensation philosophy is their plan for how employees will be paid. It often includes a matrix for base pay, how the matrix is determined and what factors are involved when considering adjusting an employees rate of pay. They may include bonuses and benefits - but more often than not, a compensation philosophy is a part of a bigger, total compensation strategy. Things like profitability, market competitiveness, industry and size all play a part in a company's pay strategy.
Jordan's company does not have a set salary review process/timeline that is actively communicated to it's employees. He knows that his performance is reviewed in the early summer (usually June), but a review of his pay is not a guarantee. We learned his first year with them, that it's his job to approach his manager about a request for an increase in pay, and be able to be very clear about why he thinks that's what he should earn.
It's not transparent, and it's difficult - but over the years (and my HR background), we've developed strategies that garner increases in pay for Jordan year after year. None of these conversation tools would work, if he wasn't excellent at his job, always seeking out increased responsibilities and being an asset of his workplace.
To have a conversation about your salary with your manager, you first need to have a really clear picture about your performance. I don't mean what you tell your buddies, or your mom - I mean you have to know if you would give you a raise. If you are a top performer or an under performer. If you really don't know, I would guess your the latter - or just really not self-aware. Consider asking yourself the following questions to gauge yourself:
- Do you show up to work on time?
- Do you ever disappoint your colleagues or your supervisor? Even if they don't tell you, you can see it on their faces.
- Do you have to be asked to complete the same task, or for a status update on a task, over and over again?
- Do you get regular praise for a job well done? If you don't, either your not telling people what you do well, or not doing things well - either that or you have a crappy boss which is a whole different topic.
- Do you enjoy what you do? If you don't, I would bet that others know it.
- Since your last performance review, did you take the feedback you were given and actively work to improve?
This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it may help you align your thoughts around your own performance.
Once you have a sense of your performance, you must do some market research - don't count on your management team to tell you the going rate for your job in the industry. This is usually the part that people struggle with the most - they have no idea what they should be paid, just a desire to be paid more. Well I'm afraid folks, that a desire is not enough - you must have facts.
When doing this type of research, you must remember your particular skill set, experience, education and credentials - not too mention industry. All of these factors weigh in on your marketability.
In the coming days, I'll continue with some market research sources and some of the data I've come up with for Jordan.