Dear Aunty B,
I recently got caught out telling a white lie about staff salaries. One of the members of my sales team has a base salary that is significantly more than two others I hired at the same time and at the same level.
I believed at the time that this bloke would hit the fast track (although now I am not sure.) He also was talking to another firm at the time and I wanted to nab him.
He is a boasting type of bloke and told the rest of the team what he is on. The problem is I told one of the sales guys that they were all hired on roughly the same salary and it would be a race to the top.
This has caused discontent and, as one of my staff told me, distrust. Any ideas how to diffuse the situation?
(In my defence it wasn’t really a white lie: I had intended to increase the base salaries making them more equitable as soon as I could, but the team didn’t meet its targets.)
Look no further than PM Kevin Rudd. Just this morning Rudd has kindly provided us with a white lie manual. Rudd says he cancelled a dinner with Brian Burke because he felt uncomfortable. But rather than simply saying he would not be attending, his minders say he decided to “diplomatically use a logistical reason to explain his cancellation”.
This was his excuse: “I am really sorry to do this but I am being stuffed around a bit by DFAT… sorry to do this – out of my hands.”
BL, you could try this: “I am really sorry he is earning more than you but I am being stuffed around by you not meeting your targets… sorry to do this – out of my hands.”
Seriously BL, you have a problem. To put it frankly, you have pooed in your own nest. As the boss you have the right to hire whom you like on whatever salary you want. Where you stuffed up is in discussing salary at all with others in the team.
You also need to admit to yourself that hiring The Boaster is a mistake.
Did you hire him and pay him a high base salary because of evidence that he can sell – or because he told you he can sell and someone else wanted to hire him? Sales people are good at selling themselves – so always look for evidence they get results before hiring them.
Where to from here? Pull in The Boaster and tell him he is not meeting expectations. Tell him that because he has caused this unrest and he is not meeting budget, you are dropping his base salary so it is commensurate with the others. However he can make up the difference with commissions, as can the others.
Make sure you have in place very clear targets and that the team is very clear on whom they are targeting, what they are selling and the results you are expecting.
Then rev them all up with a bit of team building.
Be prepared, you might lose The Boaster. But that might not be a bad thing in the long run.
Hope that helps,
Your Aunty B.