Reviewing a Talented, Restless Employee

Review Time: You Don’t Want to Lose Him, but You Can’t Give Him a Promotion and You Can’t give Him a Raise. What Are Your Options?

You’re the manager of a small team working for a small to mid-sized company. Neither you, nor your boss, nor your shareholders want the company to stay small for long. But right now, that’s the way things are. You hire on a just-in-time basis only when your existing staff is maxed out, and you’re shrewd in your salary negotiations. You have to be. Even though you want the best talent, your margins are simply too narrow for you to overpay your employees, no matter how much value they offer.

This skinflint philosophy can work well for a small and growing company…until the day it doesn’t. What happens when your most valuable team members get restless and start looking around for new opportunities, opportunities you simply can’t afford to offer them? How do you conduct a review for a talented employee who’s ready for a raise you can’t provide? And what if your star is ready to accept a higher level of responsibility, but there’s simply nowhere for her to climb?

Reviewing Restless and Talented Employees

1. First, be diplomatic. You’re the one who has something to lose during this process, so measure your words. You don’t need to beg the employee to stay. But in certain sense, you do. Work together with HR and upper management to take stock of your potential offerings (no matter how meager) before you come to the table. When the right moment arrives, offer them with style. Be nice.

2. Second, do your research. The employee may argue for a raise based on industry standards and market value. Know exactly how correct her claims are and are not. Back up your statements with documented facts. And keep clear records on her performance metrics in case they become an issue. (They will.) emPerform can help you gather and aggregate all of this data before the meeting begins.

3. Third, you may be surprised at what your employee will accept in lieu of a pay raise. Leave nothing off the table. Maybe they would respond to an offer of more flexible hours, a more impressive title, or an easy-to-implement change in her working conditions. If they wants any of these things, then by all means hand them over. Just don’t let them sign on with your competitors until you’ve done everything you can to keep your stars on your team.