When it comes to negotiating salary, we’ve already discussed a few tips for success.
But, what happens when you’re the law firm manager who is negotiating with your own associates?
How do you appropriately react to associates who are seeking alternative employment?
In the throws of negotiation, it’s important to appear objective, firm, and fair—even if these emotions do not reflect reality. Negotiation is not a battle. Succesful leaders support each member of their team, sincerely wishing them well, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their career or pending departure.
Pocket Your Emotions
Whether during performance reviews or mid-year bonus talks, if your associates reveal the fact that they are considering a career change, stay calm and supportive.
It may be that replacing this employee will not only be difficult, it would be impossible! Or, perhaps your firm put in many training hours and dollars into this particular person. Your initial reaction may be fear, defense, or even anger.
Try to remember, though, that employees are prone to keeping their options open.
And, the best way for a valued employee to negotiate a higher salary is to get offers from outside firms. Allow your associates to maintain this competitive edge—after all, isn’t resourcefulness a part of what makes exceptional law firm professionals?
Ask Them What They Want
So, now that you know an employee is considering his or her options, why do you think that is?
Ask your employee to explain their decisionmaking process. Are they looking for a bump in compensation? Is it the commute, or time demands? Are they stimulated enough in the workplace?
Whatever the reason, it’s not only important for retaining this valued employee, but it will also likely give you insight to the desires of other employees at your firm.
If one person is unhappy with your family benefits package, he or she is probably not alone in this sentiment. Or, if one person feels overworked and underappreciated, it may be time to shedule a team-building retreat or mandatory vacation days for all.
The best opportunity for honest feedback that will open doors at your firm is while one person is shutting them.
If no amount of money or promotion will convince this specific individual to stay, you can at least avoid a mass exodus by improving workplace policy and routine for those associates who remain based on frank review and conversation with your departing soldier.
Ask Yourself What You Want
Finally, ask yourself, what is best for you and your firm?
If this employee is irreplaceable, consider ceding to his demands. Only accept terms that will leave both parties grateful, as opposed to resentful.
However, ask yourself if agreeing to an employee’s negotiated demands won’t just patch a bigger problem. Retaining an associate who holds that much negotiating power may mean your firm hasn’t diversified its staff adequately.
It’s unlikely that just one person is right for any job.
And, with the law industry super-saturated with job seekers, you should calculate the true costs of losing an experienced associate and replacing them with a cheaper, more trainable one.
At the same time, employees expect to advance in the workplace. The excuse of a “recession-based budget” will only fly so long at your firm. Eventually, you’ll have to replace either the excuses or your departing associates.
Whatever decisions your employee and your firm makes in the end, understand that the process isn’t personal. In business, unlike battle, negotiating to a win-win compromise is always best—and lasting—for both sides.