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Human Resources

I let an employee know we would not be revisiting their sales commission plan mid year. They threatened to start looking for another job. How does one respond to that

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By seeking to understand, with empathy, and by asking the right questions. I find it helpful to create a safe space for people to articulate their concerns without fear of retaliation (also builds trust), but being friendly/firm enough that they understand that the way to achieve their ask is not to make demands and threats, but to work with leadership to address the concern. I can’t stand the old school “my way or the highway” HR approach that we see all too often in our discipline.

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It all depends on the reason for not revisiting commission/not increasing salary. If the company is not in a place financially to make any comp adjustments and you’ve communicated that to the employee, then their response is unreasonable/reactive/childish. I would in that case let them know that looking for a new role is their prerogative but as you’ve outlined the reason for not revisiting their comp is based on company financial considerations which are (most likely) due to the global economic crisis. If the reason is because they’re not performing, then their manager should have a conversation with them about how they’re not meeting expectations- that shouldn’t fall on HR.

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If you haven’t asked, maybe digging into why they want to revisit might be a better convo. Something is probably going on at home financially to make them get extreme. Also, if they threaten to look, then they are usually already looking and close to having another job. How key is this person to the biz?

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I would lead with facts of the decision (is that standard at your company, is it due to current market conditions, due to their performance,etc). If it’s not common at your company, I would understand why they feel it’s warranted or why they expected it. I think being transparent on the reasons is the best. Maybe something else is going that you can address. I personally hate when people threaten to leave in situations like this. Shows they don’t see the long term potential if their role that they are willing to burn bridges by continuing to push or make threats. Or it gives the impression they think they can push people around to get what they want. At the end of the day, the market isn’t very good right now (depending on industry) and they might not be able to just find another job. I’d tell them good luck 🙂

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Bump base salary if an employee is a top performer or start recruiting if they are not.

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Honestly, I usually say “Look, I’m an HR. If you leave, I’ll find your replacement, that’s what they pay me for. So instead of threatening me that I’ll have to do my job, I would recommend you to focus on analyzing why your manager should be interested in retaining you, and presenting those arguments to them.”

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Thanks all for sharing your experiences and approach. So grateful for this community.

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