ASK ME ANYTHING - Self set salaries
ASK ME ANYTHING:
For almost 4 weeks now our new website is up and running. We feel together we are building a real community to make work more fun! We could not wish for more. Now we are adding an extra topic to our forum. AMA aka Ask Me Anything.
So why not kick off with one of our own stories we get a lot of questions about. Four months ago after an internship of one year, Pim and Joost offered me a job at Corporate Rebels. In true rebel style, they did not tell me what I was going to earn and this was also not a negotiation between us. No, it was up to me to decide what I should earn. So-called self-set salary.
Quite a challenge but very rewarding!
ASK ME ANYTHING in the comments below 👇🏼
Thanks for your question! First of all no, I was not scared. I was excited and happy to take on the challenge. Yes it was hard at some points. And especially in the beginning as talking about money can be a bit awkward. So to answer your question , I feel the hardest thing was realising that there is still a gap in salaries for men and women. One part of my journey in deciding my salary was doing a online check to see what people of my age and in my sort of work earn. After filling all my details I was given two numbers: one next to a pink puppet and the other next to a blue (male) one. As if that wasn't bad enough, the next day I realised I had - without questioning - taken up the female amount.
I did a share of my research online. We have sites where you can check what somebody your age and with what experience earns. Aside from that I had a look at the financials within Corporate Rebels. I asked myself of the money that came in how much I was responsible for. And I also looked at what my colleagues earn. With al of this information I came up with a number I felt fit at this point. Hope this answers you question. Let me know if you have anymore!
I can imagine that for many it is hard to do this, especially for the first time. I believe it helped a lot that Ellen was already part of our company during her intership. She learned a lot about our culture before having to do this.
At the same time, I believe from our perspective - as founders - it's important to make sure that our advice is not taken as a decision. There might be a tendency to do that, and stressing that our advice is just advice is absolutely vital.
Thanks for your question.
Bottom line: No nobody officially approves the number. Once I had said the number I came up with that was my salary. But because we use the advice process the number should not come as a surprise. You see after getting insights into all the financials of the company and my own research I had a chat with Pim and Joost and explained my thinking. I shared my own research with them my list of tasks I did and how I felt I did them. I asked them if they felt I was missing anything and how they felt I did on certain tasks. With all that information I decided my salary I decided what I felt I was worth for the company at this moment. Told Pim and Joost what I had come to.
Asking too much may seem easy, the thing is though I feel you have to live up to the number. If I feel I am worth a lot more than the others I would have to prove that. Another important point is as I know all the finances and even their salary I got more of a feeling what would make sense.
Maybe Joost and Pim have anything to add to this?
I see. That is certainly much more sophisticated than just haggling for a raise.
But if you called the process you described "salary negotiation" that would be reasonable too. A negotiation to which you must come much well prepared.
The point is: what if you didn't heed their "advice" and asked for more? Or what if you don't live up to that amount? Would you be fired? Would you just be made "uncomfortable" by peer-pressure?
If others would like to chime in too...
It's not a negotiation, because we don't negotiate.
Ellen could have ignored our advice and set it higher or lower than for example I would have advised. That's the idea of the "advice process". See other posts on our blog on more info on that.
As with any group of people there's peer pressure (especially because everything is transparent, also salaries). So yes, you probably will feel uncomfortable if you set an absurdly high salary. Which is good cause it makes you do sensible things.
We believe that if you trust people they'll do the right thing. So far, no issues. So also no reason to set up a process to fix an issue that's not there.
Thank you for sharing the process (what you did, how you felt about it).
From the comments I get the feeling that "self-set salary" is not the appropriate label.
You were offered a job, and then you collected all the information you believed relevant to arrive at a salary which you were able to substantiate in the context of your experience/contribution/financial situation/salaries of your colleagues.
This information is simply "out there", and if you did a good job to find it — and it certainly seems you did — then you arrive at a certain salary-bandwidth which you are able to defend (substantiate) for yourself.
The actual "setting" of your salary within this bandwidth may ultimately correlate with your determination/inspiration/motivation, and a real gain of this process may be that 1) you have a firm baseline which you can use when your contributions to the organisation increase, and 2) that you have linked your salary to your contributions, and not to your presence. It has, I assume, become clear to you you are "earning" your salary, and not "receiving" it. (This is not really well phrased, but perhaps you get what I fail to put into words here).
A "self-substantiated salary" may a better label.
It sounds like a great and valuable exercise, and also as something that is not really scalable. In this context I find Freitag's solution very sympathetic.
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