Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

Entries Comments

Month: February, 2007

Salary Increase Request

25 February, 2007 (20:03) | Compensation, Employee Retention | By: Administrator

Occasionally one of your team members will come up to you and ask you for a salary increase. What approach do you use to address this situation? Let’s check in with Joe and Wanda to get their thoughts.

Joe Kerr: First thing I do is stall. I ask the person to set up a meeting with my admin. Then I tell my admin not to set up a meeting for at least 2 more weeks. If the meeting does get scheduled, I make sure I miss it due to a last minute conflict. I then ask the person to reschedule. Hopefully it blows over. Just in case I’m dealing with a persistent one, I try to dig up something negative on the person. I don’t typically take any notes, but I have a great memory for that sort of thing. Maybe the person didn’t finish a project on time, or came up short in some other way. I find it’s good to have things like that in the back pocket. I like to pop them when people are telling me how wonderful they are. It brings them right back down to earth.

Wanda B. Goode: I try to be proactive. I let people know that they can talk to me any time about compensation, but they are typically reluctant to take me up on it. So, I like to have salary reviews with team members, especially when times are tough. This sets expectations and avoids surprises. In any event, when someone wants to talk about an increase, I quickly set up a time to meet with them. It’s a very important topic to most people. Delays are not appreciated. In the meeting I explain the factors that affect pay in my company and where the person stacks up against those factors. I review the person’s compensation history and give him/her an idea of what to expect in the near and distant future with the understanding that things could certainly change. I find that although team members may not always like what they hear, they appreciate the open sharing of the salary decision process and how they are impacted by it.


Listening Skills

18 February, 2007 (11:06) | Communication, Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

Most would agree that we could all benefit if we did a little more listening and a lot less talking. Let’s get the views of Joe and Wanda on the topic.

Joe Kerr: I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I say there’s been far too much emphasis placed on “listening skills” in recent years. Let’s face it, if my employees had such great ideas, they wouldn’t be my employees. I’d be reporting to them! Sure I try to humor them a bit, feigning interest to let them think I’m listening, but I can’t tell you the last time I benefited from listening to one of my direct reports, my peers, or even my boss for that matter. 

Wanda B. Goode: I know I don’t listen as well as I should, but I am working to improve. The team members have great ideas. I try to help them bring their ideas out by creating an atmosphere where their opinions are valued.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the constant interruptions of the day-to-day. When I’m in a meeting, regardless of the size or location, I limit potential distractions and focus on listening to what others have to say. I ensure the phone is off. I don’t read mail or send text messages. I concentrate on what is being said.

I resist the urge to speak unless it is to probe further, or to summarize what I think I heard in order to verify my understanding. I try not to offer my own solutions unless my help is requested. Too often people are focused on coming up with what they want to say next rather than focusing on listening. That was a tough habit for me to break. I now make a concerted effort to speak only when I have something of value to contribute.

The results to date have been impressive. We’ve implemented some recommended process improvements. Team members are engaged, and productivity has improved as a result.

Workplace Romance

4 February, 2007 (16:41) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

We’re coming up on the holiday of Love – Valentine’s Day. What better time is there to talk about romance in the workplace? Let’s check in with Joe and Wanda to get their thoughts on the topic.

Joe Kerr: Ever since I became a manager it’s been my dream to hook up with my admin. Happens all the time, right? Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened for me yet. These sexual harassment laws haven’t exactly made things any easier for me either. 

Wanda B. Goode: Some companies have fraternization policies. If so, I’d encourage sharing the policy with team members when they join. My company doesn’t have a policy, but even if we did, I don’t think it would change my approach much.

First, I acknowledge the fact that relationships happen. People spend so much time in the office that they are inevitable. One thing I can control, though, is me! Anyone in my management chain – above or below – is absolutely off limits. That’s the easy part.

When I come across an instance with someone on the team, I address it swiftly. I talk to the individual(s) that report to me and let them know the difficulties that can result. It can interfere with the job. Break-ups can really cause problems. I let them know that if disruptions occur, transfers may be required. Getting the couple thinking about these things early on helps avoid some pitfalls and sets expectations for possible corrective action. If difficulties do arise, I make sure to get my HR department involved.