Five ground rules of job offer negotiations

Five ground rules of job offer negotiations

As companies and candidates enter a fresh hiring season in 2020, the time will come where both parties stand at the door of a potential new partnership – arguably the most fragile period of the hiring process. 

At this stage, when both have clearly indicated their interest in working together, there are certain rules of engagement that must be considered by both to ensure that neither snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, a leadership expert has said.

“After the screening and interview processes are complete, sealing the deal becomes a delicate dance where both employer and candidate must push for the best deal for themselves, without losing the goodwill established to date and possibly, jinxing the entire thing,” said Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, the CEO of Jack Hammer, an African independent executive search firm. 

In her book, Inside the Interview, she shared insights and advice based on her decades-long experience as an executive search expert focusing on the sourcing and placement of top talent across the globe.
 Goodman-Bhyat said that the best time for candidates to negotiate for the best possible offer is at the point where the prospective employer has indicated that they’re keen to make one in order to get the candidate on board.

 “However, candidates need to bear in mind that just because the company has said (it is) interested, doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. So it’s really important to keep a balance between what you want, and not frustrating them or creating tensions over the negotiations,” she said.
 Because, if candidates overplay their hand, they risk turning off an employer who was ready to make a decent offer, and may potentially lose out on what could have been a smart, strategic career move.
 “If there are elements of the offer that you’re not happy with, now’s the time to voice your concerns and ask for what you really want. It’s all a very delicate balancing act, not to be underestimated,” said Goodman-Bhyat.

 She said that search consultants often acted as a filter between the candidate and the employer, so that neither party comes across as too aggressive, too grabby or greedy, too demanding or too stingy.
 But for candidates and companies without the advantage of search support, there are a few pointers to guide them through the treacherous waters of final negotiations, said Goodman-Bhyat.
1. Understand all elements of the package
 “There might be some hidden benefits that aren’t evident at first glance that make all the difference between an average offer and an excellent one, so make sure that you are comparing apples with apples. Know your net figures (the amount of money that you receive in your bank account each month) and the value of the benefits you’ll be receiving. 
Compare them with what you have on the table. Just because the net cash is the same or marginally less than your current package does not necessarily mean that it’s a bad offer,” she said.
2. Negotiate all elements of the package at once
 “Don’t ask for an increase on the base package, then for the number of days leave and after that for an allowance for further studies.
 “Because each time, the people who are handling the contract changes will most likely have to motivate to several different stakeholders, making it a tiresome and irritating.
 “Thoughts like: ‘Does this candidate want the offer or not?’ or ‘Again! Are you kidding me?’ are typically what will happen behind the scenes in this kind of scenario. HR professionals frown upon constantly going back and forth to motivate for more money or changes to the benefits after an offer has been approved internally,” said Goodman-Bhyat.
3. Substantially motivate the request for more money
 “You’ll need to motivate why you think you deserve more money,” she said. 
“One reason could be that you expect an increase on your current package at your current employer. Another could be that you believe you’ll be generating X value for the company and believe you are worth more.
 “But also try to gain insights into the remuneration policy at the company. Organisations really don’t like to increase packages beyond the salary band for a certain level of employee. So, you may need to keep within the range (albeit at the top), but then ask for something else instead.”

1. Understand candidates will want to match or increase salary
 “Start out with an expectation that any candidate who joins your company is going to want to earn at least the same, but preferably more than what she’s currently earning,” said Goodman-Bhyat.
 “Exceptions to this are situations where the candidate’s last package was significantly higher than what is market related, for instance where her previous company made a silly offer to get the candidate to come across or to take her out of the market. 
“Explaining this to the candidate and motivating for your case in a balanced way is important. Candidates typically think that all employers are trying to pay them the least amount of money possible. You’ll need to explain that you want to pay fair value for skills and incentivise for excellence,” she said.
2. Ensure they understand the entire package
 “Don’t just look at the cash portion. You need to be on top of all the benefits included in the package, including non-financial ones.
 “When it comes to putting an offer on the table, you may be able to compensate for a lower base package increase if you have other benefits to offer that the candidate doesn’t have currently.
 “The hiring process is a time-consuming, costly and often exhausting process, both for the company and the candidate. Finding the fit is intensive work. If one does reach that stage where a future relationship appears to be a win-win one, care must be taken-both by the company and candidate – to ensure a fair agreement. Failure to do so can come at the unnecessary cost of what could have been a great hire for the company or a wise move for the candidate,” concluded Goodman-Bhyat
How multi-generational diversity affects productivity in the workplace

How multi-generational diversity affects productivity in the workplace

Managing teams consisting of different generations is a growing challenge for leaders, but if this challenge is not constructively and proactively addressed, it can have a substantial negative impact on affected employees and ultimately the organisation.

“As more and more people put off retirement until later, whether by choice or necessity, we now have multiple generations represented in the workforce, who need to be able to work in harmony despite differing life experience and attitudes, behaviours and expectations,” said Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, a leadership strategist and founder of Jack Hammer.

She said that despite the mandatory retirement age, people in general are working until they are much older, whether it be in permanent, formal or consulting/part-time capacities. This means that the staff complement in organisations is now much more likely to consist of people of all ages.

With the result that more than before, leaders are required to lead multi-generational teams, which include so-called pre-boomers, baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y (also referred to as millennials) – a situation which predictably can give rise to conflict.

Goodman-Bhyat said that although every good leader in a South African organisation is expected to be sensitive and responsive to issues relating to gender and racial diversity, putting issues relating to multi-generational diversity on the back-burner can prove a costly mistake.

“The biggest challenge in managing multi-generational teams is as a result of the differences in values, priorities, motivations and approaches to work of team members. How this manifests is in simple things like work tenure is that the younger generations are likely to change jobs every few years to achieve the variety, breadth of scope and opportunity to try new things that they value highly.

“The older generation has a different value system. They see the short tenure and frequent moves as a lack of commitment, loyalty and staying power, and rate a potential candidate’s suitability for a job based on their own values.”

She said until recently it has been the older generation that was firmly in the leadership seat. But with the oldest millennial aged 39, the younger generation is increasingly starting to manage businesses and people.

“Challenges related to generational differences can manifest in much bigger conflicts, particularly around work style, engagement and leadership. Absent perspective and insight into the different value systems, and competing priorities and values at leadership levels, multi-generational workforces can find it tough to work together,” said Goodman-Bhyat.

“Think about it like parenting. If the parents are not on the same page, the kids will run wild, play one up against the other and take advantage of their weaknesses. We now have people in management with different sets of values and views of the world. They are required to effectively lead teams made up of multiple generations. This kind of incoherence can be unsettling for people and can result in toxic work cultures that lead to reduced productivity and reduced engagement, which ultimately impacts on a company’s culture and its bottom line.”

But the good news is that in South Africa, managers are for the most part well-positioned to deal with a multi-generational workforce, because managing other kinds of diversity is already core to their working reality.

“Leaders may already have some experience in dealing with conflicts that can arise. At the very least, most professionals will have a level of consciousness and awareness about issues related to diversity. 

“However, inter-generational issues in the workplace haven’t been given as much attention and energy as other areas of difference and diversity. As a result of being left behind in the shadows, there is often background friction manifesting in toxic behaviours that undermine and discriminate unfairly.”

It is, therefore, essential that this area of diversity management should also be given due attention, she said.
“If the ultimate goal is a cohesive, productive environment, the strategy for managing generational diversity is nothing new. Firstly, it requires recognition of the issue and its potential consequences if left untended. Then, the approach must be to ask questions, listen and seek to understand.

“Recognise your own culture or values bias when you start making judgements about someone based on their generation or age. These days, we’re all hyper aware of the biases and consequent judgements we make due to gender or racial diversity; generational diversity is the next area for serious attention.” Goodman-Bhyat concluded.

Supplied by Meropa Communications on behalf of Jack Hammer
The battle of gender equality in leadership continues

The battle of gender equality in leadership continues

THE year so far has been a good one for South African companies on the gender transformation front, with statistics seemingly moving in the right direction for the first time in recent history and notable appointments of women to top leadership positions.

The good news stories are not the full picture, however, as too many companies still battle to make meaningful and sustainable change in the gender make-up of their top leadership teams, an expert said. “The appointment of two black women to the CEO positions of two heavyweight South African companies was a noteworthy demonstration of corporate South Africa’s commitment to gender transformation. This is positive news, particularly in light of statistics that show women landing 52% of senior leadership roles in 2018, overtaking men for the first time since 2015,” says Advaita Naidoo, the chief operations officer at Jack Hammer.

Given the fact that the data further showed that 2018 was not an outlier, with appointments of women consistently rising year on year from 26% in 2015 to 32% (2016), 38% (2017) and ultimately 52% last year, the perception might be that the transformation item on the to-do list of companies is now truly ticked. “Unfortunately, although the big picture looks positive, the devil is still there in the detail and we are seeing too many companies still struggling to find great female leaders for their top teams despite their best intentions and desire to do so,” she said.

“Make no mistake, the commitment is there, but when it comes to execution, many companies are still wide of the mark. In particular, when you look at their leadership pipeline, the odds that they will be in a position to appoint a woman in one of their most senior positions are still way too slim.” Naidoo says there are two indicators of a company’s potential to effect meaningful gender transformation, namely having women in strategically influential executive roles, as well as strong female representation at non-executive board level.

“To use a sports metaphor – you can’t score runs if you don’t swing the bat. Translated, this means that if companies are truly motivated to try to shift the needle on the gender demographic when it comes to CEO and senior supporting roles, they have to start populating their executive teams with a sufficient number of women in relevant roles. In other words, don’t wait until a position opens up to start searching for the leader. Instead, make sure you have the leaders lined up and ready to step in when the position opens,” she said.

“So, companies that are serious about gender transformation, yet find themselves continuously flailing and struggling to make the changes they desire, have to ensure that they start actively sourcing and appointing women to critical profit-and-loss core business roles, as well as board positions.” Naidoo said the standard concern of companies is that there is an insufficient number of women at executive levels for consideration to the top role. Global data supports this contention, showing an average 70:30 male-to-female ratio at senior executive levels.

“If you then take a closer look at the roles that the women are occupying, you find that there are far fewer who are running a full-scale business division. “There are only a few roles that are likely internal succession potential from executive level to CEO. And if you don’t have women in these positions, then the likelihood of women even making it to the short list of internal succession candidates for the CEO position is minimal.” Naidoo said the era of making gender-transformed appointments for the sake of doing so should be a thing of the past.

“There is ample evidence to support the business case for gender transformation and there is great talent out there. Increasing diversity in leadership is not rocket science, it is simply a matter of vision and strategy, and getting your ducks in a row well before you are required to act.”

Issued by Meropa Communications on behalf of Jack Hammer

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