Winning the Pay Negotiation


By Neal Glatt

The best way to stop employees from resenting their pay and demanding a raise is to diffuse the situation well in advance.  It requires planning and foresight, but an employee compensation chart, or Path to Growth, can make all the difference.  Here’s what it looks like, what to consider, and how to utilize it to keep employee pay in check and help them grow at the same time.

A good Path to Growth will provide upward mobility for employees who want to earn more money and develop their skills.  A sample is provided below, although there are nearly a dozen more positions not shown.  At each level, the pay raise (and other applicable benefits) are shown for each position.  In addition, the hard skills, required experience, and behavioral values that are expected are shown.

When this is shown to employees upon starting with the company and at each formal review, progress can be discussed against a clear metric.  It is specific enough to generate the outcomes the company needs but flexible enough to allow for observational, qualitative feedback from supervisors.

When creating this type of document, I always start by creating two lists.  First, I ask what the best employees in a given role demonstrate on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  What makes them so good?  Then, I ask what the worst employee in a given role does.  Why are they so detrimental?  From these lists, it starts to become more clear what is valued and good at each company.

I’ll arrange the values, skills, and experience across a spectrum of pay rates that line up with the current budget and market prices.  At each step, it’s important to show a significant amount of improvement with a substantial increase in price, but I also work to allow for quick wins to prevent a feeling of stagnation.  Ideally, good employees will earn incremental raises or benefits every 6 to 12 months as they are leveling up their work ability.

The language used for each of the behaviors and skills will change from company to company as they all have a unique culture.  For companies with established missions and values, that language should inform these choices.  If you’re not sure what your company values should be, you’ll want to check out this course on GrowTheBench to help you along the way.

There is no doubt that this type of undertaking takes a lot of work and regular revisions, but for companies who successfully implement the tool, there is never a hostage wage negotiation.  Everyone understands where they stand, what to do in order to get to the next level (and pay), and employees are continually progressing in their growth, creating a fun and winning atmosphere.  If you need help getting started, feel free to email us at and we’d be happy to help.

Tags: Growth , Pay , Employee , Raise ,