Q: A valued and talented member of my team has come to me twice in the past six months saying that he has been offered jobs with rival firms.
I wanted to keep hold of him, and already planned to give him a pay rise, so the first time, I offered to match the salary he'd been promised. The second time, I told him we couldn't afford to pay him more but gave him the go-ahead to work on a project he'd been angling after. Now, he's come to me again with another rival offer, but I'm suspicious.
A: I understand your suspicion, but you must be careful not to let it harden into deep distrust. If he's young and talented and mobile, it's perfectly possible that he has had three quite attractive job offers over the past six months or so. He'd see it as a no-brainer to try and turn those offers to his advantage: and why not?
So rather than beginning to feel pressurised, you need to work out quite coolly just what he's worth to you - not forgetting to calculate any internal damage that might be done if his salary got out of line with the rest of his group. (Always assume that pay levels will be known.) If his latest demand exceeds your top limit, politely reject it. If it matches it, grant it gracefully. Then, without reproach, make it clear that any further increase will depend on increased responsibility.