Hiring Salary

Don’t tell me your salary

As a hiring manager, I’ll ask how much are you expecting in terms of salary for the positions that we are hiring for.

This is standard practice and you will see this question in one form or another through the interview process

In some states in the United States, if you ask, I am required to provide you with a range, but for most companies, as of 2020, the salary range is kept hidden to candidates.

If you have not done a lot of research on the subject and the company, it is always best to avoid that question like the plague!

Recommended reading on negotiation

How to avoid giving a salary?

The easiest way is to ask right away what is the range being offered for the position and location. Most hiring managers will have that information handy, or the ability to get it for you.

With a range, you can then decide as to whether you would like to continue with the process.

If pushed, you can try to delay giving the information. Depending on where in the process you are, you can say that you are not ready to talk about salary until you know more about the company.

Just be mindful that you won’t always get a range or have the ability to delay the conversation.

To be ready, let’s move to our research phase.

If I must provide a salary? researching salaries

As mentioned above, if possible, get the company to show their hand first.

but be prepared to still have to provide them with a number or at least a range for what you would be comfortable with.

Lucky for you, most salary information is out there so that you have a good idea of what you are getting into.

Sites such as Glassdoor, Ziprecruiter, Payscale, and LinkedIn are a great start for your initial investigation into a potential salary for your position.

Social media is another great place for information, spreadsheets are going around where individuals will post their current company, along with their salary information and location.

Knowing the market rate, or even the possible rates for your specific company, you are now ready to provide them with a number if pushed for.

Anchoring the desired salary

The theme so far has been to get the company to show their hand, this way you know what you are getting into.

When that is not possible, we want to utilize a strategy called “Anchoring” to our advantage.

The idea is simple, whatever number you provide will be used as the base of the negotiation later on.

For example, let’s assume that you mentioned 100,000 USD as your desired salary. As the hiring manager, I’ll base a possible offer starting with your 100,000 USD and moving either up or down from it depending on the salary I can pay.

A better strategy is to provide a range. The same anchoring concept applies, but you open yourself up to the possibility of negotiating up when the actual offer comes through.

With the salary range option, the lower number is the “anchor” the hiring manager will most likely use during his process, so make the lower number your desired salary

Negotiating a salary

You have done all of the above and are now given an official offer, usually with a deadline for a reply.

First, congratulations! both you and the company think you are a good match for each other.

Do not say yes just yet, since your initial offer will most likely be made via phone, video, or in person. Here is what you need to do to increase your chances of getting an even better offer.

  • Thank them for the opportunity
  • Say that you would like to review the opportunity with your loved ones – yes, this could be your pet or even your neighbor, the idea is to buy time.
  • Go home and craft an email to be sent the next day asking for more

Sounds simple, right? it is simple but is not easy. Your feelings and your gut will constantly tell you to just accept the offer.

You made it through their process and they want y0u, why bother negotiating?

Well, the answer is simple as well, a higher initial salary means more money in your pocket now, a higher salary a year from now when you get a raise, a higher bonus, etc.

Even better, all it will cost you is getting over the fear of asking for more, so go ahead and send that email.

For the most part, as hiring managers, we have the flexibility to go up by a small percentage from the first number we give you. The worst that could happen is that we say no to your counteroffer.

So best of luck, avoid giving a number first, do your research, and always ask for more.

Follow up on the subject with a pair of incredible books

Recommended reading on negotiation
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management Team building

Check your team’s pulse

Imagine yourself as the sparkling new manager of a team, like any good manager, you listen attentively, trying to learn anything and everything there is to know about your team.

You set up one on one meetings, embed yourself in your team’s processes, and get to know all stakeholders personally.

All great initial steps for your first 90 days, but is that enough? can we determine if there is trust within your team? do you know if they have all the tools they need? can you figure this out consistently? Can you devise a team-building strategy?

Next, I’ll introduce a consistent, simple, and proven technique to get a good hold of your team’s pulse, allowing you to plan accordingly to meet your team’s needs and expectations.

Introducing – the survey

Surveys have been around for a while, and they tend to stick around because they are excellent tools to gather information consistently, allowing for anonymity when desired, and being useful to visualize changes over time by running the same survey at given time intervals.

The surveys I am about to present came from different sources.

I used books such as

As well as my own experiences in various managerial roles.

I aimed to get a pulse at the company level, drilling down to the team level, and lastly to the individual, which resulted in 3 different surveys being created.

Workplace survey

The first survey covers the state of the workplace.

12 questions should be studied in blocks of 3 questions at a time.

Each 3 question block is meant to build on the following 3 questions, in other words, if we find that we are doing bad on any 3 question block, the earliest block is the one we need to concentrate our efforts before we try to fix any of the subsequent blocks.

Think of each set of 3 questions as a step in a pyramid, with the first step being the base for everything else.

Company basics

The first set of questions will surface if your team knows what they are supposed to do, have been given the materials they need, and if they are working on what they enjoy.

All statements receive a rank from 1 to 5, where 5 denotes strong agreement with the statement

  • I know what is expected of me at work
  • I have the materials and equipment to do my work right
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day

Care for the individual

We now move from the basics to the individual. We want to know if we are caring enough that it is noticeable. People don’t stay at jobs where they don’t feel appreciated.

  • In the last 7 days, I have received recognition or praise for a job well done
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development


While the prior questions focused on a top-down view of the individual, this set of questions try to get the story of how the individual perceives their contributions are being received, as well their alignment with the company’s mission.

  • At work, my opinions seem to count
  • The mission and purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important
  • My associates are committed to doing quality work

Personal growth

The last set of questions is about growing as a person. Understanding that maturing with us is a winning proposition for everyone.

  • I have a best friend at work
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow

Team survey

Our team survey is mostly based on the 5 dysfunctions of a team, and similar to the workplace survey, we group the questions in such a way that we can get answers to very specific needs.

We are ranking statements from 1 to 5 as well, with 5 determining strong agreement.

Absence of trust

Trust leads to excellent teamwork, open communication, and probably more important, actually looking forward to working with your team.

The statements to surface absence of trust are as follows

  • Team members quickly apologize when they do something damaging to the team
  • Team members openly admit their weakness and mistakes
  • Team members know about one another personal lives and are comfortable discussing them

Fear of conflict

This section is all about ensuring that we don’t ignore controversial topics, that all opinions and perspectives are heard, and that no time is wasted in interpersonal risk management (appearing to be something we are not)

  • Team members are passionate and unguarded in their discussion of issues
  • Team meetings are compelling and not boring
  • During team meetings, the most important, and difficult, issues are put on the table and resolved

Lack of commitment

Not suffering from lack of commitment means that we have clarity around the direction and priorities for the team.

As well as being aligned around a common objective and having the ability to change direction without hesitation or guilt.

  • Team members know what their peers are working on and how they contribute to the collective of the team
  • Team members leave meetings confident that their peers are completely committed to the decision that was agreed on, even if there was initial disagreement
  • Team members end discussions with clear and specific resolutions and calls to action

Avoidance of accountability

Accountability aims to improve performance. Peer pressure, while not politically correct, maintains a high standard of performance for any team.

If your team suffers from avoidance of accountability, some proven techniques include increasing pair programming efforts, surfacing goals and standards, and constantly reviewing your progress against them.

  • Team members call out one another deficiencies or unproductive behaviors
  • Team members are deeply concerned about the prospect of letting down their peers
  • Team members challenge one another about their plans and approaches

Inattention to results

When we care about something other than the collective goals of the group, it becomes very difficult to show meaningful results.

We must be careful about what a celebration looks like, think about the reasons for Wikipedia to be so successful. It has nothing to do with money or status, and everything to do with buy-in and passion for knowledge.

With that said, if your team suffers from inattention to results, some proven techniques include committing publicly to specific results and celebrating your achievements.

  • Team members willingly make sacrifices (such as taking on support) for the good of the team
  • Morale is significantly affected by the failure to achieve team goals
  • Team members are slow to seek credit for their contributions but quick to point out those of others

Individual autonomy survey

The individual survey is all about autonomy.

Using Carrots and sticks to influence behavior has been very effective to get performance gains on work that already has a predetermined solution.

Think of work that you could put in a to-do list, and requires mostly effort, and not thinking, to complete it.

In other words, when the solution is known and we just have to implement it, carrots and sticks work extremely well.

Carrots and sticks, however, has been proven to decrease performance on any type of work that requires any amount of thinking and creativity

A good presentation on the subject can be watched here

How do you achieve performance, results, and keep people happy if rewards and punishment are ineffective?

You allow for autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

The prior surveys already touched on mastery and purpose, so I am concentrating on knowing how much autonomy the team has to perform their work.

  • How much autonomy do you have over your tasks
  • How much autonomy do you have over your time
  • How much autonomy do you have over who you work with
  • How much autonomy do you have over your technique

To close up on autonomy, an easy way to think about it is

do not micromanage and lead with questions.

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management Time management

My managerial framework

When I first started as a manager, I didn’t have a role model, classes, or even a good list of books to read and learn about management.

I made a lot of mistakes (sorry everyone that worked for me then) but I also learned a ton in the process.

Next, I’ll introduce a very simple framework that has helped me tremendously over my career

Keystone habits 

I first learned about keystone habits by reading the power of habit.

Since this is not a blog post about book summaries, I’ll leave you the homework of reading it on your own.

The key takeaway for me was that not only could I engage in life-changing habits, but that I could help my teams do great by introducing keystone habits

For example, introducing a test-first mindset has done wonders for my teams, while calendar blocks is another keystone habit that has significantly reduced interruptions for everyone I have worked with.

Team accountability over personal accountability 

I brought this from my military days, where every action we take can cost my partner’s life.

Since we are all accountable not only for our work but for each other’s, I celebrate team accomplishments over individual ones.

When mistakes happen, I look at them as opportunities to learn and improve on as a team, after all, nothing happens in a vacuum. That engineer you think introduced the bug was let down by a lot of people.

Starting with their fellow engineers for not picking up on the error or pairing more, the product team for not clarifying the requirements, the manager for not providing enough learning resources, infrastructure for not having a good way to deploy without releasing.

I could go on but the point is that holding the team accountable will yield much better results than any individual accountability system could.

Time management over working late 

After doing 12 hour days, working on weekends, skipping on vacation time, and not seeing any actual gains from it, I realized that time management was one of those keystone habits that I needed to introduce everywhere I went.

The premise is simple, work on time blocks and ruthlessly prioritize what goes into those time blocks.

Blocking time removes distractions, forces focus on the task at hand, and leads to a much happier life.

By the way, for a more detailed insight into avoiding distractions, take a look at “How to deal with interruptions

Constraints over abundance 

Having constraints in place spark creativity, set good boundaries, and help get the most out of your resources.

In project management, work in progress limits keep your team working at an optimal pace without fear of burnout.

Constraints in resources such as hardware and software help you get a better return on investment on them.

Concentrating on one task at a time yields much better results than having to constantly shift focus.

Time constraints foster a sense of urgency that comes very handy when feeling stuck, such as writing a blog post on your personal management framework

Overall, I have found that having constraints is extremely helpful to me and my team.

Simplicity over complexity 

This is usually easier said than done, especially when it comes to architecting new systems or defining a new process for a team.

The idea here is that simplicity is easy to replicate, easy to distribute, and easy to follow.

So when given an option to follow multiple paths, the easy one will always win in my book. 

Value the individual

Not to contradict my team accountability statement above, when it comes to interacting with my team, blanket approaches to specific situations don’t work very well.

What I am talking about here are things such as communication preferences, background, career goals, coding styles, pairing preferences, etc.

Learning and valuing the vast difference in character from all my team members is one of the best ways for me to show that I care about them and that I am fully vested in their success.


Introducing keystone habits, holding the team accountable, managing time, introducing constraints, keeping it simple, and valuing the individual is my simple recipe for managerial success.

what is yours?

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