The M-word

Today, I want to talk to you about something that makes many people uncomfortable… something that has caused many sleepless nights, countless conflicts, and so much strife…


There is so much of an anxiety around this five-letter word. In the employment interview, the air gets so still and cold when the time comes to talk about compensation. Team members stress about raise requests; leaders anguish over budget line items. No one wants to talk about it.

But oddly enough, money drama is rarely about money itself.

Money is not just the number we see as our bank balance that lets us pay the bills. It is a metric – a measurement of value – an expression of worth – one that we can easily compare and contrast and assess and understand. 

That is how your top performer sees money.

Imagine yourself in their shoes. Maybe you are not motivated by money; maybe instead, you like what you do, and you appreciate the chance to do it.

You have been with your company for a few years now. Because you are diligent, you have not only made them a lot of money, you have also added uncountable value to them with your ideas and input. You have solved their problems, profited them, and gone above and beyond in your duties.

And every year at your annual review, you get stellar feedback from your leader… but your paycheck is still the same as it was when you joined.

Even with your significant contribution, there does not seem to be room in the budget for a raise.

Curious, you go online to see how other companies are valuing someone in your role with your level of skill and experience…

…and as it turns out, they are valuing it a lot more!


No, you may not run into your boss’s office screaming and making demands. No, you may not storm out in a huff. But now, it is clear that your contribution is worth more somewhere else. Your spark has been extinguished.

And now that you see how “much” you are valued in your organization’s numbers, you start seeing how “much” they value you in other areas, as well. 

…How long are you still that organization’s top performer?

…How long are you still that organization’s top performer?

It’s not about the money. It’s the mindset around the value of their contribution.

But even if it is about the money for you (the leader), consider this: one 2019 Gallup poll found that the average cost of replacing an employee in the U.S. is between 50% and 200% of that employee’s annual salary.

Which would you rather give: a 5% raise, or a 50% turnover loss? 

A 5% expression of value, or a 50% fine for not expressing value?

Do not wait for your team to come to you about their pay. Bring the discussion to them one-on-one – show them their pay satisfaction is on your mind. Even if it is not within your power to adjust their pay, tell your team it is your priority – and then make it your priority.

Want to reduce turnover? Get comfortable having the compensation conversation. An employee who knows their organization values them does not wonder if other organizations will.

Oh – and if you are looking for other ways to reduce turnover, I’ve compiled a free guide of my 5 best strategies for retaining top talent. Retention is a major headache for corporate leaders so I wanted to pass along what I learned in my career coordinating projects at Volvo and Renault.

That’s all for now.

Until next time,


Get My Free Guide: 5 Strategies for Retaining Top Talent

Voluntary turnover it’s an ALARMINGLY preventable problem.

To combat this, I have outlined five leadership strategies that will keep your top performers leaned in and performing.