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Exceeding Expectations is Like Having Super Powers

A while back I wrote a post titled “It’s the Little Things” where I discussed how seemingly minor details may completely change the perception of something great. Well, I went back to that resort, this time with my wife, and was reminded that the opposite can also be true. In a world of tight compensation budgets and limited flexibility it is good to remember that exceeding expectations by just a bit can make an enormous impression. I once again attended a compensation event at a beautiful resort in Southern California (why can't all of our events be at coastal resorts?). I had reserved a normal room with no fanfare and set my expectations accordingly. When I checked in they let me know that were giving me a bungalow overlooking the ocean. Already I was impressed.

The next morning we asked where we could buy some bottled water and the person handed us several bottles. They then proceeded to make sure we had an abundance of the high-end shampoos, bath gels and bath salts offered by the property. We ate meals and the food was great, with excellent service. In fact every single expectation was exceeded. Now, this is an amazing resort so our expectations were pretty high, so beating them even slightly took some skill and effort. In the end, it was an amazing trip that rivaled any vacation I have ever taken.

That’s right, it made a business trip feel like a vacation. I felt like I was the most important person at the resort.

What if we did this in the world of compensation? Why not offer just a bit more for merit increases than people expected? Can you imagine if every performance review offered real insight into how to be better? What if we gave a bit more STI and LTI than our peers AND we also had an active and exciting recognition program? And, what if we made sure people really understood their pay programs?

Many of you will say that there is no budget for these things. I argue that adding a few percentage points to exceed expectations can give your company super powers without breaking the bank. It’s not about giving your employees nothing to complain about, it’s about giving them too many things to rave about!

It doesn’t take much to exceed expectations. I have found that dramatically overachieving in one area, does not make up for shortcomings in others. If you can do just slightly better in everything, then everything will be great!

How can we give employees fully-vested options without having them incur a large tax bill?

Communicating Pay Increases