08 May 2015

Hunter Walk: “The Time when YouTube eliminated Pay Bias for its Product Managers”

We were months away from any annual review process but when looking over the salary data we saw something troubling. Many of our high performers weren’t necessarily at the high side of their salary band. Why? Any variety of reasons but most had to do with what their Year One salary was at Google and whether they were aggressive negotiators of salary during performance reviews or off-cycle because of competitive job offers.

So what did we do to those high achievers who were being paid same or less than their peers? We bumped their salary to the max of their current level. Over time, their performance trajectory would have fixed any imbalances – they’d be promoted faster, get more stock, etc but that wasn’t the point. Our nearterm goal was for our best product managers to know that we never wanted them to feel undervalued and that they could trust our desire to invest in them. In my opinion, the dollars we spent in off-cycle salary changes repaid themselves 10x in retention and moral.

Hunter Walk

I’ve had the opposite experience at one of my previous workplaces: I was among the first hired and teaching newer colleagues the processes, when I accidentally found out they received about twice my salary. When I talked to my manager about this and an eventual raise, it quickly became clear that the company had no intention of fixing these imbalances, not for me, nor anyone else. And in the regular performance review system it would have taken me years to get to the pay level of these new hires.

Needless to say, I didn’t stick around very long…

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