Opportunities in disguise

November 2023

I remember the first time I gave someone a raise. I'll never forget it.

This person was a key player on the team. Someone talented and experienced, that had nonetheless bought into our mission and delivered results. He was a fun person to be around, too. But because we were an early stage startup, we couldn't pay him his market salary rate.

When we finally raised our series A, I was able to go to him and give him a well-deserved raise. I will never forget the result of the conversation.

He was overjoyed. His face lit up, his posture changed, he was a happy camper. And then, before my eyes, I saw it fade. The whole thing took less than 60 seconds. And then he said:

"What do I have to do to get another raise?"

I was shocked! How ungrateful! Where did he think the money came from, I thought?

That was a rookie manager reaction. I should've been overjoyed. I now had a clearly recognizable, motivated human being in front of me that could continue to grow if only I had the skills and wisdom to set expectations, goals, and basically know how to generally manage him.

Do you have someone like this on your team? Do you find yourself reacting like a curmudgeon when one of your star people asks for a raise that you don't feel you can afford?

It's an opportunity in disguise. Exploit this person's desire to grow the business, improve the product, be a good example on the team, the possibilities are limitless.

I've found that turning those moments where my gut reaction is some form of disgust, annoyance, or frustration into opportunities for improvement has transformed my team's performance & motivation and made me generally a happier, more effective manager and leader.

That's my challenge to you. Find a problem moment and turn it into an opportunity.