The First Lie That You Hear in HR

Many of you are now aware that Peyton Manning, All Pro NFL quarterback, was released by the Indianapolis Colts (I wrote about it here).

Long story short, he was injured, he’s on the back side of his career, he was due a boatload of money, and Indianapolis made a business decision to let him go.

There was this really heartfelt press conference with the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, and Peyton on the day he was released where they both cried and talked about how much they loved and respected each other. But within all that, there was one giant lie – one we hear all the time in HR.

Jim Irsay stood at the podium and said, this is not about money.

Boom! Liar!

Money, money, it’s always about the money

It’s always about money – and this was about money. If Irsay would have kept Peyton on one (1) more day,  it would have cost his organization $28 million. It was about and is about money; you don’t know if he’s going to perform at the level he has over the past 14 years, and you aren’t willing to risk $28 million on that decision to keep him.

I can’t tell you how many times in HR I’ve heard this statement from employees who are leaving for another company, and 99.9 percent of the time they are flat out lying to your face! It goes something like this:

“Tim, I’m putting in my two weeks notice”

What can we do to keep you?“Nothing – it’s not about the money; I’m looking for that next phase in my career.”

So, you won’t stay if we pay you $100K more!” “Well, wait a minute – you would pay me $100K more?!”

“No! I just wanted to show you it is about money. Now go – I don’t like to work with liars!”

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Everyone has a price

That’s exactly how you do it, HR newbies! When someone tells you it’s not about money, start negotiating and find that price, because you’ll get to it pretty quickly.

“But Tim, it isn’t about money – I want to spend more time with my kids – I need balance.” “I’ll give you a 50 percent increase.” You know, my kids will sure like going to private schools much more than public schools.”

Everyone has a price, and some prices are just more expensive than others, but never let anyone tell you it’s not about the money – it is.

If Peyton Manning would have gone to Jim Irsay and said, “Look Jimmy (I assume he calls him Jimmy), I want to do right by the Colts; I’ll except the league minimum to stay here,” well, “Peyton, you got yourself a deal!” would have been the entire conversation. But Peyton is smart – he knows his value, as does Jimmy – so they cut him loose.

We do this all the time with our employees. Mary from IT just came in and said she got a new job paying her 20 percent more, and we calculate how much that will cost to raise up Mary as well as everyone else in her same position. We then look at Mary, shake her hand and tell her good luck.

That’s because: It’s about the money.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


4 Comments on “The First Lie That You Hear in HR

  1. Good piece.  And funny.  However, for the most innovative workers, it’s not always about the money.  There are many companies that will offer more money but no additional challenge (except for continued fire fights) or no additional learning (eg. you’re at the top of the pecking order and are paid to teach and to continue making donuts).  A candidate that we recently found a new home for left even after his old company doubled his salary. Why? His new company recognized that his unique skills would be great in product development (vs. editorial).  He ultimately wants to be a GM of a media company. This was the right thing to do for his overall career trajectory. He took less money to move forward into the career he wanted. So it’s not always about the money.   

    1. Good reply Allison. It is always about the money, but not the way most people think. Money is the metric (KPI) we all use. I have had some positions that stunk because of travel or co-workers that more money (a lot) would have made the situation tolerable. Likewise, I have found myself in positions that no amount of money would have cured. Many including myself will often leave as you mentioned because of a new oportunity or to move us closer to our own personal long term goals which belong to ourselves and ourselves alone!

  2. An interesting perspective to say the least. If HR was as powerful and insightful as they thought it wouldnt come to its all about the money end to this somewhat slanted perspective. HR are there to ensure that the people taken on are culturally going to fit in and perform continuously within the organization. I assume its only bad practice to trick someone into naming the price which is a course of action no one wants to work with.

    Not funny, do not encourage.

    1. Adam if I understand your comment you are saying that HR has complete and total responsibility for ensuring the quality and longevity of every hire.  Really?  So managers should not be held accountable for their hiring choices?  And senior leadership is not responsible for creating a culture where employees can grow and thrive?  Interesting perspective.  If only HR had that much power and influence.

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