Should I Pay My Rockstar Team Members More?

This week's question from my portal “The Neagle Code: Directions for Life” comes from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

Neagle Code Question

Hi David,

I have two “rockstar” team members who are asking for 3x their salary. Hands down, they’re worth that amount.

I’d feel guilty paying them more, because the rest of my team is paid based in their country’s currency. If I pay the rockstars U.S. wages, it seems unfair to those who aren’t as capable—because maybe they’re disadvantaged, their life was harder, or they’re a single mom or something.

How should I approach this?

Neagle Code Answer

If one person is a rockstar and one is mediocre and you’re paying them the same for the same position—you’re going to lose the rockstar eventually.

The mediocre one should probably be let go, and you should hire a second rockstar.

It’s not personal.

Let’s say someone is showing up every day, giving their best—and they’re just not getting there. That’s probably the wrong position for them.

I tell people, “Find a place where you can be the rockstar of your own life.” If they can’t get there, they should probably look for something different.

That’s not your burden to carry.

You’re responsible TO people, not FOR them.

Everyone has a hard life. Everyone’s on their own journey. How determined are they to change their circumstances?

It’s their responsibility to clean up their life.

As the business owner—and their boss—you can do your team a great benefit by having those truthful conversations with them.

Be transparent. Tell them, “Look, I’d love to pay you as much as the next person. But you’ve got to clean up these issues before you can get there. You COULD be a rockstar, but it won’t happen until you clean things up. You’ll probably perform way better once you do.”

Consider how a professional sports team is run. The best person gets the job… period. People who aren’t the best go somewhere else, even if the coach loves that person.

The coach makes hard decisions in the best interests of the team.

That’s how you need to see yourself. The best player gets the spot. If they’re not the best, they need to go somewhere else—maybe somewhere where they’re looking for a “B player” or “C player,” rather than an “A player.”

If you have B and C players on your team, working with A players—those A players will leave, because A players want to work with other A players.

Don’t do a disservice to your A player, your B player, AND to your company.

Remember, it’s a team—not a family. Everyone is gunning for those spots, while taking responsibility to do their best. If someone isn’t doing their best, have a conversation about why. Then it’s a decision on what to do about it.

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