The Value of ‘Improv’ in Salary Negotiation

The Value of ‘Improv’ in Salary Negotiation

By Dynexus Group, Inc

The Effectiveness of ‘Yes, And..’ in Hiring

Over the past 2 decades, DyNexus Recruiting has recruited, placed and hired hundreds of ERP and CRM (IT) consultants for VARs, ISVs and ERP & CRM end-user companies. Of all the topics that can blow-up a potentially positive hire, conflicting views on salary is one of the top deal-killers.

There’s a concept that started in the world of theatrical Improvisation that is known as the ‘Yes, And’ concept. If it is applied to salary negotiation during the interview/hiring process, it can work wonders to make this unavoidable topic one that serves to drive progress rather than conflict. What happens, too frequently, is both sides present and defend their desire as a “line in the sand,” rather than a sharing of views. ‘Yes, And’ allows both parties to see their desire and the desire of the person across the table as a starting point in the collaborative, positive process of working through the difference to common ground. If the conversation is guided by good faith, with the mutual understanding that both parties will have to adjust during the process, then a constructive conversation will most often (and more quickly) evolve to a mutual understanding of if it’s going to be a partnership, or a mismatch, and they will arrive at either conclusion with a mutual respect for each other. For example…


Many, many times, hirers are quick to adopt the mindset that a candidate shouldn’t get more than a (X)% increase in pay from their last job. This position is common amongst hirers, partly because they often feel that it’s “negotiating”, and can end up saving them money if the candidate accepts. However, is that actually a fact? Does acting within this mindset really bring additional value to the hiring company?

When you consider the financial investment involved in hiring and onboarding a new employee and the risk you are taking that this person you just hired might be anything other than smart, decent, productive and loyal, and you weigh that against the potential gain of hiring an employee who on day one is happy to be here and grateful to his new company for paying him what the market considers a fair wage: Is it really worth it for you to engage from a mindset that has you positioning for a better deal at your potential employee’s expense as your first serious interaction with her?

A better approach in this case might be to consider where the candidate’s head is. For example, that candidate may very well be leaving a company that was vastly underpaying him or her, and their whole reason for considering joining your company is to be paid what the market is bearing for someone of her caliber and experience.

Another idea you may consider here is this: Take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle, dividing the page in half. On the left hand side, figure how much money you safe or lose at the end of 1 year when you hire a candidate at $10K below fair market value and that candidate generates as much as the weakest link on you team is generating for your company at the end of one year. Now, on the other side of the page, figure how much money you gain or lose when you hire a candidate at fair market value and that candidate generates as much as the strongest link on your team is generating for your company after one year. Now, look at these two numbers.. Which one is better for your bottom line?

So, if long-term loyalty is what you want from your employees, you may see this shift in thought as your investment in a positive, respectful beginning of a relationship, rather than the chance to keep an extra several thousand bucks in payroll. You probably get the drift. Be “in the moment” and keep the conversation moving forward towards mutual benefit.

If you want to see more about this and other improvisational ideas for collaboration and team-building, take a look at It takes a shift in point-of-view, and some courage to adopt an improvisational mindset, but it’s effective, and contagious! Plus, you may find the challenge to be one that spurs growth both as a both a professional and a human being. And then of course . . .


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