At some time (if not many times) in everyone's career, there is a discussion, a request, or a negotiation surrounding getting paid. For some of us, dealing with this issue comes easy; for others, it's agony. Either way, we need to be able to determine what we are worth, and know how to seek and receive it.
I believe salary increases should be earned—that is, they shouldn't just be given because it's time. I also believe that employees should not have to ask for raises; employers should initiate the process.
Compensation is a very hot topic currently, fueled by Wall Street pay practices, government intervention, and public anger. I first heard the term "golden handcuffs" in the 1980s: People who had a critical book of business or a particular skill set were compensated in such a way as to keep them tied to the company. There was often a boomerang effect, however: the handcuffed individuals kept asking for more and more, with the result that even in hard times, certain individuals continued to be extravagantly compensated, causing others to resent them and the company. That resentment fed discontent and caused further erosion of loyalty between employer and employee.
During up-cycles, when revenue is rolling in, compensation is a very different topic than during times of contraction. It seems, on some levels, that you work harder during lean times and get fewer rewards. I can't tell you how ...