Give me your salary and I'll tell you who you are

This article was born in response to this article here. Namely, on this point:
“Lebedev Rule” - no one inside the company should know how much the other gets. Does not comply with your deputy - fire; does not comply with a professional - fire; you yourself have mentioned - from now on no one will work for you, they will receive a salary, but they will not work. They will fulfill the written words, but literally understood. If a professional gets a lot - that's good. If others know this, they will investigate whether he is shit as a person.
I strongly disagree with this and, moreover, I think that it is important and useful to know how much colleagues get. I myself managed to work in different companies, in which they treated this money secret differently. Somewhere everyone knew how much they received, somewhere it was the strictest secret, the disclosure of which threatened to be fired. And somewhere, only a limited circle of people knew about this one way or another who had access to this data. And nowhere did this knowledge interfere with work.


We are all so used to hiding our salaries that we consider it normal. But let's see where the legs grow from? I don’t know about you, but I managed to find times when no one made secrets from the salary. Yes, usually the salaries of colleagues didn’t differ, and the fact that someone somewhere gets more or less didn’t play a special piano. After all, it’s somewhere in another department, in another enterprise, but here, everyone is equal. But then capitalism burst into the country, people felt the taste of money and began to slowly realize that “Cadres decide everything”, this is not just a phrase. And now our Vasya Pupkin goes to the head and says: “Competitors from various companies have already approached me, they are calling to themselves, they promise money ... more.” And the chief thinks. What to do? Well, you can’t let Vasya go, he’s also a production leader, he’ll leave, so three will have to be taken in his place. Raise your salary? So, after all, others will also want to. What to do? “You, Vasya, you know that we will raise your salary, you are a highly qualified specialist, we value you very much and do not want to lose.” Only you, don’t tell anyone that they raised your salary, okay? - Why not talk? “Well, you yourself understand, the rest will want it too, but we don’t have that much money, all the more so because you work better than anyone else, and we will raise you, right?” And Vasya happy returns to the workplace. And honestly keeps a secret, rightly so, all the more he promised to seem to not tell anyone. But over time, others also reached out for Vasya. Someone was refused, someone was raised by 10%, someone by 20%, and someone by 5%. And with all the promise, and now everyone has a different salary. And here is Vladimir Tridentikin, no worse than Vasily Pupkin’s working, but he doesn’t ask for a raise, a wonderful employee. Only this, it would be time to make these promises with these promises, is it not reliable somehow. From tomorrow, income level is a trade secret. They would drive the violators upside, so that it would be disgraceful for others, but they would want something good, fair wages.

Our days

So the older generation was re-educated, and the younger from the first days of seniority is told that knowledge of other people's incomes is only a stone of discord. You don’t need to know this, you’ll sleep better. And in the latter they are really right, falling asleep with the thought that a colleague can receive the same or less is much more pleasant than with the firm knowledge that he is getting more. But here everything is not so simple. On the one hand, it is really important for business that you sleep soundly. After all, a healthy sleep is the key to health. And health is the key to high performance. On the other hand, business needs more profit! And profit is income minus expenses. And our salary is, whatever one may say, expenses. A transparent wage system does not provide room for maneuver. At the same time, secret wages provide ample opportunities for reducing the salary fund.

How does it work? A candidate for an interview comes, for example, they evaluate him at 100 thousand rubles. And then they suddenly ask, how much would you like to receive? Some HRs can very professionally get a figure out of a candidate. Well, then everything is simple. I asked say 80k, great! We take on 80k, saving 20k per person. I requested 120k, sorry we can offer you only 100k. Or they can make a move with a horse. We need 2 specialists, a budget of 200 thousand rubles. One asks for 80, the other asks for 120. We take both, but what, we fit into the budget. Whether it is fair or not, this is another matter. But this is how the system works. It’s easier for her, she’s so comfortable, so she is trying so hard to maintain the current situation.

But what about a transparent wage system?

The first thing I want to say is a transparent payment system, not a panacea. This approach has its drawbacks and disadvantages, and we will talk about them too. But first, let’s say good things first.


You know, for 15 years of work in different companies I have never met a normal motivation system. I am now talking about those motivation systems that should seem to encourage us to work better and more efficiently and from which we should receive some kind of feedback in the form of various buns, usually money (bonuses, bonuses). Some systems, after being finalized with a file, might even work on some kind of conveyor production, but we have a slightly different specificity. Maybe I was just unlucky and a cool transparent motivation system really works somewhere? Share in the comments.

But wait a moment. Salary is the same motivation, the main and the main. And just knowing in itself that a colleague gets more is a powerful motivational incentive. Unless of course this colleague is not the director’s nephew and his salary is only due to family ties. But let's not consider such situations. In a normal situation, a colleague gets more because, why? There are many options. It works more, it works longer, it works better, it works more efficiently. And any of these options is a growth vector. Transparent and clear. And most importantly - real. Here he is, sitting at the next table and getting more money, take an example from him and get the same amount!


We have already discussed that in the system of secret salaries, everyone gets as much as agreed. And this is not always true. Usually it’s not those who work better who get better, but those who are better off who can bargain for more. But everyone knows about impostor syndrome ? In the period of exacerbation of the “disease”, a person can greatly lower his salary expectations. And more than he wants, no one will pay him. Profitable? Yes. Right? I don’t think so. And what does such non-justice usually lead to? Usually dismissed.


We have already said that transparency deprives management of maneuverability in terms of salary costs. But there is another factor that is very useful to employees and not always useful to business. Consider a simple example. So you come to a new company and see that some of your colleagues have a salary 2 times yours! And you immediately understand that what you were told at the interview about growth prospects is absolutely true! There really is room to grow. And if you see that the colleagues have the same salary, plus or minus, and some worked for another 10 years, and that guy is there, he’s a rock old, you should study and study with him, and his salary again, Well, a little more than yours. And you somehow immediately realize that the only prospect here is to get stuck in this swamp.

But what about business?

Well OK, if everything is so good, why didn’t the business come to this? And why is the business still sitting in open space? Are there any serious studies showing the inefficiency of open space? Why is business still measuring our labor in hours? Indeed, it seems even to a student that it is clear that a successfully completed project is more important than the one who spent many hours in the office. The answer is the same everywhere - it’s easier for business. It’s harder and more expensive to organize normal jobs than to set up tables in open space. It’s more difficult to manage a project than to make sure that you dig from here before lunch. And paying a salary openly and transparently is also more difficult than keeping it in the background. Not to mention the mentioned maneuverability.

Again transparency?

Yes, transparency again. Transparency is what business most dislikes. Business does not want to play fair, because fair play is harder. We need specialists who can answer the most important question of transparent payment:


Why is Vasya Pupkin getting more? This question is not so easy to answer. As correctly noted in the comments on the original article, people sometimes tend to overestimate themselves and underestimate others. Therefore, it is difficult not only to answer this question, but to answer so that they agree with you. If you say that Vasya Pupkin gets more because he works better, then you need to back it up with facts. KPIs so beloved by business are appropriate here, any statistics will also be useful. It is an open dialogue between the employee and the employer that will ultimately reveal objective indicators.

I already wrote that I worked in companies where I knew the income of my colleagues and I worked comfortably there. Perhaps the whole point is that the distribution of salaries there was fair? Those. I was looking at colleagues who get more and realized that everything was fair. This one gets more, because he is more experienced, and there he is, because more responsibility hangs on him. If a person considers himself to be the navel of the earth and wants to get a lot without doing anything, maybe it is worth firing such a person?

Recruit professionals

There are different definitions of the word professional. I adhere to this definition: A

professional is a person who has achieved certain successes in his field, who clearly understands what he can and cannot do, and does not try to take on more than he can do.

As a professional, I normally feel that someone does more than me and gets more than me for it. Hire professionals so that people work, and not investigate if someone else gets shit.


Not every company will be able to work with transparent payment. Well, simply because in this case it is necessary not only to be able to manage personnel, but also to be able to adequately evaluate the work of qualified personnel. If you don’t know why a person’s month is mythical and why developer’s work efficiency cannot be measured in the number of lines of code, it’s better not even try to experiment with pay. Only make worse. But it is not necessary to argue that transparent payment is evil, because you tried and you didn’t succeed. And even more so if you have not even tried.

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