Picture the scene:
You’re in a courtroom-ish setting with a panel of three “judges” at the front of the room. They don’t know anything about you except for the papers in front of them. They don’t know anything about the line of work you’re in or what you do for your company.
All they know is what’s in those papers…the “evidence.”
On the other side of the aisle is your boss and a couple of attorneys representing the company you work for.
Your boss’ attorney stands up and makes his case:
Carlos did OK for himself this year. He contributed where he could and tried to add value on all the projects he worked on. Unfortunately, he fell short.
Every single project he worked on was deemed a failure when you line it up to the goals that were originally targeted.
In fact, Carlos did such a bad job that he is lucky to still have his job.
That being said, we want to keep him because we see value here and we’d like to “give him another shot.”
As you’ll see in the documentation in front of you, it’s clear that Carlos deserves a salary of $1.5 million dollars for the coming year. We tried to find a common ground, but he was obstinate about wanting more money despite his numerous failures.
So we had to be harsh in our assessment of what we feel he deserves. And $1.5 million is still being very generous.
He sits down with a big, dumb grin on his face and you stare at your boss, slack jawed.
Failure??? That’s not what he’s been telling you throughout this past year!
Now that it’s time to decide what your salary is going to be, they’re totally dogging you and taking a totally one-sided look at things.
You stand up and make your case:
Frankly, I’m shocked at what is being said by my boss’ attorney. I was under the impression I was doing a really good job, as you’ll see from the documentation in your hands. It’s clear that, when you look at the market for other people with my experience and expertise, I should be paid $4.2 million.
I’ve excelled in every role and my current position and responsibility in this industry calls for a salary of $4.2 million. I mean, just look at the evidence: there are four other people in our very company that have had results similar to mine and they all make at least $4.2 million.
That is how I have arrived at this number. Not only that, this company has continuously tried to cut costs even when performance warrants a boost in salary.
I will not allow myself to become a casualty of this cost-cutting effort.
Of course I want to stay here and continue to work, but I deserve to earn $4.2 million. I think you’ll find it pretty easy to agree with me.
And with that, you rest your case, sit down, and take a deep breath.
These three people will huddle together and pick a number. It’s either going to be $4.2 or $1.5 million, but it’s not going to be in between.
This zero-sum game is called arbitration and it’s how professional baseball players have their salaries decided when they’re eligible.
No matter how ugly it gets or how nasty things get, you’re going to work for this person in the coming year, making whatever the arbitrators decide. Their word is final.
My question to all of you: could you handle it?
Could you work for a whole year for a boss that has just trashed you in order to save some money? Many MLB arbitration stories hint that these cases have driven players to move to another team and not re-sign.
They held a grudge after all the mean things that were said about them in arbitration.
It’s why some general managers don’t like going to arbitration: the GM of the Orioles, Andy MacPhail, hasn’t gone to arbitration with a player since 1986.
Image by Andy54321