Partnerships between managers and HR drive comp success

Managers are on the forefront of ensuring employee engagement. They’re responsible for building the relationships that create a sense of connection between employees and the organization. They are uniquely positioned to understand an employee’s strengths, professional goals, and what makes them show up at work each day.  

To be successful, managers are constantly striking a balance between serving as an agent of the organization and being advocates for every single one of their employees. This balancing act makes it imperative that managers partner with the HR team to ensure positive people-related outcomes.  

During Compference22, we took the opportunity to host a conversation between two Payscale employees who understand the importance of this partnership: Lauren Cole, who manages the customer education team, and HR business partner Elena Armstrong. 

Key points from their conversation about how HR and managers partner to drive compensation success are captured in this Q&A.

What is required for a successful HR-to-manager partnership?  

Elena (HR): Not all managers understand the role of an HR business partner and how we can help. I use quarterly or monthly check-ins to connect with managers. They serve as a time when I can share how I can support them and also better understand what they need. Building relationships with leaders makes it comfortable for them to come to me for guidance and builds mutual trust. I also try to join weekly team meetings to engage with the manager’s direct reports, and I’ve really enjoyed setting up “stay interviews” as a way of learning more about the teams and managers, too.  

Lauren (manager): It’s important for HR and people managers to have a shared language. I want to be sure that I’m speaking the same language around compensation as my HR team. I want to feel confident that I’m sharing the right information with my team and that it’s consistent with what other managers are sharing as well. I also need a clear understanding of the performance cycle and review process. My team will ask for dates and timing. I want to be able to proactively share that information with them.  

How can HR help managers with compensation conversations? 

Elena (HR): Sharing the organization’s compensation philosophy is extremely important. It’s our goal to have managers understand that philosophy upfront. That way, they go into compensation and promotion conversations confident that they’re relaying the right message. Consistency between managers is also key. Make sure they know how transparent the organization is about compensation. If one team manager is sharing only salary mid-points and another is communicating pay ranges and strategy, it creates issues. We know that pay transparency is a spectrum and a journey. Take your managers along with you, and let them know what you want to share now and if you plan to change that in the future.  

Lauren (manager): Having a resource and an HR business partner like Elena really sets me up for success. For tough compensation conversations, it helps to have someone to practice with beforehand. It’s also been beneficial when Elena joins a call to provide additional context around a compensation decision. Of course, it’s also fun to have someone to join in the celebration when a comp conversation goes well. 

How do you set yourselves up for success during the review process? 

Elena (HR): Review cycles can be somewhat of a heavy lift for managers. Sending a kickoff email before the review cycle has even started is really important. I let managers know exactly what to expect and provide a timeline of important dates and events. They’ll want to get their calendars ready and start to think about how the cycle will look for them and for their employees. I want to make sure that Lauren and other managers can come to me with any questions and that they feel confident with any next steps. 

Lauren (manager): It helps when HR business partners make themselves available and are willing to help. Elena schedules optional office hours when we’re approaching an important milestone or review deadline. That way, as a manager, I can jump on the call and ask questions in real time. Having a frequently asked questions document also really helps me stay on track. 

What makes HR-to-manager partnerships successful? 

Elena (HR): As HR business partners, we can impact the success of our organizations more broadly than we might think. Collaborating with managers ensures we’re doing right by both the business and the employees. This requires striking a balance between the two by coaching leaders and helping them drive business solutions, while also helping them understand the implications of their decisions.  

Managing people can feel like one of the best parts of someone’s career. It can also be one of the most intimidating. A strong partnership with HR is essential to supporting managers in the vital work they do. While the partnership between HR and managers might look different at your organization, we encourage you to map out the roles and responsibilities around compensation conversations to enable alignment and clarity between HR, managers, and employees.  

Lauren (manager): This isn’t a one-way street where managers are just sitting here waiting for information from HR. Both managers and HR have responsibilities and ownership around the compensation process. When everyone is committed to collaborating in order to create and maintain a relationship built on trust, this partnership is truly powerful. 

Looking to support your managers in talking about compensation? Let’s talk. Payscale offers solutions and services that will set your managers up for success.