Houston Lawyer for Executive Compensation

You may be involved in negotiating a compensation package for a new job or an upward promotion. Or you may be wanting an increase in compensation. The key word in your analysis is “value.” You should ask yourself, “What is my value?”

Gardner Employment Law has successfully advised many executives during their upward mobility. Having an objective counselor assist you during your negotiations will keep you on track and help you to avoid legal pitfalls that you might not see alone. If you need this type assistance, give us a call.

What Is Your Value?

You know the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” That’s where you may be in assessing your own value. You could be so muddled in the details of the offer that you’ve lost sight of what you bring to the table. I have helped clients who had not thought about this question before beginning negotiations. The answer to the question, what is my value, is a combination of your past, present, and future.

First, you should reflect on past achievements, including earlier positions with other companies, some even years ago. If previously you were wildly successful, you can do it again. That’s who you are.

Temper that by being realistic about your current qualifications. Be positive, of course, but a shrewd hiring manager will know if you’re totally bluffing. The company has already sized you up. 

Add to that your vision of yourself and what you can achieve. You know your capabilities better than anyone. Finally, like a good recipe, add a dash of risk! 

Clearly identifying these elements will place you in a better negotiating position.  Having a degree and graduate work in psychology, I can help you analyze the company’s negotiators and to quantify your value.  Your value is a large part of your leverage.

Leverage: What Is It and How to Use It

Leverage is that special persuasive power to move the other side closer to your desired outcome. Leverage can be positive or negative. Positive leverage is your ability to supply what your opponent wants. Your value, your superior abilities, your contacts, your book of business are examples of assets that you can provide that will benefit your employer. If others can provide these same assets as well or better than you, your leverage is diminished.

Negative leverage is the ability to put your opponent in a worse position. It is threat based. Based on the theory of loss aversion, experts postulate that persons usually view possible losses as being stronger than possible gains. 

In an amiable employment arrangement, positive leverage generally enhances the relationship. You should convince your employer than you are the only person who can do what is needed or you can do it best. Negative leverage can create hostility and should be used sparingly. One useful tactic is pointing out to the employer what could happen if you leave the company, a loss that you have the power to prevent.

Get the Big Picture

You likely are considering equity in the company as part of your compensation package. You should know as much as possible about how the equity interest being offered is defined.  You are being offered a percentage ownership, but a percentage of what?  Are there any restrictions?  If options are being offered, what are the vesting and exercise periods?  The answers will be critical.  As Forbes has suggested, what really matters is the percentage of the company the offer represents, what the company could be worth in the future, how long any options take to vest, and when you have to exercise those options.  This topic is covered in more detail in Equity Ownership.

While you are still in the “honeymoon” period, collect all of the information you can.  As a trial lawyer who’s been in many courtroom battles over money, I always counsel my clients to “look out for number one.” In other words, be cordial and professional, but be sparing with your trust during negotiations.  Find out everything that you can about the company and its decision-makers. 

Get Legal Advice Before Signing Documents

We all think that we know and understand plain English. That is not enough in understanding the legal consequences. Always see an expert contract lawyer before signing any binding agreement.  In Texas, anyone who signs a document is presumed to have read and understood it.

I had a client once who came into our offices after he was in trouble over wording in a document he had signed. He said, “In my 40 years in business, this is the first time that I didn’t see a lawyer before closing the deal. I thought I knew enough to do it myself.” Like this client, don’t learn that lesson the hard way.

Be Smart in Your Negotiations

Being cautious is the smart way to proceed in negotiating your compensation package. Companies often try to rush the deal to conclusion. You should take the time to meet with a top employment lawyer who has experience in negotiating employment contracts to guide you during the process.

At Gardner Employment Law, we are in your corner to help you get the deal that you deserve.  If you want an expert on your side, give us a call.

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