Publisher’s Note, October 2016
10 Rules for Negotiating a Director of Surgical Services Job Offer
Josiah Whitman, Managing Partner, Whitman Partners
Directors of Surgical Services frequently ask us for help with salary negotiations. Sometimes these offers come through our efforts, other times we offer this advice pro bono. The following rules help ensure that the candidate’s needs are met and that all parties are on the same page and ready to begin a productive work relationship.
1. Make them like you. A dirty little secret about hiring managers is they will often select a candidate based on whether they can see themselves getting coffee with you.
2. Make them believe you deserve it. It’s not enough that you believe you deserve the package. They have to believe it. Treat it like an algebra problem. If they offer you X and you want X plus Y, then solve for Y. It is better to ask for Y because “you can take over the cath lab.”
3. Have exactly two other opportunities. A good Director of Surgical Services has powerful leverage. However, if you want the CNO to spend her political capital going to bat for you, she will do so only if she believes it will pay off. If you have nine other offers and the odds aren’t good they will get you, she’s unlikely to stick her neck out.
4. Ask about the historical track record of raises at the hospital. This sends the message that you are thinking about being there for the long haul. (By the way www.streetinsider.com reports the average raise in healthcare for 2016 is 2.8%.)
5. Get to know what moves the football on your CNO’s career. Ask your contacts in the organization or ask her directly (without sending the signal that you want her job). Then use this information to help illustrate how hiring you helps her career.
6. Stay at the table. The negotiation may not be finished when you give a verbal yes. What you weren’t privy to when you gave your verbal, you may become privy to after you pass your onboarding checklist. Call your CNO to give her an update about your onboarding progress and ask if there have been any changes. Do it again after 30 days and you may find out have the ability to solve a new challenge.
7. Negotiate multiple issues simultaneously. There is nothing worse than asking for a salary increase, receiving it, and then asking for an increase in the relocation package. They’re not going to be in a particularly giving mood. And prioritize clearly: if you ask for A, B, C, and D and they come back to you with C and D, they may be thinking they are meeting you halfway.
8. Avoid making ultimatums and ignore them when they’re given to you. People don’t like feeling strong-armed. If they make an ultimatum of you, just ignore it. Often their ultimatum will go away naturally. In the heat of the moment, someone may make an overreach or an overask. Don’t beat them over the head with it. It’s embarrassing for them and you don’t want to make them lose face. If it is a true ultimatum, they’ll repeat it over and over.
9. Give a provisional “yes.” If you need to get to Green Bay because your Packer tattoo isn’t going over so hot in Chicago, make sure every job in Green Bay is a provisional yes. Let’s role play: Question: “Would you consider being the Clinical Director of Surgical Services for a salary of $115,000 for our hospital in Green Bay?” Answer: “Yes! (provisionally). And let’s talk in more detail about the job description and how that relates to the salary and oh-by-the-way, about that title…
10. Keep your perspective. When you are on your deathbed and looking back on your life, how well you negotiated your job offer is going to matter very little. What is important is what job you take, what city you lived in, what you are able to do after you’re done with work, and who you’re able to do it with. If you keep that perspective you will have negotiated successfully.
The following items are commonly negotiable
• Accelerated review date
• Additional departments added to the job description
• Signing bonus
• CNOR certification completion bonus
• Conferences — AORN — OR Managers — Surgical Services Summit — ACHE
• Incentive bonus
• Temporary housing
• Expense account
• Start date/start date of benefit
• Vesting of pension/retirement
• Specific days off not counted against PTO
• Scope of role
• Pay grade i.e. Director of Surgical Services II v. Director of Surgical Services IV
• Tuition reimbursement
• Non-binding career pathing
• Permission to hire a Business Director of Surgical Services (or OR Educator, etc)
• Four-day work week
• Job for spouse
• Reduction/removal of call