Instant MBA: Pay Your Best Employees Well, Even If You Can't Afford It

Art Rooney Sr.

Photo: YouTube

Today’s advice comes from Art Rooney, the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, via Jeff Haden’s article at Inc.:“Let me teach you a lesson…you can never overpay a good player. You can only overpay a bad one.” 

It is difficult to overstate the value a great employee can add to one’s business. This year, we witnessed the rise of basketball superstar Jeremy Lin, whose presence on the court “upended the landscape for [Knicks] ticket brokers.”

“Great employees are worth a lot more — to your teams, to your customers, and to your bottom line — than average employees,” Haden writes. “Remarkable employees are worth dramatically more.”

So when you’re considering pay scales, industry benchmarks, and the ability to pay your outstanding employee beyond what is considered the norm, weigh in the invaluable impact this person will bring to the table. Haden suggests “pay[ing] them not just as if you want to keep them but as if you desperately need to keep them.”

“I don’t mind paying a good player $200,000. What I mind is paying a $20,000 player $22,000,” said Rooney. 

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