Should we each be loyal enough to our company to have a straight up conversation about compensation with our boss or manager?
Jeffery Dingle teaches us, “You can't just let that conversation happen to you.” You have to create a case for your career, for your raise, in your day to day activity. You have to understand how you fit in an organization and how your performance impacts other people's performance. And that allows your boss to see you as a major cog in the engine that's driving the whole business.
You cannot be that guy or gal that’s just showing up, doing the same thing every day, and then expect to make more just because you've hung around for a year. If you're producing the same value for the company today that you produced 52 weeks ago, and nothing's improving, nothing's expanding, and you're not bringing more value…
Jeffery Dingle is the VP of Global Strategic Sales for Jacobs Engineering Group headquartered in Atlanta, GA. In his nearly 13 years in engineering, he's worked on projects like the 1996 Olympic venues and infrastructure, the Hartsfield Jackson, Atlanta international airport, and dozens of major transportation and water capital improvement programs.
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Connecting Communities, Continuing the Mission
What is up, everybody? Welcome to session 15 of the Raise Up Podcast. My name is Amanda LeFever, and I'm here to help you make more money at your job. And today we have in our corner, Mr. Jeff Dingle , he's a professionally registered civil engineer in seven States, and he's the vice president and global strategic sales leader for Jacobs Engineering Group in Atlanta, in his nearly 35 years in engineering, he's worked on projects like the 1996 Olympic venues and infrastructure, the Hartsfield Jackson, Atlanta International Airport, and dozens of major transportation and water capital improvement programs. He gives back, he chairs a number of civic and professional organizations, plus coaching youth football and baseball. Hey, Jeff, thanks for being on the show.Jeff:
No, good to be here, Amanda. Thank you for having me.Amanda:
Yeah, I'm really excited. So, first, I have to ask, like, COVID-19 has been rough on a lot of companies. How are your team and your family kind of coping with all of the shutdowns?Jeff:
Yeah. You know , I'll start with family, you know, the family's doing great. There, I have two adult kids there. My son is here with me. He's getting ready to finish his college career. But having him here has been good, and my daughter is doing well working from home in Manhattan. Workwise, I think, working for Jacobs, we've really taken advantage of the transformation to teleworking , and trying to use it as part of our culture enhancements. We've been making a very big focus on improving culture within Jacobs, and our chairman, CEO, has been hosting a weekly global town hall through the global pandemic. Basically, informing the population within Jacobs, what's going on in the business, how our folks are doing with COVID or various illnesses , that's our Jacob's family. But it's also been a great time of sharing and transparency. That's really been good for the firm, I think , and the firm was in good shape financially going in and we've made the right moves, I believe, to be able to hang in there during some tough times as COVID, as I'm settled in, and we're looking forward to getting back to work, and growing the firm again, our big emphasis is the preservation of our workforce. So, a lot of what we've been doing is focused on how do we keep our people in the firm, minimizing furloughs and things like that, but looks promising ahead. So, we're excited about that. And the clients continue to put out work. They're figuring out how to continue to expand their capital , targets, and budgets to keep the infrastructure going, and make sure that there's no blips in that. So, it's all good.Amanda:
That's awesome. I'm glad that they've been working so hard to keep the workforce. I know that for a lot of people, they've been struggling because they have lost their jobs, and some of the companies haven't had a huge emphasis on taking care of their people. So that's really impressive that Jacobs has made that move. And you haven't been traveling either, right? We were talking about this a little bit, but you're usually on the road.Jeff:
I'm a guy that travels every week. I haven't been on an airplane since the first week of March, and I don't mind it. I don't mind not traveling for sure. I miss the face to face interactions. Of course, it's kinda my job, and I really do enjoy it, I have the passion for people, and I like to interact and work, you know, work sessions are different now as opposed to being in a room and up on a whiteboard , capturing thoughts and developing strategies, but we're figuring out how to do it virtually, and because we have to . So, it's amazing what you do when you have to .Amanda:
Yeah. And the technology too. I mean, Zoom has been amazing for so many people. I don't know if you guys use zoom, but platforms like Zoom have just really helped everybody still collaborate and meet in a different way. So , as you know, our show is all about someone improving their financial situation, getting a raise at their job. And Jacobs is a global engineering firm. If a young engineer came to you as a mentor and said, Jeff, I know this is a tough time, but I believe I've earned a raise . How would you recommend they go about making that happen?Jeff:
Right. Well , you know, I think I'd first try to go back if I wasn't aware of what they've been doing to position themselves for a raise because you don't just ask for a raise without, some history, and I think it's important that they set the parameters early. We've, and again, just to refer to Jacobs again, we've been trying to do a better job of making sure that performance expectations are laid out at the beginning of the year. That everybody's doing that, that people are not procrastinating on it. We put heavy pressure on people managers to make sure that expectations are set. So, that at the end of the year, there should be no surprises, and that's probably almost cliche', but it really has to work like that. And the employee, if I was mentoring employees, like you, I would go back on how they worked with their supervisor at the beginning of the year on what was expected of them. And then, at this time of the meeting, what were they delivering? You know, how did they do, how did you position yourself to get that raise? I think it's also important to understand where your salary fits with your peers as well. And there's research,you can do , most companies that the HR department will at least give people a range of what you should be receiving at your level. You need to go into meetings like that, ready to go. So, I'd be asking questions about, so what have you done up to now that makes you deserving of a raise, and how much are you looking for? You know, and what are you basing that on? And I would help them prepare to have a business conversation because it really is a business conversation. If you've been working on a group of projects that haven't made money for the firm. If you're working for a private consulting firm or something if you've not been profitable if you haven't been successfully delivering success stories for your clients. And if you're not in demand by your clients, if they don't want to see you back again, as a practitioner, whatever you're doing. There's you asking for a raise is when a boss looks at that business decision, what is the rate of return I get from this person? Is this person a high performer and helps me grow my business? And therefore, I should be sharing some of that, that growth and profit with this employee. Or is this somebody that's actually a drain on the business? They're not making the company money. You have to know where you're positioned in that , to justify a raise. So, you know, I would ask them about the groundwork they set, and how they prepared themselves, and what their brand looks like, their personal brand. What does Jeff Dingle look like in Jacobs ? What is his image? What do people know about his performance or lack there? So , it would be a lot of questions for me. If someone came and asked about the raise.Amanda:
You had said something about like your personal brand , like, what does Jeff Dingle will look like in the holistic picture of Jacobs? And can you talk more a little bit about that? Like what you do to make sure that your personal brand is , is showing well?Speaker 3:
You know, probably the baseline of it is delivering what I say I'm going to deliver or doing what I say I'm going to do. Being dependable and being somebody that acts with the high level of integrity , predictable outcomes. Probably my best boss told me at the beginning of the first year I worked with Dan, was in a sales role under him. He told me, at the end of the year, I just want you to give me what you say you're going to give me as far as performance. I'm not gonna stretch you into something that you don't feel comfortable with. When we have a dialogue at the beginning, as I talked about, it's important to set that tone at the beginning of the year. You know, if you say that you're going to deliver this amount, and we agreed that, that that's an accurate , adequate contribution to the overall sales group goal , that's all from you.Jeff:
And, you know, I don't want excuses and things like that. You know, he was tough. He was a tough boss, but he was very fair. And I appreciated what I learned from him because it's it really running a business, any kind of business, you need predictable outcomes. So, if your business is based on people, you have to be somebody that is part of that. And , branded as such that if I give you responsibility for some sort of activity, that's important to the business, I want to be able to not think about it every single day as a boss. I want to be able to look more comprehensively. I want to layout vision. I don't want to be worried about the day to day activity that Jeff Dingle is performing that to reach those goals. So, you know , predictable outcomes , good team work that's important. I think collaborative , are sometimes tough to define in our current culture, people that work together and help each other be successful is a very valued asset to most employers. So, that there's a mentoring going on at every level. So, if you're someone that has seen that, that your actions actually spread to other people's actions that people emulate, how you interact, and how you perform, that's all the better and helps the organization better. So , your brand is, like I said, it's really how people view you, but how you, how you're seen as impacting the business. Not that you're just a nice person or that you come to work with a smile every day. Are you aggressive when you need to be aggressive? Do you go with the group when you need to go with the group? Do you support your peers? Do you , are you frank in criticism when there needs to be criticism? When you see something, do you say something, or do you sit back and let the group or the company go down bad paths? Are you engaged in trying to steer? That doesn't mean that you're trying to take somebody's job or above them necessarily, but it means that you care about the business, and you will take business actions upon yourself as a responsibility to help the team and the firm do better. So, the people feel like you're doing that, it's it frames up again, when they think about, okay, I have this amount of money to spend on raises, who am I going to give the most? You know, how am I going to spread that around? So , yeah .Amanda:
Right. What do you think has set you apart? What do you think that you've done in your career that's really set you apart from your peers or kind of helped your trajectory?Jeff:
You know, I think I've been able to listen and process, and so, I've been able to learn my craft. I've been focused on learning my craft. When I started off as a young engineer, I spent a lot of time not being a hotshot, graduate engineer. I tried to keep a proper level of humility in everything that I did and bring a good work ethic to the table. So, it allowed me to learn and the older women and men that I was working with, I think they saw that attitude, and it made me more attractive for them to pour into me what they knew. I didn't come in with this arrogant attitude that turned people off. I wanted to contribute to the success of the group that I worked in when I first started. So, I like to think I'm in my 34th year now; I like to think that I know what I'm doing in the business I'm in. I stuck in this engineering business because I understand it, and I believe it. I've learned how to engage with clients. So, I'm heavily engaged in strategy. I bring a level of what I call strategic aggression based on how I basically grew up in the neighborhood. But I use that to , what I call, reach people, where they are. So, when I have to interact with somebody that has a different attitude than I do or has some sort of issue with the firm I w ork for, or me as a person, you know, I try to find common ground as fast as possible. And sometimes that's listening to what their concerns are, and asking them questions on what issues they see within the firm , from prior experiences. So , I find myself able to understand people's expectations and then craft a strategy to meet those expectations. Because your customer, again , it's cliche', the customer really is always right. You know, if your client is hiring you to do performance service , you need to fully understand what they're looking for and how they're looking for it to be delivered. So, probably my best strength is understanding people , so that understanding people helped me learn my craft. It made people comfortable teaching me and mentoring me, and as I learned my craft , being able to spread that knowledge base with the people that I was working with. Because I understood how they were trying to learn as best, I could as well. So, that their uptake was faster. So, I believe that I've been able to lead effective groups. And with my clients, I do listen and discern sometimes, you the words they say or when you combine them with the body language. And just the feel that you get from them gives you a more comprehensive understanding of what they're really looking for and allows you to bring those outcomes that they're expecting. And that's what starts defining success, I think.Amanda:
Yeah, it sounds like the role of relationships has really been huge in your success and also like the success of your clients and the company you work for as well. I do want to ask, will you tell us a little bit more about strategic aggression? I've never heard that before.Jeff:
Well, quite frankly, I grew up in neighborhoods that, you know, they were a bit challenging. There were drugs and gangs and neighborhoods that I grew up in , and there were bullies, there were lots of influences that could have gotten me off track. And, as a kid, and sometimes I had to humble myself and work around some things. Sometimes, you have to learn to verbalize your position, and sometimes you have to face bullies, verbally , and talk your way out of situations, and sometimes you have to fight. And I had two older brothers, and we all kind of sharpen our swords against one another. We told each other, and still, tell each other, we'll never lose a fight outside of this house. You might take one within the house, but you know, I'm not a violent person, I know how to defend myself, and I'm confident that I can defend myself. So, growing up, I knew when I needed to turn around and go another direction or navigate through something verbally, or if I had to scrap, I had to scrap. And you grow up like that, not being willing to just slink in and be bullied and be passive. I grew up understanding when I needed to push, and what I needed to pull, and as I grew up older and older and I think I apply it more now, it's the same thing at work. I'm not having fist fights at work, of course, I don't have fist fights anyway, I'm too old for that. But you know, when somebody is pushing back when you're in a spirited conversation, shall we say, if you're in an argument if you're working through a dispute , either with a client or with a teaming partner or the competitor. You have to know when to push, and when to listen, and when to pull back, when to pull information out of someone so that you can better understand. All of those tactics a re what I call my terms of strategic aggression. You know when to fight, and there used to be a song you're probably too young to remember, I think it was Kenny Rogers, and you know when to hold'em and k now when to fold'em.Amanda:
I know that song, that's a good song.Jeff:
That's important; you need to know you can't address every situation the same way. You have to be strategic about how you address every situation. Everyone is different in your relationships, you and your husband, you know , your relationships with peers, relationships with competitors , you have to know how to reach people where they are. And if somebody is coming at you strong and aggressive, sometimes it's important to match that level of aggression, or sometimes it's to diffuse the situation by trying to hear. If you can feel like they're really trying to get something across, sometimes just listening diffuses it and calms people down. That sometimes matching their level of aggression, lets them know that this is inappropriate and it's unacceptable to you, and that'll deescalate things sometimes. But you just gotta find a way to reach common ground. I use strategic aggression tactics, you know, maybe I should patent that term out.Amanda:
You should. It's really good. There's a lot of people that completely avoid conflict in all ways and forms. So, yeah. You feel that way?Jeff:
I believe that's a mistake, I think conflict brings, most of the time brings positive outcomes unless that conflict makes someone stand down completely, and you don't want conflict to be that. You want conflict to be something that builds respect and or agreement. So, just summarily backing down because someone's not on the same level of aggression that you might be at that moment, is not usually a win-win situation seed. So , I think we should all be more transparent and frank with one another to gain better understanding. Cause we all bring diverse viewpoints to every situation, and we need to be listening to one another. And if you slink back, if you don't engage in those courageous conversations , the learning stops. So, I'm just a believer in direct engagement and transparency. I don't have anything to hide, and I'm not looking for dirt on anybody else, but I do want to understand people so that I can bring value to them in whatever engagement I'm involved in.Amanda:
So, a lot like a "Radical Candor." Have you ever read that book before? No, it's really good. And it talks a lot about how important conflict can be for an organization, and collaboration, and just relationships in general. And so, I like strategic aggression though, better, I think.Jeff:
Yeah. I'll have to read "Radical Candor." I'll put that on my list for sure.Amanda:
Yeah, it's a good one. So, a lot of our guests have talked about laying groundwork with your boss for any conversation about compensation, but so many things are decided by like a committee in a business. Is there any need to do upfront relationship work with other influencers like a CFO or other people who might, you know, have a say in whether or not you're going to get a raise?Jeff:
Absolutely. Yeah, you need to make yourself known as high up in the organization as you can get. That doesn't mean that you're always ringing your own bell and bragging about all the great things that you're doing. Because various levels of the organization see that in different ways. And so, I think yes , you do need to understand the parameters of compensation, and if it is a committee situation, you definitely need to know that going in. You need to establish that at the beginning of the year, you can ask your boss that during your setting of expectations meeting at the beginning of the year, that we try to have, in Jacobs. You can ask, how's 12 months from now? How's it going to get determined who gets the highest percentage raise? You can ask those kinds of questions, and make your boss be transparent or go get the transparency. I think those are all very appropriate means of being aggressive in your organization, understanding what the parameters are. Once you understand the parameters, if the parameters are based on six people, you need to be visible with those six people, and not just seen as scrambling around, but somebody that's bringing value again, bringing value to the organization and contributing to their success. How are you making your boss's boss successful? How does your boss's boss understand how their entire business unit is benefiting because of the work you're doing? Those are all incredibly important brand things. I have seen situations where a list of employees comes up to a VP, senior VP level of an organization, and decisions are literally made on, well, I know John, Sally, and Heather , they've been heavily engaged, and I've seen them. So , but what about these other people tell me, what's going on with these other people? And when they have to ask questions like that, the number almost automatically starts going down, right? And unless your boss is able to really advocate for you or remind them of something, they didn't really know about that they're evaluating, but you don't want to be in that other group. So, what about these other people? You don't want to be in that group, those are the tail of the dog, for sure.Amanda:
So, do you have any raise stories? Usually, we'll ask people if they have any war stories about how they've asked for a raise or someone that they know has gone through a compensation, funny conversation?Jeff:
I have one that I actually heard about , they were kind of a peer . They were in a parallel business unit, but I knew this person, and they were pretty rambunctious, they had been with us for a couple of years. This is with the previous firm I worked for. And they had been with us a couple of years, and they came in like a fireball, and they're all fired up, and very aggressive. I don't know if it was always strategic, but they were very aggressive, and I remember hearing the story, how they came to their performance evaluation with three offer letters because they had been shopping other jobs. That they could leave if they didn't get what they wanted in the company that we were working at . And that was not well received because it felt like they were leveraging other companies' promise of compensation. Sometimes you might have to do that, but this person was not at a level where that was really necessary. And while that person did get a raise, they seemed to be happy with the raise they got. Their career really sputtered in that organization. It was a small firm, and they tainted their relationship, they tainted their reputation by using that tactic that they weren't loyal enough to have a straight-up conversation about compensation based on their merits within that firm. They tried to leverage a firm taking a chance on them and maybe giving them a little more money than they were making to get them to come over. And , so it was a short term, relatively effective tool that they got on a few percentages raise, but they didn't do well the rest of their time.Amanda:
Right. Like in the end, it ended up souring.Jeff:
They went over the tipping point of strategic aggression to just aggression.Amanda:
Yeah. Kind of poisoning the well. Well, is there anything else that you'd kind of like to add to this whole national conversation about getting a raise?Jeff:
The biggest thing I would say is you just can't just let it happen, let that meeting happen. You really have to create what that meeting is going to look like in your day to day activity and your day to day work in your day to day performance. Understand how you fit in an organization and how your performance impacts other people's performance and allows them to see you as a major cog in the engine that's driving the whole business. And not just somebody that's hanging on and showing up, whatever month of the performance evaluation expecting more compensation because they've hung around for a year, just because you hang around for 12 months, does not necessarily mean that you deserve additional compensation. If you've been having the same week of performance every 52 weeks of the year, and nothing's improving, nothing's expanding. You're not bringing more value. I can pretty much bet if your organization is having any level of success, somebody is doing better than you, and you need to be in that group, people really fully understand the value of what they're doing, as opposed to the percentage of staff that people started looking at, maybe we need to upgrade here, never be in the upgrade category with your boss, right? Always be that performer that they can depend on. Again, like I say, presenting those predictable outcomes. When I start off the year, I know Amanda's going to provide five things that we talked about, and I don't have to worry about it, I really believe she's going to come in. And when she shows up, I'm thinking of her in the top tier of the compensation pool that I have to spend in my business. So, that's my best. I frame it up day in and day out. Don't wait. Don't just let it organically happen. These things don't happen organically. They take proactive work and diligence for sure.Amanda:
And asking the questions too , like you had said, ask those probing questions at the beginning of the year when you're setting expectations. So, what does this look like, and how do I get there? I think that's where we, we miss a lot of it. Like you had said, it doesn't happen organically. We want it to; we want to not have to ask.Jeff:
We just want to hang around for 12 months and get more money in the 13 months that doesn't work like that.Amanda:
Right. Okay. So, how can people connect with you? Like if they want to have a conversation or just connect with you overall? Cause you're awesome, and this has been amazing.Jeff:
Yeah. I'm on LinkedIn, Jeffery is my first name, Dingle. I'm always glad to interact; I use LinkedIn to do my professional networking like most do so that's probably the best.Amanda:
Awesome. Well, Jeff, thank you so much for being on the show. You've provided a lot of great information, and I love strategic aggression and predictable outcomes. I'm going to use those terms. I'll give you credit. I'll give you credit.Jeff:
I had a very pleasant experience in my first podcast, so I appreciate you, AmandaAmanda:
You did awesome. You did so good. Thank you. Thank you.