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May 18, 2021

Varsity Moves: MESOs for Managers

I LOVE MESOs.  As in, I desperately want a MESOs coffee mug to start my morning off right.  MESOs stands for “Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers” and is probably my favorite negotiation move because it is a simple, elegant way to uncover what is most valuable to the other party, while maintaining equal value for yourself.

Much of what we talk about is targeted towards helping when you are the one doing the asking.  I want to talk about MESOs in a different context – when you are the manager negotiating with your employees.  MESOs is an easy (free!) way to increase their engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.

Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers are exactly that – you are going to give the person you are negotiating with options.  That person is going to think you are fabulous, because you are giving them a chance to choose.  However, ALL of the options will be advantageous to you, and you will be indifferent between them.

For example, I gave an offer to a new team member last year.  Rather than the traditional offer letter, I presented her with three options (see below).  In option 1, she was paid the least, but had the most PTO and additional benefits.  In option 3, she was paid the most, but had the least PTO and additional benefits.  Option 2 was the “in between” option. 

This works well because it recognizes that different people need different things at different times in their lives.  Maybe she’s saving up for graduate school, and can still be on her parents’ insurance, so she values money more than time right now – Option 3 is best for her.  Maybe she has a young kid so great health insurance and numerous days off are important to her – Option 1 would be the best. Either way, she gets to choose the package that gives her the most value, instead of me choosing for her.  She was delighted to have a choice, and that built a lot of goodwill before she even started. 

This was great for me – I had a dedicated and happy employee – and it was great for her.  Win/win.

Example is illustrative, not the actual offer.

 Option 1Option 2Option 3
Base Salary$50,000$55,000$60,000
PTO DaysFederal Holidays + 15Federal Holidays + 12Federal holidays + 10
Additional Benefits$400/mo$200/mo$0/mo

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