How does HR contribute to an organization’s success?

Question: (org. on Quora)

Answer (by Dan Walter)

Whether you have an HR professional or not Human Resources is likely the single greatest contributor to your organizations success.

First. Unless your company is really large, HR controls more of your revenue than any other department.  At small and mid-sized company as much as 65-75% of revenue is used to pay staff and provide their benefits. This means that even small improvements in HR can result in material budget increases for other departments. Improvements in this area are often simply viewed as controlling pay or limiting staff. But, even better improvements may be gained by improving the perception of pay or creating a work environment where people actually do their best, instead of operating at three quarters of their potential.

Second. The best strategy and tactical planning in the world cannot be well executed by incompetent, uninterested or unmotivated people. Human Resources first goal is making sure you have the right people. Without them you will fail, 100% of the time.

Third. They protect you from the problems that come from the mercury poisoning of disgruntled employees and lawsuits that come (mostly) from disgruntled ex-employees. Whether it is mediating disputes, motivating personal and professional growth or simply documenting and enforcing policies that keep people from becoming injured, a good HR department has your back, by being out in front of things.

Fourth. Great HR build your company culture and communicate your company strategy. (poor HR departments may not do either.) Your company culture or personality drives employee (and often investor) perceptions. Perceptions are reality for most people. Every company’s strategy is clear to its founders. But communicating this strategy and how it will become reality requires a broader vision and understanding of human dynamics. The task of communication usually falls to HR. So your HR department is in charge of how your employees define reality and how you make it better.

This most could stretch many pages. It should also be noted that failure in each of the above items can directly lead to your company’s failure or stagnation.

What is the normal RSU policy for private companies? I recently got an offer from such company and they say that if I work for x years and I leave, I would get x more years to sell the RSUs otherwise they would expire. So if I leave after 1 year and no IPO in the next 2 years, I don’t get anything.

Question: (org. on Quora)

Answer (by Dan Walter)

The most common company policy for RSUs follows the basic structure below:

1) Award of RSUs, generally to be settled in stock when they vest (some companies convert the RSUs to cash)
2) Vesting schedule of 3 years (annually increments or cliff vested) (this period can vary widely).  Vesting is may also be restricted to ONLY occur after a period of time AND a liquidity event like and IPO or Change in Control. — this is becoming far more common.
3) When RSUs vest they are “converted” to real stock and delivered to the participant (or held in electronic book entry).
4) When the individual leaves the company the unvested RSUs are forfeited back to the company. The vested RSUs are now shares (usually of common stock) and the individual is therefore a shareholder.
5) Most companies let people who hold shares keep the shares.  They also usually restricted any transactions so the shareholders have little or no liquidity until a major event.
6) It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for companies to take back vested and delivered shares.  When they do they usually pay the individual the current market price.

NOTE:  There are a ton of exceptions to every single statement above.  The statements above may not represent the best strategy for every (or any) company. Equity compensation is Variable, Variable, Variable, Variable (and up to three more variables) compensation. The type of equity, the number of shares/units/options/etc., the price at the time granted, the price when vested, the currency at the start and end, the vesting schedule and several other components can all be variable within a single award. “Normal” is often not synonymous with “best”.

What are the arguments for establishing long term incentive plan metrics that are different than those tied to the annual incentive plan?


What are the arguments for establishing long term incentive plan metrics that are different than those tied to the annual incentive plan?

Answer (by Dan Walter)

Great question!

There are several arguments for clear differentiation between the metrics used for annual incentive plans and LTI plans.

1)   The first concern is that overlapping metrics can create too much leverage for a specific objective, or tie too much risk to a potential goal.   Ex. When your short term goals are revenue and profit margin and your long term metric is EBITDA you are essentially incenting the same thing twice.  This may result in people no longer focusing on other critical factors.  And if there is a big swing up or down it may blow up your compensation strategy and budget.

2)   Another concern is that certain metrics are more valid and less volatile over several years. The wide swings in some metrics from year to year may be good when getting people to focus on the immediate horizon, but they may not align with a compensation philosophy that is intended to align employee or executives with shareholders.

3)   Some metrics are the result of a longer term cycle of Decision, Action, Behavior, Result. Focusing people on the entire cycle, rather rewarding each component individually may get them to see the big picture in a new way. Example: Company realizes its internal software for supporting the business is out of date and needs to be replaced.  The process requires finding the right replacement, getting it built or set up, rolling it out, then managing the tool and users to ensure they get the most out of it. Without a long-term program for the whole process you may get a series of results that take down a hole of failure.  Imagine: Decision to get new software is delayed because there is not short-term metric for it this year. The next year the decision to get new software controlled by a short-term budget goal that must be met, even though the software will be a long term investment.  The cheaper software requires far more work in year 2 or 3 to get installed correctly and it conflicts with the annual incentive plan in that year, so corners are cut to get a ”simpler” version put in place. The simpler version turns out to be less effective that the old software (which you are still using). A partial roll out occurs and is immediately followed by outcries that the new software is terrible. The team meets and decides to start all over again.  In the means time 4 or 5 years of annual incentive payments were made because each small piece seemed to be achieved, but no concept of the successful long-term deliverable was included in the pay program.

4)   Certain types of LTI programs (example:  equity plans) have a far different impact than short-term plans. These plans also rely on metrics like stock price that are built into the plan but not directly controllable by the individuals. Metrics for these programs need to account for the different “nature” of the plan and compensation instrument itself.

eHarmony Gets It! It’s About Professional Relationships

12 pillars sunset square (2)In today’s news, eHarmony announced that they are planning to expand from personal to professional matchmaking. Performensation has long held that finding the right people to work for your company is attuned to online dating. Like finding your true love, every employee wants to work at a company that “gets him or her”.

In the past, many employers held the power position. Companies believed that if they were providing jobs that paid a fair wage with decent working conditions, then people should be happy to work for them.  In today’s world, this is no longer enough. Just like Continue reading

Sales Compensation in a World of Solutions

Sales Comp in a World of SolutionsMany companies today know that customers are looking for more value. Haven’t you found that selling a simple product or service just doesn’t feel like “enough” anymore? Are you wondering how to adjust your strategy to increase your future success? With technology becoming increasingly complex, your customers need additional help understanding how things fit together.

As a case in point, Continue reading

What’s the Right Size for Private Company Equity Compensation?

T shirtThe most common question asked about equity compensation is only two words: “How much?” For private companies, it is frustratingly hard to answer. The crux of every equity compensation conversation is how much to give. The answer leads to the best equity instrument to use, features of the plan, expected exit strategy, or time to liquidity. Determining levels for private companies is never as simple as Continue reading

Executive Pay Claw backs – Things Just (Almost) Got Real!

Clawbacks - the SEC is serious - image (2)The date: July 1, 2015.

The place: Washington D.C.

The situation: The SEC proposes rules for executive compensation claw back provisions required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The SEC has finally proposed the long-awaited rules for executive pay claw back. Rule 10D-1 describes who, what, when and how “erroneously awarded executive compensation” must be returned to the company.

Who: The net is fairly deep and broad.

Recovery would be required from Continue reading

Is Your Company Lying About Pay?

untitled3David Larcker and Anastasia Zakolyukina did some research in 2012 for the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University. Luckily, it recently made its way back into circulation. The paper, “Detecting Deceptive Discussions in Conference Calls”, attempts to predict the level of deception or truthfulness of CEO communications to shareholders. They found “that the answers of deceptive executives have more references to general knowledge, fewer non-extreme positive emotions, and fewer references to shareholder value. In addition, deceptive CEOs use significantly more extreme positive emotion and fewer anxiety words.”

1)     Less truthful CEOs tend to Continue reading

1.8 Million Reasons NOT to Become CEO

1point8 million reasons not to work-f2 (2)Being the CEO of a company is a great job, if you can get it. It’s an even better job if you can be paid NOT to get it!

Coty is the multinational beauty manufacturer of brands such as: Calvin Klein fragrances, Davidoff perfumes, Adidas Bodycare, and Sally Hansen nail care products. The company has just announced that it must pay someone $1.8 million even though they didn’t actually work as the company’s CEO. How in the world can this happen? Let me explain. Continue reading

HR Can’t Afford to Ignore Compensation

whiteboard lightbulb dollarsign (2)A generous person gave three business partners $1 million and said they could use it however they wanted. The only caveat was that the business plan allocated 70% of the money to predetermined overhead. This could be reduced to as little as 55% if the partners planned and executed carefully. While all three individuals agreed to accept the money, they had very different ideas on what to do with it. Continue reading