“I wish this book had been around decades ago…it’s a must have”

Peggy Andrews, PhD, SPHR, Lecturer in Management & Leadership Curriculum Coordinator at Hamline University School of Business recently reviewed “Everything in Compensation is Communication.” the new books from pay exerts Dan Walter, Ann Bares and Margaret O’Hanlon.

Here’s what Ms. Andrews had to say:

“I wish this book had been around decades ago when I started my career – it’s a must have..and one I recommend to all my management students”

“In my 20+ years of experience in HR and Organizational Consulting, I have seen 3 typical reactions to compensation discussions depending on who is leading the charge.”

  1. Overexcitement about the mysteries of spreadsheets and micro-changes in numbers (Finance);
  2. Order-taking (HR Administrators);
  3. Feigned boredom as a cover-up for nervousness/fear (Unskilled Managers and HR Staff). 

The result is that far too many organizations have legally compliant and operationally effective pay plans, yet are missing out on an incredible opportunity to use compensation dollars to communicate their business strategy to employees and build organizational performance.  Thankfully Bares, O’Hanlon and Walter have come to the rescue with this clever book that demystifies the process of designing and implementing a compensation program that will orient and motivate employees around organizational strategy and performance objectives.  With deceptive brevity and wit, this easy read provides a comprehensive outline that shows HR Professionals and Managers step-by-step how to engage stakeholders, identify the real compensation challenges and opportunities in your organization, bring employees into the conversation, and measure the effectiveness of your program.”

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: An Incentive Compensation Story

Stickman woulda coulda shouldaNot so long ago in a town not so far away, there was a growing company. Inside that company, worked a compensation professional (“Yolanda”) who juggled many projects. Not the least of them was the creation, design and management of the company’s long-term incentive program.

Yolanda was very good at her job. She planned her year well and executed with the precision of a heart surgeon. She brought creativity to her communications and structure to her base pay and Continue reading

Quick Fixes May Not Be Good Fixes

Stickman King TutRecently, it was reported that employees at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo accidentally broke the braided beard off of the iconic burial mask of King Tutankhamen. Even more disturbing is that the beard was quickly glued back on using common epoxy. To make matters even worse, the epoxy got on the face of the mask, leaving marks where it was hastily scraped off. Curators at the museum said they were told to make the repairs quickly since the mask is one of the main attractions (revenue generators) for the museum.

I have seen many broken incentive plans similarly repaired. Incentive plans are tightly Continue reading

The Mind Heart Body and Spirit of Total Rewards

Stickman Mind Heart Body SpiritWorld at Work defines Total Rewards as:

“All of the tools available to the employer that may be used to attract, motivate and retain employees. Total rewards include everything the employee perceives to be of value resulting from the employment relationship.”

We have invented more tools with corresponding rules, regulations and variations. And our employees have become more diverse. Explaining the totality of Total Rewards has become increasingly difficult for many in and Continue reading

The Beowulf of Compensation

Stickman BeowulfMost of you know of the poem Beowulf. Legend has it that it was passed down through oral performances for nearly 1,000 years before it was formally documented in Old English. The poem is long and provides details that most people skim through, if they read it at all. But, it is documented and any literate person can look it up and read if they are interested. The more ambitious can (and do) even memorize it and perform it live.

Let’s first state the obvious. No compensation plan, Continue reading

I Was Wrong. Pay for Performance Doesn’t Work!

Stickman I was wrong p4p doesnt workYou may want to disregard nearly everything I’ve ever posted here. As it turns out, I may not know anything about pay for performance. Recently, I brought someone new onto my team. This guy seemed like a great match for the position. He’s good looking, has a strong intellect along with a very unique skill set. He is exactly what we needed on the team. But now, a few weeks in, I am realizing that he is a narcissist. You may even call him a crybaby. The frustrating fact is that he simply isn’t motivated by any of the P4P Continue reading

Would You Like Mayo and Lettuce with that Noncompete?

Stickman Pay enough for noncompeteNoncompete clauses are often hard to enforce, but sometimes they still make sense. Heck, youcan’t really keep a person from making a living in their chosen field. But, a company has to be able to protect itself from employees who may steal customers, ideas, staff members or worse.

Noncompetes are not only hard on HR and legal departments; they can also be an issue for compensation professionals. At the most basic level, comp pros are paid to attract, motivate, retain and Continue reading

Want Results? Prove it!

Stickman Want Results Prove ItMost compensation professionals I know are very earnest in their desire to pay people as well as possible. They attend presentations, watch webinars, and review the latest article and the smart ones even read the Compensation Café. But, many of these same professionals admit a critical flaw that often makes all of their efforts useless. This problem is so common that it no longer surprises me when people cop to it. In fact, I am really only surprised by the small number of individuals or teams don’t have it.

Continue reading

New Book on Communicating Compensation Plans!

Everything You Do in Compensation is Communication: 3/8 of the Compensation Cafe Publishes a Book! …. $10 discount through September 30, 2014! (use code “8steps”)ewdic book cover w quote

About three years ago, a trio of cheeky compensation bloggers joined forces around an idea.  The insight that started it all – that everything (and we mean everything) we do in compensation is, in fact, communication.  When we talk and when we stay silent.  When we share details about how plans work and how awards are earned and when we keep it all under wraps.  The reality is that we are sending messages — inadvertently and often unintentionally — with every step of the compensation design, implementation and management process.

If this is true — and we believe it is — then why not get ahead of this communication process, take control and use it to make our compensation work better and more impactful?  And to increase our own influence and career success along the way?

Compensation Cafe cohorts Margaret O’Hanlon, Dan Walter and Ann Bares are pleased to announce the publication of our book.

Dreaming about ways that you can have more influence and impact in your work? To learn more and to order your own copy, please go here and get your copy today.

 

First Do No Harm

Stickman First Do No HarmPrimum non nocere. The Hippocratic Oath is one of the foundational elements of any doctor’s career. As it says on Wikipedia:

“Another way to state it is that, “given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good.” It reminds the health care provider that must consider the possible harm that any intervention might do. It is invoked when debating the use of an intervention that carries an obvious risk of harm but a less certain chance of benefit.”

Imagine if this was part of an oath that compensation professionals had to take in order to work in this industry. What would it mean to you? In the name of limited time, limited experience or just a feeling of resignation, some of us may make this a lower priority than we should.

Imagine if your heart surgeon or your child’s asthma specialist, simply stopped at “good enough.” Would you support them?

Like much in the world of medicine, compensation is part science and part art. Like a scientist, we must use the data we have available and make resolute decisions that are memorialized and can remain effective for a long time. Also like a scientist, we must be willing to accept new observations, data and change our decisions as needed.

Like an artist, we must be able to see what others may not and turn that into something tangible that can be appreciated by many. Also, like a successful artist, we must know when to stop fiddling and declare our work complete.

I was reminded of this recently while working with a client who does so much so right. When speaking to the CEO, my colleagues and I made it clear that an important objective of our project was not breaking anything that already worked well. But, the company is growing and its industry is rapidly evolving. Because they are the type of company so many people love to work for, they are planning for the future before it gets here. What a thought. Even better, what an action!

When looking at solving a problem using compensation, we must be fully aware of the potential impact any new program or change to a legacy approach may have on current successes. As a consultant, I often see new “solutions” that conflict with current practices or the company’s compensation philosophy.

Since we seldom fully analyze whether pay is actually doing what was intended, we often don’t have any idea what is or isn’t working. Without this knowledge, we are like a blindfolded doctor. Our skills and expertise may be up to the task, but we don’t give ourselves a chance to succeed.

We are often challenged and sometimes pressured into implementing changes where we have either limited supporting data or worse, no confidence in the program accomplishing its goals. Imagine if your doctor agreed to do surgery before they had ran tests. What if you were given medication before being thoroughly diagnosed?

Next time you are asked (told) to make a change to pay or roll out an entirely new compensation plan, make it clear what you need to do it before you confidentally proceed. Be aware of how the change will affect other components of HR, pay and overall management of your staff. Understand the potential downsides to any program that has fantastic upside. In other words: first do no harm.