The Real Cost of Mismanaged Incentives: Wells Fargo

untitledWell, so much for the warm-hearted caffeinated, pick-me-up from the Comp Café. Today is a steaming jolt of quadruple espresso in response to the Wells Fargo incentive pay mess. Let me start with the fact that I have been interviewed a few times about this story and even I was surprised by my response to the question, “What companies in the financial world are considered to have good incentive programs?” I answered that if I had been asked a few weeks ago, Wells Fargo would have been on the list. I guess it’s hard to know what you don’t know.

If you have been under a log for a couple of weeks, please start by reading a couple of earlier Compensation Café Articles (my own When Incentive Pay Goes Rogue! and Jim Brennan’s Excessively Successful Incentives). That foundation will help you understand the following summary.

A couple weeks ago, Wells Fargo was fined about $185 million for fraudulently opening millions of accounts. They also fired 5,300 employees and were the media poster-child for why incentive plans are terrible. At the very least, the plans in question ended up costing more than they delivered. In the past few days, the real costs of these programs are starting to reveal themselves. Recent developments are listed below. Continue reading

When Incentive Pay Goes Rogue!

untitledA friend of mine likes to say: “It’s not that incentive pay doesn’t work well, it’s that it works TOO well. It usually does exactly what it is designed to do, even if that wasn’t your intent.”

Wells Fargo just paid $185M in fines and penalties because its employees fraudulently opened additional accounting for people who were already customers. Often when issues like this arise, someone will blame pay programs. When this happens, compensation professionals usually Continue reading

When the Chef Visits Your Table

untitledSales compensation is an uncomfortable area for many compensation professionals. Many of us have never been professional sales people. Many of us don’t have the technical modeling expertise to flesh out these plans. The plans don’t operate the same way as most incentive plans. Sales people do not react to pay programs the same way as most other employees. Sales managers often are simply great sales people who have been put in charge of similar, but less great, sales people. Often we are tasked with supporting or communicating a plan when we have had little interaction during the fact finding and design phases. With all the being said, let’s talk about sales comp!

I recently spoke to a company that is Continue reading

Speed, Velocity and Acceleration in Pay

untitledI was reading a Facebook message a parent posted about their kid’s physics homework and it resonated as a reminder for the compensation world. The question was how do you explain the differences between speed, velocity and acceleration. A few years ago, I wrote an article about Newton’s Three Laws of Compensation Motion and I guess it’s time for another physics lesson.

Speed is a point on a graph. It tells you a whole bunch about an instant. Much of the data we use in compensation is like this.  We know exactly the amount or percentage, but we have little information regarding the path to that point. We feel like we somehow already have this information, but in most cases it’s a deception. Most pay data provides as little Continue reading

Silence Isn’t Golden

untitled1I hope your employees aren’t complaining about your compensation programs. If they are complaining out loud, then the problem has likely been there for a while and you need to address it post haste. But, that’s not what this article is about. We all can, and do, identify problems as they become vocal. I want to talk about compensation programs that people aren’t complaining about.

Most of us have been taught that silence is golden. That simply isn’t true in our line of business. When it comes to pay, if people aren’t talking about it then Continue reading

8 Ways the Minneapolis Skyway is Like Incentive Compensation

untitledThose of you who regularly read my articles know I often view the world from a different perspective. This is one of those posts. WorldatWork is the main professional association for total reward professionals. Each year they put on an excellent conference and this year was no exception. The theme for the event was “Grow.” The setting was Minneapolis, MN. The weather, as one might expect, was capricious. The conference had tons of great sessions and speakers, but the most important lesson I learned was from Minneapolis’ famous Skyway.

If you have ever been to Minneapolis, the Skyway is sort of a hamster “Habitrail” for humans. It is a system of above ground tunnels that provide shelter from the extreme weather conditions that residents call “seasons.”

After using the Skyway to get from my hotel to the conference site, I realized that the system was exactly like incentive compensation. Continue reading

Develop Grow Achieve – 3 Tiers for P4P

stockPay for performance continues to rise. However, the failure of pay for performance is rising almost as fast. As the discussion about best practices continues, I thought I would provide a few thoughts about an approach that may work for your employees.

Usually the drive for pay for performance comes from the top of the company. “We need to have people be more productive.” “I don’t want to have to pay people that much, unless they are REALLY doing a great job.” While these are valid concerns, we must Continue reading