Do you remember the storyline from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar? Or at least the good part, when the Senators surrounded him and commenced with the assassination? "Et tu, Brute?" is one of the most famous lines of all the bard's illustrious plays ("You Too, Brutus?").
Now let me test your memory a bit further. Do you recall the warning a soothsayer had sent to Caesar the morning of that fateful day, just as he was departing for the Roman Senate? "Beware the Ides of March" was the simple message. That day was the Ides (15th) and the fortune teller had reached out with Shakespeare's premonition.
It was a verbal red flag that was ignored, to Caesar's ultimate ruin.
Your Own Warning
We're now approaching that same fateful date in the calendar again, and yes, there's another warning flag being waved, but this time for you. Because on or about the Ides of March you will have probably wrapped up your reward program administration efforts for last year, 2016. The annual incentive checks likely have been distributed, merit increases have been granted, and whatever changes took place in your salary structure and merit spend have been communicated and implemented.
With luck you have already launched your 2017 incentive programs and have the business and employee objectives (mostly) completed.
Whew. Time for a break?
Not so fast.
In the annual Compensation calendar there is usually a period of approximately six months (mid-March to mid-September) when your efforts are your own, not on automatic pilot. When you're not committed to a series of annual projects to close out the old year and welcome in the new one. So right about now you've completed wrapping up 2016, started 2017 but haven't yet had to start the planning cycle for the year to come.
You're now looking at a period of (relative) quiet that you can use to your advantage if you grasp for it. Here is the time to analyze, research, recommend and just kick the tires on new thinking, potential new/revised programs and alternative processes that could provide improvements to your reward programs. ROI gains and payroll cost savings could be had. And if you have your own annual objectives to deal with, now would be the time to focus your efforts.
But that's if you take the time to focus. Because your window of opportunity will close within six months, which is all too soon in most cases. And that clock has already started ticking down.
Better get to it.
Fritter Away at Your Peril
Chances are reasonable that you will have certain tasks/projects to complete this year. And probably not a lot of time to get things done without scrambling. Perhaps you need to rethink your sales incentive scheme, or your metrics dashboard has a red light or two flashing. You could be facing compliance issues or other friction points in your reward programs that you've put off addressing for too long already.
But I hope that you won't be like Caesar and ignore the cautionary flags being waved at you. Today they're likely a yellow alert, just to get your attention. By the time they become a flashing red in the middle of vacation season it may be too late to accomplish what you intended/was expected of you. Or at least in a quality manner.
Procrastination and delay will not be your friends, so please make the most of the time you have before those automatic pilot projects start up again in September (or even earlier).
No one likes to play catch-up, especially with important projects, and the frantic efforts that would be involved (all-hands-on-deck strategy) rarely work out well, for you or the organization.
So consider me your own personal soothsayer and listen to the words being whispered in your ear.
Remember the Ides of March!
Chuck Csizmar CCP is founder and Principal of CMC Compensation Group, providing global compensation consulting services to a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. He is also associated with several HR Consulting firms as a contributing consultant. Chuck is a broad based subject matter expert with a specialty in international and expatriate compensation. He lives in Central Florida (near The Mouse) and enjoys growing fruit and managing (?) a clowder of cats.
Creative Commons image,"Curved Perspective," by Joel Kramer