One of the more amusing experiences I've had in my career, first as a corporate practitioner and then as a global consultant, was to hear from some HR Generalists and Line Managers that my job was easy. "Just flip the pages of any survey until you find the job you're interested in, and there you go. Bob's your uncle."
In other words, anyone could do this. Why should we pay you (consultant), or internally, just how high should your grade (job value) be, anyway? This isn't rocket science.
I suppose though, that it can be easy enough to find the desired figure. Whether it's the right figure is what's at stake. And do you know what that figure means in the context of your organization, and therefore what you should do next? Flipping more pages won't help.
The Value of Everyman
What can make matters worse is the presumption from some in the newbie and wannabe crowd that, with just a seminar or classroom exercise behind them they're ready to advise senior management on competitive compensation realities and coming trends. All because "The survey says," and because after flipping a few pages they picked out a figure. Yes, a figure.
A piece of cake. Having any figure at all is a compelling attraction over having only a blank sheet of paper. Somehow even a questionable figure gains credibility when it's written down.
Let's take this anyone-can-do-it scenario out and look at it for a minute. Kick the tires a bit. How would you feel about handling your own plumbing, or perhaps home electrical work? There are how-to textbooks out there. Or try to sell your home on your own, or to install a new roof. At some point, you're likely to say that there are too many risks, too many possible negative consequences associated with certain DIY projects, that you can see the value of bringing in the experts.
Especially when your work might be challenged, when you might be called upon to defend what you've done. Maybe not everyone agrees that your analysis was a piece of cake.
I mean, what can go wrong for Everyman?
- How many surveys did you use? Multiple surveys give different answers. Why? Why did you pick certain figures and not others?
- What about regional, industry or sizing differentials? Did you/should you age the data?
- How reputable are those surveys anyway? How many companies participated?
- Are the job matches 100%, or more commonly not? How did you handle the dual hat jobs?
- Did you have to build a salary structure to reflect the market data? Can you defend that structure? Have jobs and employees been successfully integrated?
- How do you evaluate jobs fairly, competitively and without bias? What if you're challenged?
- What do the competitive figures tell you, and what should be your next steps?
This list of questions/challenges can go on and on, as I've only touched the surface of what you might face from a dubious senior leadership. Do you remember the Inquisition? Nasty stuff.
So perhaps not everyone can properly do justice to meeting your compensation needs. Perhaps there is value in utilizing experienced help.
The Value of Experience
When I first put out my own shingle as a global consultant a friend made a joking comment about how my grey hair made me suitable. "You've been around the block a few times and you look like you know what you're talking about."
Humor aside, my friend was correct about a critical element; experience is a valued commodity that cannot be gained in the classroom, or through any number of textbooks or by quoting some professor. Experience comes from facing the hard knocks of actually doing the work, time and time again. Of having dirt under your fingernails from living in the trenches. Because while repetitive effort creates the efficiencies of sameness, it's the professional seasoning that opens your eyes to the multiplicity of possible solutions that are out there. Because every organization and every client is different from the last, or from the next.
Experienced practitioners can offer ideas, trends, anecdotes and numerous real-life experiences of how others have dealt with the same problem your organization is currently facing.
The newbie and wannabe will offer a single pathway forward because that's all their scant experience is capable of. They possess little depth, breath or developed competencies that can offer up alternative options for you to consider.
There will always be others pathways to take.
So go ahead and flip those survey pages if you like. The figures are all there. Just understand the risk you're taking.
Personally, I like a bit of grey hair on my tradesmen, airline pilots, and doctors.
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, "Cat-reading-glasses-with-paper," by Floho67