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04/02/2018

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Thanks, Jim.

While your title provocatively poses the question as a dichotomy, I suspect that, in reality, the answer is probably "both!"

Kudos to the editors for choosing this "Classic" as this topic comes up again and again. We hear that at places like Google, "great" software developers can get paid multiple times higher than "good" developers. This is clearly an argument in favor of "person." And, because it's Google, then we should all hop on the bandwagon and replicate the concept within our own organizations, right?

So, the idea of the "person" and what they individually bring to the game has had a lot of traction, of late.

But, as you point out, there is the aspect of position, empowerment, and even effective organizational design. Some positions are designed/empowered better than others. Your skilled surgeon assigned to a position with ineffective decision rights and untenable spans-of-control will not succeed.

And, then there is the issue of internal equity.

It seems to me that Google can tolerate paying different individuals in similar roles radically different salaries only because their culture permits it. The fact that their median tenure is 12 months (https://deeptalent.com/blog/tenure-length-tech-titans-compared) probably helps, too!

But, thanks again for the post, Jim

Good observations, Joe. Glad you found my comments useful. Agree that the value proposition depends on "both". An incompetent incumbent rarely lasts long in a position with immense organizational leverage; and brilliant individual contributors find their pay trajectory plummets when they lose the platform that maximized their personal talents. Every experienced comp pro has seen many such cases. They all make sense.

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