Take good care of the cache of credibility you have established with those you advise, because it is essential for your success. Those presented with compensation proposals won’t accept the recommendations unless they trust the provider. Anything that erodes the faith the enterprise has in their total rewards leader’s judgment can cripple the ability to launch and implement effective programs.
For compensation leaders to be persuasive, they must maintain and preserve their credibility. Therefore, don't blow your believability backlog, or expend your trust reserve account wisely. Bad advice or unwarranted guesses can undercut the confidence your “clients” have in you and may make your future work more difficult. One does not have to be a consultant to have “clients” whose reluctant support must be earned. The skeptical constituents you serve could be a CEO, various members of top management, a group of supervisors, or employees in general.
Everyone distrusts what they don't clearly understand, and compensation is frequently one of those problematic areas. Whatever reservoir of trust you have built up over time should be conserved for really important issues rather than carelessly squandered making wild assertions that will swiftly and easily fall apart under challenge.
Maintaining that necessary condition of credibility is an important challenge. As everyone here knows, almost everything we do in this profession deals with communications. Each report on total rewards carries information, ideally also including proof that backs up any assertion or conclusion. As the comp professional supplies advice, their proposals are continually judged for accuracy, appropriateness and (occasionally) even wisdom. Sometimes the “most right” answer to a question is “I don’t know.” In that case, the next duty would probably be to conduct research to check out the facts. Honest attempts to respond appropriately to challenges and a sincere willingness to resolve differences in opinions should go far in establishing trust. Creating a climate where such belief in the integrity of the messenger exists is vital to survive and thrive in this area of total rewards management.
More often than not, the final outcome of suggestions made by compensation professionals depends on the credibility of the source. If your “clients” don’t believe you, no recommendation will be persuasive. With a strong record of consistently correct calls behind you, doubters may be convinced to give your most outlandish ideas a chance; but in the absence of a positive record history, acceptance of a new idea will always be doubtful. For those reasons, the readers here should cultivate a reputation for precision, accuracy, forthrightness and honesty, in order to establish the necessary foundation for the successful adoption of truly important risky ventures.
What has been your experience?
E. James (Jim) Brennan is Senior Associate of ERI Economic Research Institute, the premier publisher of interactive pay and living-cost surveys. After over 40 years in HR corporate and consulting roles throughout the U.S. and Canada, he’s pretty much been there done that (articles, books, speeches, seminars, radio/TV, advisory posts, in-trial expert witness stuff, etc.), serves on the Advisory Board of the Compensation and Benefits Review and will express his opinion on almost anything.
Creative Commons image "Trust" by Terry Johnston