I have an urge to write about what I know now, in 2016, that I wish I had known back then (you know, in the last century). I think it's because it's my first day back on the job in the new year. Putting up the new calendar for the next twelve months, I always find myself wondering what else is going to be new this year.
If you find yourself in the early part of your career as 2016 begins, here are a few suggestions that can help you, I bet. And if you're long past the early days of your career, why not add your own suggestions?
If senior practitioners look for help, give it. Whether they need help in Compensation work or just in general, they will appreciate your interest. You probably learn a lot, too, as long as you make a point of it. Even if they are asking you to populate a database, be curious. What are on the forms or tables you're using for input and why. How will the data be used? Why is it a priority? Observe the management style, too. What can you learn there? Would you like to work for this person in the future?
If no senior practitioner asks for help, offer it anyway. And I don't mean in an email. Ask for a minute to talk over their workload and identify areas where you think you can contribute. Listen carefully to the response and look for ways to counter their concerns (that you don't know what you're doing). You may not be ready to run a project but you can support project managers, taking maintenance tasks off their hands. Favors are often remembered and returned, and your own developing skills are bound to be recognized over time.
If you're thinking about getting a certification, start the courses. You'll always have a good reason not to, but odds are you'll do a better job because of what you've learned. And since most of the WorldatWork courses can now be taken online, sign up for tuition reimbursement, grab yourself a tablet and get going. Ignoring that tuition benefit at your job is like ignoring the 401k match.
You'll notice that most Compensation practitioners who are working for the big firms do not have certifications. That's because of the depth of training they receive on the job. Even a new consulting Associate can work with as many as a dozen companies in just as many industries in the space of a year. Each set of client needs is different, and all the consultants' work is reviewed -- often more than once. After a few years of that, you've fixed a lot of bad habits, helped clients address most compensation basics and worked through a variety of strategic challenges. A certification will not give non-consulting practitioners the same range of experience, but you will have achieved a thorough familiarity with the industry standards.
If you don't know what's it's like to work at your major competitor, find out. Interview new hires that come from those companies. Don't limit the discussion to their compensation. Find out what they thought about career programs, performance management, manager skills, their HR department. And take some field trips. Sure, your competitors won't let you in the door, but local companies outside of your industry are bound to be open to a get together to share what's going on. Become the resource in your department who knows what's going on on the outside. And when it comes to competitor insights, make sure to keep your data fresh.
Wondering how to get your boss' attention in 2016? You can't go wrong with a copy of the popular ebook, Everything You Do (in Compensation) Is Communication @ www.everythingiscommunication.com. Margaret O'Hanlon, CCP collaborated with Ann Bares and Dan Walter to create this DIY guide to compensation leadership. Margaret is founder and Principal of re:Think Consulting. She brings deep expertise in compensation, communications and leadership to the CEO Pay Ratio discussions at the Café. Before founding re:Think Consulting, Margaret was a Principal at Towers Watson.