During the course of my career I've come across a number of compensation practitioners who seem to think that, at least for them, compensation management is similar to playing a game of horseshoes. That just coming close to target would get you points. That while actually scoring a three-point "ringer" would be nice, just getting a one-point score for getting close is good enough. They can "get by" on that.
My father used to call this, "good enough for government work."
Do you know someone who thinks that way? Perhaps at some level such a half-a-loaf attitude defines management thinking where you work.
I hope not. Because it doesn't help the practitioner or the organization.
Broadening your horizon
Consider this basic tenet of good compensation management or analysis: When considering compensation issues and challenges within your organization it's vitally important that you take yourself beyond simply answering the question being asked. Are we competitive? Does our incentive plan work for the company as well as the employee? Do we really pay for performance? Each of these queries could be dismissed with a one word or simplistic response, but does that really help anyone? Would that advance the knowledge / problem solution that's at the core of the question?
Practitioners should be expected to have developed an awareness of the bigger picture that lurks behind the original question, and to understand how their responding analysis impacts the business. Put yourself in a position to anticipate the follow-up questions; what does this mean? what do we do now? could there be a ripple effect somewhere?
Your value to the organization, your worth as an employee and as a job holder has a high correlation to your ability to expand your analysis. Take the blinders off and broaden your perspective. Consider telling senior management through your response, "I know what concerns you, I understand the implications of this issue for the business, and I've considered a wider view of the situation / problem in developing my response."
Does that sound like you? It should.
Taking the extra step
In other instances, when researching for an "x" issue you notice a connected "y" factor that may be related, or could have a cause-and-effect impact - but do you say anything? Do you look further into "y" to explore possibilities and practicalities?
If not, why not? Because you weren't asked?
If you had asked someone else to research the original question for you, what in turn would you expect them to do? How thoughtful a response would you consider appropriate? So don't you think that your management would have the same expectations? Call this, "opportunity lost."
And what would happen if you didn't look at that "y" issue - but instead kept your focus strictly on what was narrowly defined when they asked for "x" - and management later uncovered ramifications or unintended consequences, or worse? Would you still have met their expectations, or perhaps instead you would find yourself criticized or even checked-off as a half-achiever? It happens.
Are your feet up on the desk?
So I'm asking you, are you going through the motions of your job, treading water and watching the clock tick by, or are you pro-actively developing a career? Perhaps you're still waiting to make up your mind. In many quarters non action is considered a response.
And lest we forget, sometimes the boss doesn't ask the right questions. Wouldn't it be a plus for you if you could help clarify the issues or be a part of the process that found the answers - the solutions? Perhaps employ even a bit of tactical strategy as well? It's all good for you, or can be.
Your job, or at least a part of it, is to make your boss look good. And that means helping them succeed in meeting their objectives. You can't do that with your blinders on.
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, "Horseshoe," by GinaCiardi