... Never made a skilled sailor
I saw this phrase the other day and it really caught my attention. Folks on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media are always posting cute, profound or overused phrases that describe personal motivation, self-discipline or even the meaning of life, and I usually ignore them. I can't figure out the point of highlighting the obvious.
But this one gave me pause.
Think about it. If you want to progress in your career, then you have to show those who are higher up than you that you have what it takes. That you're capable of rising to the occasion, making the tough decisions and by your knowledge, skill and experience getting the job done. And how do you show that? Fix something, improve a process, change behaviors, save money, make the act of change work for you and your organization. Have an impact.
Conversely, those who only administer reward programs (sometimes known as treading water) don't do much of that change stuff and are often viewed as having reached a "career plateau," or as others might view it - they've reached a dead end. Administrators are not the cream of the profession, and rarely rise to the top.
Is it time to look in the mirror?
Where are we going?
Of course, you have to be in the right environment in order to have the opportunity to shine, to enact those wonderful results. And while we would all like to be employed by smooth running operations, the heroes of our success story are those who created all that smoothness and efficiency. Not those who came after, who benefit from it today by pushing the "continue" button..
In a practical sense though, how many really smooth running businesses are out there? It's a fair statement to make that just about every organization has some program, policy or procedure that isn't working right. They all have some aspect of their reward programs that might not be broken, but could be seriously bent or considered charitably as less than effective.
Not sure of your environment? Try this.
- Ask questions: Become the "Curious George" of your organization and learn all there is to know about your current reward programs. You'll need to understand the "why" as well as the "what" and "how."
- Talk to management: Gain from their perspective as to expectations, comfort level with the status quo and their willingness to accept change.
- Set up metric milestones: Set up a series of base line statistics that describe current elements of your reward programs. From there you can measure progress toward specific goals. And you'll also have a graphic story to show management. Numbers can trump words.
Change for the sake of change
On the other hand, have a care that you don't try to force an issue. I've seen compensation practitioners push hard to inject new policies, procedures and even cultural initiatives where they simply would not work. Something they should have known from the start. We've likely all experienced some form of the "round hole, square peg" scenario - where certain ideas are doomed to fail due to management bias, a deeply entrenched culture, employee demographics or a host of other reasons unique to that organization.
But some practitioners will still push an aggressive agenda, more for their own betterment (resume enhancement, improving their personal experience, career checkmarks, etc.) than for the improvement of their organization.
I've seen it done.
So have a care; using your organization as a personal experiment or Petri dish to try out the latest trends can be a problem for you. And for your organization.
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, "Sailing," by Bruce Tuten