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Chuck – I completely agree…. Dabblers and wannbes can really hurt the compensation programs of a small company (sometimes permanently on a micro scale, and at least temporarily on a macro scale). Small firms may not have the many of the challenges of their larger brothers and sisters, but their programs are no less vital to their human capital management. In my work, both on the corporate and consulting side I have found that the “right” people can be groomed into Comp roles though… it takes full-time dedication, some formal training, and a lot of on the job training.

Survey shows numbers that can sometimes be true or can be manipulated. It is hard to see the real results behind those numbers which makes determination be the guidance.

You've opened a real can or worms with this one but you are right to raise the issue. Companies have to realise that compensation is a very specialist area and unfortunately many companies move HR staff through the function far too quickly. Too quick sometimes to see the consequesnses of their decisions / recommendations.
No matter what the expertise, the first step in any analysis is to RTFM (I won't expand here). People are prone to dip in without knowing what they are really looking at whether it is expat comp or nationals.
Having been in the business for about 30 years I can confirm that the queries we get don't change from generation to generation. There is no real improvement in perception or professionalism.
Sorry if you discern a sense of frustration.

Yes, it can be a frustrating process, John; getting management to realize that comp analysis goes well beyond flipping pages in a survey to reach the "aha" moment.

"Oh, we can do that," is a common response by HR generalists and small company managers, as if the proper functioning of a compensation program is merely an administrative task that most anyone can handle.

"Penny wise and pound foolish," as my father would say.

This happens in large companies as well. Here the tendency is to want to "fit" the job in question to a certain price range by overlooking or ignoring the critical factors you mention. When a competent analyst presents the information, convincing hiring managers and senior leadership the the underwater basket weaver is not worth $60K annually becomes an important job skill.

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