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Chuck, a very thoughtful post...

I would add that many traditional Compensation analysts might not even be aware of the intricacies of market pricing incentives. Sales Comp is a different Animal, and there for it requires a specialized zookeeper.

Agreed - always be aware and capture actual vs. target. Don't blend it.

Agreed - always be aware (at least generally) of corporate performance within the sector in which you are working. If sales / earnings are down in a sector, chance are good that performance relative to target will be off too...

Also - I like to remind people of the differences in $ versus %. Obviously if you express you incentive as a % (like 20% of base pay), the dollar amount you are targeting will vary widely by individual within your company even if everyone performs at target. Now, compound that by 100 when 100 firms dump their data into a survey.

Also - I like surveys that show average "mix" on target total cash. That tends to give you a good picture of the amount of cash it takes to be competitive in the market, and the typical ratio of fixed to variable that it takes to reward that type of a job.

Remember - the bottom line to all benchmarking is that it should be INFORMING, not CONFORMING. Let it inform you, but don't let it over run the uniqueness of your business situation.

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