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That's a tough one Ann ---- transparency in compensation. How can HR not compartmentalize it --- or at least some of it? I'd personally like to see more articles on this issue.

Note to all readers - I inadvertently deleted a paragraph of this post when I published it, and have now added it back in. Nothing really substantive, but just a third example meant to help illustrate the point.


Thanks for the comment. It is a tough one - as I noted above, there are certainly things about pay that need legitimately to be kept private. But there are also things that would benefit from transparency, but that leaders shy away from explaining fully for reasons that (for me, at least) do not ultimately hold up to scrutiny. So, some compartmentalization is very probably appropriate, yes. I think, though, that we need to think through, from a high level, our choices of what to reveal and what to keep secret. Otherwise, the inexplicable secrecy in some areas will destroy any benefit we hope to gain by being transparent in others. At least that's my take.

Would love to hear more about what others think about this issue as well!

The workshop presentation put on by Chris Dobyns of the National Security Agency a few years ago at the Total Rewards Global Conference entitled "Lifting the Cone of Silence" was an excellent example of this mixed method. They openly displayed their benchmarking procedures and methods used for market matches, without every revealing exactly how each job was finally classified in too much detail. The national intelligence services are not bound by the traditional civil service system rules and the general pay schedule bureaucratic regimentation; they can do their own thing and do, as I understand it. The powerpoint cells from that presentation should still be available to attending members.

Chris can explain it much better of course (as he did), but the bottom line is that when you are willing to openly expose your methods and invite examination, folks know you are prepared to prove your claims and back off from complaints about secrecy. Employees understand that management is paid to make discretionary decisions and will not reveal everything, especially not personally-identifiable information.

Also: check the Dilbert cartoon for today, http://www.dilbert.com/2012-08-26/.

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