« New Overtime Rules Proposed | Main | That's The Way We Do Things Around Here »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Great post Margaret! In everything we do in Compensation we have to start where the other person is and then take them gradually to where we want/need them to be. Otherwise we're just beating our head against the wall.
But . . . easier said than done.

Suppose you wanted to design an incentive scheme with the intent of rewarding the five behaviors/attributes you outline.

How in the world would you operationalize and measure them? (I'm not trolling, I'm quite serious)

Seems like you are asking for managers to supervise, in which case you should be calling them "supervisors." Managers often head up functions without any meaningful direct reports to engage, inspire, evaluate, etc. Supervisors (even VPs and CEOs) do those things.

And yes, Tony, I have seen practical systems effectively promoting those behavioral outcomes. No two were identical, however, and all required a lot of work. Most "managers" are too busy being big shots to be willing to "do that HR stuff" which really ought to be the most vital part of their supervisory duties. People tend to do what they think brings them the greatest reward.

In the continuing struggle to get people (managers, in this example)to do what they are supposed to do, we develop models that attempt to incent behaviors based upon what we think has worked in the past, sometimes with elaborate strategies over an extended period of time. In my experience, these efforts have rarely shown success, mainly because business volatility changed the landscape, so what was needed then is different from what's needed now.

We seem to be constantly re-arranging the deck chairs hoping for a different result, when what we need to do is change the course of the ship. I've been a proponent of radical change in the compensation world, because I believe the way business will organize in the future will be fundamentally different from it's historical structure, requiring a vastly different compensation infrastructure to support it.

John, I agree that we do need radical change. Something about the compensation philosophy/infrastructure seems to have been eroded between the restrictions on salaries for so many years and the years-long business climate where serendipity influences business results as much as hard work.

That said, having done this for so long, one thing I've come to realize is that to some extent, we will keep rearranging the deck chairs because those are the chairs what we have (given human nature etc. etc.). That's why I wrote the blog. The Gallup research helps us realize how many deck chairs we really have, now let's get them arranged.

I'm not sure that practitioners understand fine tuning as much as they could. I think a true pay for performance mindset acknowledges that we should always be rearranging stuff as a trickle down from the volatility of our market/customers.

But, I really do feel the same way you do. I guess I'd just describe it as wanting a few radically new, truly cutting edge, especially ergonomic deck chairs -- with measurable impact!

Tony, I don't think those traits should be used for performance evaluation per se, because we need to realize what the research is telling us, as talent managers, that few people exist that can fulfill our lofty vision of manager. (After all, it's a real business mistake to ignore that our systems are not built to work.)

And then we need to acknowledge that we don't run our company's with that understanding. We don't screen for those traits when we select managers. For example, when's the last time we denied a manager promotion because the person didn't make decisions based on productivity rather than politics?

So if we want to use the insight provided by the research, a place to start is acknowledging we want managers who strive for those traits rather than demanding that everyone fit an unrealistic expectation. We screen for people who demonstrate a certain ability in the traits and we help those people develop.

If we want to put reward and recognition behind them, then we build a competency-based incentive program that measures how the traits are applied in your company's work. There are behavioral assessments that can be developed to help people understand how good they are at each of them (baseline) and how a person should apply them in their work. I've worked on these projects and know they are possible -- in company's that acknowledge they have real culture change to accomplish.

Margaret - I appreciate your response to my comment. One cannot ignore the structural reality as it exists today, and must maximize the tools we have in an attempt to achieve the desired outcomes. As I see it, the complexity we face is akin to replacing airplane props with jet engines without losing speed or altitude. No mean feat that!

Frankly, I think the change model applies here: we need to be willing to accept the inevitable dip that comes with radical disruptions in the status-quot. One of our professions' most fundamentally debilitating traits is aversion to risk; starkly different from what facilitates business evolution. Given the speed with which that evolution is occurring, maybe it's time to go all-in.

I'm with you, John. There is a stunning aversion to risk and I believe, I think like you, that the it can't be overlooked much longer or someone else besides HR will expose what is lacking. I feel the urgency, too.

So, this is a great place for a shameless plug, I'm afraid. This topic is at the heart of the book that Ann, Dan and I will be publishing in the next two months. We'll look forward to your readership!

(From Margaret . . . One of the writers of "Everything We Do in Compensation is Communications: Why Not Do Everything Better!" Soon to be conveniently available on your computer . . .)

The comments to this entry are closed.