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Of course you could dump the 'salary structure' and go to paying people and not 'jobs'. Never saw a 'salary structure' do much work but people do all the time. My question is how you encourage talent to grow, learn, and add value over time when you are 'stuck' with a 'salary structure' based on job descriptions copied from some salary survey or other? Truth is you can't can you, Jim?

When are we going to see competitive data provided on the skills people need to add value to the organization? Perhaps we are becoming 'obsolete' along with the sorts of pay surveys we still have. What are your thoughts my friend?

Yes, Jay, you are correct that structures are typically based on "jobs" versus "talent" and it will require major changes in perspectives to respond to that. There has been very little interest in competitive data on skills that add value, probably because defining those KSAs in ways that can be reliably surveyed and reported is so difficult outside the context of job titles that are essentially skill sets modified by level of responsibility. Time for a short guest article explaining the better option, eh? Go for it, Jay! We would appreciate Pat's contributions, too, for the usual enrichment she brings to topics.

See my 1/24/13 http://www.compensationcafe.com/2013/01/solving-the-pay-progression-dilemma.html for one of my suggested solutions.

Hello Jim:

Pat and I spoke at the Cinn. C&B association last week in a repeat of one of the CEO presentations. They are an active and lively group. We spoke a bit about transitioning from 'job' to 'skill' durveys.

I will invite Pat to provide her opine but she does not need me to 'nudge' her to do anything.

I think Dr. Dave of ERI fame has 'danced around' the issue of competencies for as long as I have known him. I would really appreciate it if you could get him to 'hold forth' here on that issue. He always has a knowledge-based perspective on things.

I am sure you know about David Foote's survey that focuses on technology work from a skill and competency perspective. His work has always been attractive to me but he focuses only on the technology work arena. Perhaps David could be encouraged to add something to this excellent blog.

I am interested now in dialoging with those who are involved in gathering and applying data focused on the value of skill and competencies rather than 'jobs'. I strongly believe that is the future of information exchange.

Perhaps Dr. Dave and Mr. Foote could be invited to add some value here?

If I may offer my comment to this "august" group ---- I think I saw the light that Jay preaches when I researched the new hybrid jobs. Unlike the old ones --- these combine all sorts of skills from all sorts of job families (pardon me Jay). We will see more and more of them. I think that will finally push survey vendors over the edge. Surveys won't be relevant when only 10% of their survey positions exist. Until then --- no need for them to change.

Nice to assemble an "august" group on April Fool's Day. Occupational families are simply large categories containing different combinations of "jobs" related by either their skill set or their organizational application: i.e., CEO, Accountant, Analyst. They are just labels for commonly accepted benchmark versions of what the incumbent PEOPLE are expected to do. The KSAs might even be the same. Salary structures are simply attempts to create ways to treat them all in a fairly uniform way. But is that a good idea?

OK, someone else's turn, now!

I love you, Jacque. We can start a "Jacque and Jay skills blog".

I believe the providers of survey information are the 'cause' of 'me too' total reward planning. They are the source of 'best practice' and never study further into the data they provide to suggest that the most popular way may just not be the 'best' for every situation, workforce, and organization.

We have become a profession of copying the practices of other organizations and nearly never find out the consequences of following 'prevailing practice'. My argument is that organizations are not suffering from a lack of 'jobs'--they are suffering from a lack of people who can help the organization succeed. And so we need to focus closer on the workforce than ever before.

The survey vendors are not going to change because we are all buying whatever they have to sell. I know because for years I worked for large consulting firms and was part of the 'make bucks now' reasoning. That was wrong! It is hard work to introduce something new and their are risks involved.

Sorry, I know most people are not interested in change because it is so difficult. But we have such a great opportunity to make a difference and I fear many of us are 'blowing it' big time.

I think I didn't communicate clearly. I meant to say that survey providers see no need to change as long as they keep selling their surveys as is. Also no need to preach to the choir re "best practices." Look at my recent blog on that. Look for a pic of a fat man busting his shirt buttons.
Who is this David Foote and how do I get a look at his tech survey? Having worked in high tech all life I think I could probably understand it.

Jacque: David Foote of Foote Partners LLC has published pay survey data according to IT certifications and other human factors for almost two decades. Does good work. About 50 of his surveys are in the WaW Resource Center's Survey library and are easily found elsewhere. Check his LI profile, too, if you wish; I invited him to join in here.

The pay survey biz is a very small and increasingly shrinking world where there are so few surviving providers of demonstrably valid data (i.e., capable of meeting Daubert federal court standards) that there has been little incentive for nontraditional approaches. Strongly agree that changes are needed, but the demand economics don't seem to justify the supply costs.

With a business plan and a flush backer, I'd try for it.

But even a fat salary is usually not enough to combat steep competition, finicky ... To get the results you want, shake up your commission structure..

From Ann:

David Foote did take time, in response to Jim's invitation, to share a comment here. Unfortunately, Typepad appears to have diverted his attempt. He shared it again with Jim and I via email, so I am publishing it here on his behalf.

(From David) I’m seeing (and helping) multiple employers in massive restructuring of their comp practices because of the mess disruptive technology, global economic competition, and just the sheer pace of change has made of their current structures which are no longer able to properly define, document, and pay a very large number of jobs. A large number of these jobs are hybrid IT-business professionals, aka the modern corporate workforce. As for so-called ‘IT professionals’, 2/3s of them do not work in IT orgs anymore but are strewn all of the enterprise in every corp dept, functional area, product group, SBU and special projects areas. They are there just as much for their technology savvy as they are for their business, industry, and domain experience and you cannot ID them purely by job title because the there is nothing about their title that gives away the fact the they are technology experts in their areas as well as marketing, operations, sales, logistics, finance, and accounting people. So what these companies are now doing is applying traditional architecture principles to strategic people management in the same way they have architected their businesses and their technical infrastructures for many years. They just never applied the same principles to their human capital. We coined the term People Architecture and it seemed to be sticking. Employers get what that means. If you don’t know what PArch is (yet), it’s really on the rise: http://bit.ly/1iUu360. It is de rigueur for modern comp practices and it is all about rejiggling salaries, incentives, performance, total rewards, career paths and training/development.


David: Great contribution! Thanks to both you and Ann for sharing your specialized experience with this critical issue. Your observations shed much light on the many causes for problems encountered when updating compensation systems. Things change, and new perspectives become vital to see (much less adapt to) the new realities.

Does this help others better understand what has been happening?

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