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Love this! It's spot on! :)

Ha! The biggest problems I remember:
1) Managers who always wanted to use headhunters recommendations on salaries
2) Founders who got low salary but got millions of options. They couldn't wrap their heads around what "normal" people were paid.

Hi Chuck,
I hope there is are additional models to follow. In my opinion the tone of this post is saying if the business does not see you as an advisory you are not doing your job. Just as other professions evolve HR and Total Rewards also needs to be encouraged to evolve. We need compensation professionals to step out of the pocket protector, external data will give us the answer, compensation against the world mold. We need to encourage more compensation professionals to really understand the business they are supporting and become a stronger business partner within HR and the business. We need to understand what is different about the business we are working in. External data will tell you what other companies are doing but following what others do does not create a competitive advantage. We need to get out of our silo and become partners with the rest of HR and the business to create the right workforce strategy.

You can educate and recommend the appropriate solutions without being an advisory if you understand the business you are supporting and build the right relationships. In my opinion if others are responding negatively to your recommendations it is because they don’t believe you understand the business issues and are not relating your recommendations to the specific business needs. We need to step beyond the data dump and run approach as I call it. Providing solutions does not stop at providing data and analysis. Data is just the starting point. We need to stop blaming everyone else if our recommendations are not accepted and approved.


The challenge of writing a blog piece that's limited to 600 - 700 words is that you cannot cover every angle, every viewpoint and every reader's experiences. You have to laser focus the particular point you want to make, knowing that you haven't covered the world of possibilities.

That's what starts our caffeinated conversations

My point here is to encourage management and direction of compensation, not simple administration. Big difference, though admittedly some companies prefer that their Head of Comp is an administrator. Been there, seen it.

Personally I agree with most of your points, though our common perspective may not thrive in certain organizations.

And we're not blaming anyone for not accepting our recommendations. We're pointing out a series of challenges that comp managers and directors should be prepared to address. Because the administrators won't.

We were just talking today at the office about how we have to do everybody's "dirty" work for them. Nobody in HR likes to give the bad news!

Thanks so much Chuck for your accurate words!! your articles are always so interesting for me!!

Well Chuck, HR obviously often suffers from much of the same problem that most non-sales departments suffer and most prospective employees too for that matter. It is that you just don't know how to sell yourselves and often you disdain the sales process and "salesmen" in general. Also, HR often reports to the VP of Finance or CFO and gets squeezed for every nickel. Because of that HR is often obsessed by/focused on budgetary constraints for salary since that is what their leadership (the CFO) wants them to be focused on. That is no fun and certainly not a position that encourages "knowing the business". How often does anyone consider that the CFO or VP of Finance "knows the business"? Not often IMHO, since they know the books, but that really isn't the same as "knowing the business" is it?

Compensation is a means to an end and definitely not a zero sum game as Finance and Accounting might want you to believe. Today, many companies are in the knowledge management business with knowledge workers, yet they seem to see their workers through the CFO and HR lens as costs not assets. Fire the one who makes the most and everything will be OK (never mind if that is the guy who knows your product or customers best) If you can take a "salesy" (also known as a leadership approach) approach to selling the value of HR and your counsel, you will need to understand the main pains of your "customers". Those "customers" are the staff of the company, but also the leadership. What behaviors do they want to encourage since "compensation" is the main lever to encourage behavior. What kind of morale, atmosphere and attitudes do they want in their workers? Who are the workers that they want the rest to emulate and who do they want to retain? HR and compensation are the most powerful tools to help attain those goals other than the leaders in the company and HR can either enhance the leadership or work against it. What do they really want to have happen?

I was happiest the nine years I worked for a software company that gave me lots of stock options, a 10% raise almost every year and invested heavily in things that made it fun to work the long hours we worked from time to time and to put out the high energy and care for our work that was demanded. They encouraged people to move to new roles and I held five different jobs during that nine years that allowed me to be in place where I could make a difference to the success of the company. This is what HR can facilitate in the best of circumstances, but if HR is relegated to working under Finance and counting pennies while chopping nickels, then it definitely won't achieve its promise.

I suggest a "salesy" approach of finding out what leadership/management wants and what their biggest itches are and then showing them how HR can help with wise counsel and effective strategies.

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