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To me, the main thing is to be able to work with the business leaders on the one hand and to have a broad understanding of company business, employee implications, HR generally, and - of course - of compensation and benefits, all in their mutual interconnection. Narrow focus on numbers is not enough.

To me deep analysis is only a platform to provide business with the required information to make an informed decision. So the question is not between analysis or in charge of taking decision, or between bad or good. It is how more advanced analysis can help business in taking an informed decision. Otherwise any decision with proper data and analysis is only an opinion and not a decision.

This must be a common affliction with compensation specialists, and the inability to master mathematics (although the guys I work with would offer a quick rebuke that we're not really talking about "mathematics", but really higher-order arithmetic).

That sort of feedback at work inevitably always makes me feel even less-smart.

Over the years, I have ascertained that I've not been successful due to my proficiency in math . . . oops, I mean higher-order arithmetic - but mostly due to my ability to "see" and understand the relationships between numbers, and then know what (if anything) to do about it. There, that makes me sound at least a little bit smarter.

I guess I've never contemplated the color of my hat (or even if I was wearing one, for that matter). I suppose what I've reminded myself of periodically, is that I work for management and the company - and that all our compensation interventions are a means to an ends. And while I've tried (more so in recent years . . .) to consider both employee/behavioral and the financial implications of pay interventions - I've always tried to frame my recommendations to be selfless, without any contemplation of how they might impact me, personally.

That's probably been the toughest personna to sustain.

Makes me laugh now, after finding every form of academic math (except the Math of Logic) so painfully difficult that I took every math course possible, barely wallowing through. Initially pursued the HR "soft skills" path of employment advertising, recruiting, interviewing, investigating, writing, persuading, ER, etc. Later found myself also mastering employee testing, LR, safety, benefits, T&D, OD, then (gasp) salary admin and advanced job evaluation, surveying, etc., to the point of becoming a Board Certified Forensic Examiner for Federal Court Expert Witness reports/testimonies on ... wait for it ... statistical analyses of executive compensation.

When the reality behind the numbers became apparent, the figures all made sense. My prior well-developed communications skills permitted clear articulations of "compensation" issues that were not simply numeric but based on human behaviors reflected in or displayed by mathematical models. Besides, "all rewards don't jingle."

Does no good to master arithmetic or math if you can't explain their meaning in everyday terms. Basic arithmetic will suffice. Advanced knowledge of human behavioral dynamics and the ability to 'splain it all is far more VITAL than mere number-counting ability.

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