Your Compensation Powers

Early in my career my bosses’ boss was showing me the ropes and explained that when it came to job evaluation, we in Compensation had “the strong power of recommendation.” The idea that the best I could do was to recommend something was a little hard to swallow.  Now I understand what hierarchy means and who gets to make decisions, especially those that commit funds in one way or another when it comes to compensation and rewards.  But who is really the most qualified to do that?  Who has primary ownership of the company’s strategies for competitive positioning, internal equity,…

The Simplicity of 3%

“When people complain of your complexity, they fail to remember that they made fun of your simplicity.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson Compensation is hard enough to understand without debating fractions, isn’t it? As if making something that is already so misunderstood, debated and difficult more complex would be a good thing! But a little complexity may just be needed as a check and validation that you are paying as you are intending to. Every year various surveys are taken that ask companies what their intentions are for the coming year for pay adjustments of all types – pay ranges, merit,…

I Could Tell You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

I enjoy teaching a couple of compensation certification classes for WorldatWork, the association for total rewards professionals. I get a lot of questions about a lot of topics, but one that frequently surfaces – whether in a module or not – is “this is great, but would you tell your employees that?” And this isn’t some super-secret recipe for the incentive plan funding that makes you an insider, this is some of the compensation basics like pay grade, pay range, that sort of thing. So just to get it out of the way let me say that I am a…

Compensation Ticket to Ride!

Some friends recently introduced us to the board game Ticket to Ride.  For those of you who don’t know it or haven’t played, the goal of the game is to connect cities on a map (US, Europe, Asia and other versions) with train cars, based on the ticket you draw.  For example, Portland to Nashville is one of the tickets, and you can connect via Los Angeles, Denver, St. Louis, Atlanta, or any number of other routes.  You earn points by completing your tickets among other ways.  It’s a fun family game. I am very much a novice still.  Malcolm…

What Just Happened Here?

I’ve worked for a lot of great companies over my career, but not always for people that had the greatest insight into rewards and compensation. Sometimes that’s the HR leader, but more frequently it’s the CEO, or as I affectionately call him, the Chief Compensation Officer (CCO).  That could take the form of responses such as: “We need to make decisions that will enable us to save on expenses.” “I don’t hear a whole lot of negative feedback, it must be working.” “Turnover isn’t a problem so compensation must be OK.” “The Executive Committee needs to decide on our funding priorities.”…

Changing Your Perspective From the Stern to the Bow

In 30 or so years of looking at salary surveys, I don’t think I ever heard a description of this critical tool of the compensation professional that made me think as hard and as critically about what I do as, “Salary surveys are like the wake of a boat; they only tell you where you’ve been, not where you’re going.” Think about that for a minute.  Why is that the case? Why can’t we make that more strategic turn towards a future view of where to go?  Here are a few reasons I’d offer up: We’re comfortable just doing what we’ve…