Editor's Note: This week's Thought Leader is Brad Hill, Principal at Tandehill Human Capital, where he designs compensation programs in a variety of areas aimed at enhancing organizational and individual effectiveness. Before founding Tandehill, Brad held consulting roles at Hay Group, Ernst & Young, Watson Wyatt and Towers Perrin. He has taught coursework for WorldatWork and is a frequent contributor to their Workspan magazine as well as a variety of other HR publications. Brad’s work has been featured in Fast Company Magazine, HR Magazine, Incentive Magazine and the London Times. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Scanlon Leadership Network, a nonprofit association whose members pioneered gainsharing, open-book management, lean systems and servant leadership.
Compensation Force: What led you to choose (or land in) a career featuring the field of rewards?
Brad Hill: During my first year of business school, I decided that I would like to be a performance management consultant (classmates said “what?”). This pursuit was confirmed when I spent my summer internship developing a performance management program for a successful bank in Richmond. In my subsequent job search I learned that there were really no performance management consulting firms, and that this work was performed by compensation consultants (thank you Jerry Colletti). My first job was with Towers Perrin and it was literally years until I did any performance management consulting, but in the meantime I fell in love with the entire field of rewards.
Compensation Force: What person and their ideas/teaching/writing has had a significant influence on your thinking and your work?
Brad Hill: I have been influenced and educated by so many that it would be difficult to defend that I have any innate talent at all. In my “formative” years at Towers Perrin I was lavished with training by some of the most brilliant consultants I have ever encountered. My first boss, John Ellerman (still at Towers), would spend a half-day every other week taking me through a technical compensation topic (e.g., restricted stock, rabbi trusts, economic value added). Mike Davis (now at General Mills), Steve O’Byrne (now at Shareholder Value Advisors) and Jill Kanin-Lovers (now actively serving on several Boards) supplemented this with twice yearly, multi-day training sessions in New York, which were filled with ideas and insight. A client, Kristina Pfeil, introduced me to the work of Dr. Deming, who probably had the single biggest impact on my thinking about employees; creating respect for everyone’s contribution and capturing the untapped energy of hourly employees. While at Watson Wyatt, Michael Graham (now at Grahall Partners) showed me how a creative mind can challenge the traditional thinking in the field, and at Ernst & Young it was Jim Hatch (now at TalentScope) who got me to understand the importance of involving employees in the compensation plan design process.
Compensation Force: Is there a book you’d recommend to others in the reward field that has impacted your thinking and your work?
Brad Hill: I think it is very important for reward consultants to put compensation into the broader context of all of the reasons that people go to work for an organization. It’s too easy to be drawn into the promise of the Compensation Philosophy- that it is primarily pay that attracts, retains and motivates employees. Punished by Rewards (Alfie Kohn) does a great job of demonstrating the downside of a culture driven by external rewards, and the flipside of the pay-for-performance mantra, which is rarely challenged in our field. To be very good in this field I think you need to have a deep appreciation of the advantages and disadvantages of external rewards.
Compensation Force: Looking to the future, what trend or development do you think will significantly impact the reward profession and those of us working in it?
Brad Hill: I see three changes that will impact the future of our profession: 1) I believe the recent recession will permanently erase the entitlement around significant base pay increases, and that incentive pay will become the primary mechanism for recognizing and rewarding annual performance; 2) I think that shareholders have suffered enough stock option abuse and that organizations will explore more meaningful long-term metrics to truly motivate executive performance; 3) I believe the preponderance of inferior market pay data and employee access to pay data will lead to a resurgence in the use of job evaluation as the primary means to determine a job’s worth.
Compensation Force: What are you currently working on?
Brad Hill: There is often talk of the consulting career hourglass- where one starts with a broad base of work, specializes mid-career (my specialty was incentive pay and gainsharing), and then ends his/her career broadly. Perhaps regrettably, I believe I am at the career stage where the hourglass is beginning to broaden for me. At present, I am working with clients in six areas: performance management, with a focus on competencies to reinforce the desired work culture; sales incentives; long-term executive incentives (not stock-based); developing employment value propositions and subsequent pay strategies; job evaluation and base pay program design; and communicating business performance metrics and how employees can impact them at every level of the organization. Gainsharing, my area of deepest expertise, is not demanding much of my time… a situation which continues to confound me. (Editorial note: It confounds me, too. With all the discussion of Capitalism 2.0 and creating shared value, and given the enormous power that gainsharing has to do just that, you'd expect the topic of gainsharing to be a hot one today.)
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Our special thanks to Brad for participating in the Compensation Force Thought Leader series and taking the time to share some of his history, thoughts and ideas with us today!
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