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I've always considered all those three reasons to be simple examples of one single common cause: top management doesn't understand the pay program and doesn't want to look stupid by admitting it. When senior executive management fully comprehend the pay system, they are much less likely to stonewall and far more likely to openly cite it and take pride in it.

HR/Comp folks may mistakenly think their bosses don't have confidence in the pay system, but that's not it. The big bosses don't have confidence in their personal ability to talk their way through the reality without stumbling.

After all, the first rule of top management is Thou Shalt Not Expose Thy Boss to Ridicule. Training in humility, human behavior and compensation systems are necessary, in order of priority.

Jim:

I'd be hard pressed to disagree with your conclusion. And in these cases, of course, members of top management often don't understand the pay program because they don't believe it represents a high enough priority to justify the investment of time and energy it takes TO understand it. Sad.

While pointing WorldAtWork online Community members discussing this topic to your timely blog, I posted a response there particularly relevant here: "There's no requirement to give detail, but the act of volunteering such detail is indicative of management confidence in the correctness of its discretionary decision while secrecy implies guilty conspiracy to defraud."

Jim:

So right on.

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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