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Great advice! Although I wonder if it's any easier to solve the other issues (like poor management and lack of growth opportunities) than it is to come up with some extra cash...;-)


Thanks for the comment!

It's not easy to do either - I'll grant you that. I'd just like to spur some of us out of the rut of taking every request for money at "cash value" (pun intended) and simply saying no, rather than taking the extra steps necessary to better understand and begin to address the underlying problem.

I think we too often allow compensation to serve as the lightening rod for general employment issues. It's our job to bring clarity and understanding to the table, so that progress can be made and real issues can be tackled head on.

The backstory here is that, until the compensation issue has been taken off the table, you frequently never get to the real underlying problem. It's too darn easy to for managers to attempt to bribe their way out of a corner by throwing more money at a troubled individual. That is why a productive stint in compensation is so essential for a well-rounded human resources professional, so they can effectively challenge the otherwise persuasive assumption that more money is the universal solution. Without knowledge of compensation tradecraft, you are handicapped, like carrying a knife to a gunfight.

All too often, the underlying dysfunction cannot be solved at all by any means under your control; but you mislead people if you mistake the cause and mis-apply solutions. A bandaid may comfort onlookers, but it won't help the heart attack victim much.

Cash may be the answer. However, one should never prescribe without first conducting a careful diagnosis.

Well said, Jim. I particularly value your point about "a productive stint in compensation". HR people assume they must endure this in order to understand the numbers and the financial piece. While understanding the numbers is important, in truth the real value of time spent in compensation should be the understanding, gained first-hand, that money is NOT the universal solution.

Thanks, always, for the comment.

In my experience we were known as the Compensation Police, but the meaning is the same. The key, I think, is instead of saying no, to find a way to say yes (similar to don't tell me why I can't - tell me how I can). Realize, also, that the yes might be to a different question.

We must help managers understand the situation completely and dig a bit deeper to root causes. A simple example: Years ago, I received a call from the General Manager of my company in Chile. A high performing employee was unhappy, and he wanted to make a compensation adjustment of over 25%. The employee, by the way, had not asked for money, and was well-paid.

We discussed the situation, and I suggested he nominate this employee for a short-term rotational assignment in the US. Needless to say, the pay discussion ceased and a very enthusiastic employee did a great job in that rotational assignment. The GM learned something too.

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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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