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Great article. The compensation "brand" is really the foundation for communication by managers. It is this brand (sometimes referred to as the company's "pay philosophy") that managers fall back on when setting expectations with employees.

Hi Ann. There is a lot to be learned from Marc Shillum's article, because his points are all valid. They are not that wildly different that people like me, who focus on compensation communications, would have recommended over the years, though. But I do have to say, his terminology and context make the points a bit more clearly.

Let me map the overlap a bit. Communicators focus on the idea of messages in order to have employees notice the consistency that Marc is describing. If handled correctly (and not just as a mantra), messages create some meta patterns that establish the "big idea." They are supported by the "small ideas" that come via managers and should repeated throughout the performance cycle by managers and especially, execs.

In short, that is why it has been so unfulfilling to compensation practitioners to stick with the traditional program highlights, Qs and As approach to communications. But making it a once and done effort, you stop the patterns from multiplying out, like the waves from a stone thrown into a pond.

So a more complex communications strategy does build trust and belief, because not only does it allow the time for the patterns to grow and demonstrate themselves, but the "brand" is also confirmed through not only leadership and management's behavior in interactions, but also employees' behavior in interactions.

Sorry for the soap box, but this is so important, as you point out. So many practitioners have been frustrated by their communications efforts by the very fact that they didn't understand how important patterns are. The patterns influence people as they are demonstrated via behaviors and social interaction, not words alone. It takes a complex plan to influence behaviors and social interactions, as you can imagine, but it can be done by HR. Many companies have great stories to tell.


Thanks for the comment and the thought - yes, the compensation philosophy (assuming it is an authentic one) does sit at the core of the compensation brand. In that sense, it's important to start with a strong core if we're to have any hope for a strong brand!


Thanks so much for weighing in and adding some additional context and clarity. I react to Shillum's article and points as a compensation professional who is not a communications expert - but who works at building strong communication efforts to the best of her ability. I could be wrong - but I think many in the profession come from a similar place. People with expertise like yours - which truly straddles both compensation and communications - are the exception, unfortunately.

It's very helpful to have the overlap mapped and talked through from the point of view of someone with your background - and it's very heartening to know that we (collectively) are making strides in putting this level of branding and communication to work in some forward-thinking companies.

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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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