Tag Archives: management development

The Gift of Time

Imported Photos 00033Author:
Yendor Felgate – Emergence Consulting

I am continually reminded in my coaching that folk remain under pressure as we enter the new year. Rather than refreshing over the holiday period, many of us have brought our work, life and family challenges straight into the new year.

We probably don’t sufficiently acknowledge in difficult times that it requires huge amounts of additional energy and effort to produce the same results. This means that if we do not change the way we work and live, time will vanish even faster and we will not achieve as much.

In an effort to work smarter and enjoy the journey more in our never ending search for better results, I offer two approaches that have benefited me personally.  The first refers to the gift of time and the other is about living in the moment.

“Stop, Start, Go” Test

I often ask people what they can stop doing.  This tends to be an uncomfortable question.  Few of us seemingly want to stop being ridiculously busy.  It is almost as if being busy is the same as being valuable.  Being busy in this sense is both addictive and a habit.  As with all addictions, it is seductive and comes at a price.

The test is an easy one.

  • List all your activities for the last week.
  • Identify those activities that directly relate to your purpose or objectives.
  • The rest you can stop.

The difficulty is implementing this. The world will simply not understand at first what you are doing. However, keep going, they will catch on.

This is a tremendous team building opportunity.  Not surprisingly, people respond better to this than the traditional approach of being told to do more, or being harangued about needing to improve.  It does, though, require a willingness to simplify.

Simplicity is about having clarity on what is really important, rather than dumbing down.

Stop

The next hurdle is being told that there is nothing that can be stopped.  Let’s test this.  We ran the stop, start, go test on executive meetings at a banking client.  By simply doing away with unnecessary meetings and reducing meeting times, we gave back 20% of executives’ time.  How valuable would this be to you and your organisation?

Some other thoughts on stopping:

  • Stop emailing instead of doing real work
  • Stop doing things in triplicate
  • Stop being accessible 24/7
  • Stop asking your team leader to sign or see everything
  • Stop rework
  • Stop second guessing others
  • Stop worrying about things you have no control over

Start

Start saying “NO” to things that are not important.  The discomfort arises when we ask people when last they said ‘no’ to anything.

The conversation often starts with I cannot stop anything (you already know the answer to this) and ends with I cannot remember when last I said ‘no’.  Start saying “YES” to important things, but just be clear on what this is.

There is of course an art to saying “NO” and includes things like:

  • Not taking other people’s monkeys
  • You cannot live other people’s lives for them
  • Empowering others to make their own decisions
  • Sharing knowledge and information for others to implement

If people understand that you are trying to help them to help themselves, saying “NO” is easy.  Just remember, ‘no’ means ‘no’.

Go

The point is not to fill the time you have freed up with more work.  The “GO” aspect is about getting and keeping your balance.  You get the balance that you deserve.  In other words, if you allow work to intrude, you end up working.  The “GO” adage is go live your life.

This is almost impossible unless you live in the moment.

Living in the Moment

Living in the moment is a coaching term that refers to acknowledging and being present – the here and now.  When I ask this question, I am often told that “of course I am here and focused”, “just let me check my email”.

I think being able to parallel process is a wonderful gift, but the larger skill is ensuring people receive your full attention.  If you are not sure what this means, then watch children at play.

By being in the moment, you make better decisions, people respond better and you are more alive to possibility, than by keeping half your mind on the next meeting, and the next…….

I look forward to hearing your stop, start, go stories, so please share them with us.  Here is to the possibility of living in the moment this year!

More About Yendor:

International HR Forum Year in Review 2009 – Best of Leadership Development and Cross-Cultural

This is the final installment of our three-part “Best of …” series, where we will feature links to our best posts on selected topics. This part is focused on Leadership Development and Cross-Cultural topics.   If you missed the first post about Compensation and Benefits, you can take a look at it here.  The second in the series covered Expatriates and International Assignments.

The posts below are some of the most popular ones featured on the International HR Forum.

We hope you find these summary posts to be a helpful way to explore some of the best content on our blog.

Best of Leadership Development and Cross-Cultural topics from the 2009 Archives of the International HR Forum:

Red Flag for Global Recognition Programs

bio_400x400 Author:
Chuck Csizmar – CMC Compensation Group

When designing programs to recognize and reward an employee’s extraordinary achievements it’s important to understand the cultural implications of these programs.   Companies with a truly global operating mindset, vs. domestic-oriented organizations with international operations, will take into account national and cultural differences that distinguish its widespread employee populations.

One size rarely fits all.

You might think that the positive aspects of employee recognition programs are a universally accepted principle, but that’s only partially correct.  Important differences exist.  In some cultures / national identities the role of the team is such a core element of employee identification that seeking out an individual contributor for recognition would not be a welcome practice.  Some employees might be reluctant to step forward, or to be pushed into the spotlight.

In other countries you will find that the perceived value of cash as a recognition award varies a great deal.

Case study

A former employer of mine once implemented a global Spot Award program for its worldwide employees – without including their international HR community in the planning discussions.  Finalized program elements and procedures covered employees in over 20 countries in exactly the same fashion.  The premise was to provide immediate (read that, fast) recognition and financial rewards (Spot Awards) for those employees who demonstrated performance above and beyond their normal job roles.  Nominations for awards would come from an employee’s manager, though employees could recommend co-workers as well.

While the program was deemed a success in the US (though defined by only the dollars spent), it was much less successful elsewhere among the company’s far-flung international operations.

Lessons Learned

The first problem was that Managers outside the US placed a much more conservative financial value on so-called “extraordinary” employee contributions.  Or put another way, the US Managers were more generous in their payment awards than elsewhere.  The result was that the cash payments on a per-employee basis were widely skewed to the US employee.  Notwithstanding the vagaries of the various currency exchanges, the international offices did not spend their allotted recognition reward monies as frequently or as generously as their US counterparts.

I recall one scenario where a US employee received thousands of dollars for a particular project effort, while their European counterpart was given a non-cash award (recognition dinner).  This created more than a few awkward moments when the two employees shared experiences.

The second challenge was that many international employees did not want to be individually spotlighted by the recognition program.  They were willing to receive the award, but would rather the recognition be confidential.  Given that Corporate had planned an internal communications campaign to highlight individual award winners, that reluctance proved quite a hindrance.

Compounding the preference for anonymity was the desire for team over personal awards, as individual employees proved resistant to receiving the planned fanfare or preferential treatment – especially in front of their co-workers (team members).

The bottom line was that the recognition and reward program recognized a smaller than anticipated number of non-US employees, less reward money was spent per international employee, and Corporate Communications was hard pressed to find international employees amenable to being highlighted for the program.  Not exactly what the program designers had intended.

Corrective action

The answer seems straightforward, does it not?  If a global program is to affect all employees, then possible national or cultural distinctions among groups should be addressed, well in advance.  However, that would mean including representatives from those groups in the design and communication phases of the project.  Such a simple step seems a difficult one to take for many corporate plan designers.  Why?

When they have the bit between their teeth developing a program that affects the majority of employees, management is often reluctant to change course to include the differing sensitivities of small populations, especially if those populations do not speak with one voice.  What they prefer to do is have local representatives “tweak” the round peg into the square hole.

How does that work for you?

 

More About Chuck:

Leadership Development in Africa – Part I

Lex LindemannAuthors:
Lex Lindeman – HR Boosters and
Dr. Paul Rono – Kenyatta University (Nairobi)

In my last article, I highlighted the latest thinking in the area of western leadership development and the deployment of training programs in a corporate setting. In this short article, we will discuss some specific approaches to leadership development for public and private organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I would like to welcome Dr. Paul Rono as my co-author.  With Paul’s experience as a university lecturer and my experience as leadership developer for numerous private and public companies in Africa, we think we can give the reader a good ‘blend’ of effective leadership development for African managers.

Natural Leaders?
The leadership and philosophies of African political leaders have affected institutions and companies in various African countries for many years.  For example, charismatic leaders were believed to be those who have the natural capacity and personality traits or qualities to lead.  Hence, leaders were said to be born or natural “great men.”   Traditionally, leadership was said to be an attribute of personality.  Born or charismatic leaders become real leaders because they have such personality qualities but also: ambition, patience, pride, humility, wisdom, friendliness, dependability, force, endurance and, of course, managerial competencies.

Modern Functional Leadership is essentially to facilitate the interaction within a group to achieve preset goals, to realize the organization’s strategic objectives.  Such functional managers or leaders are usually nominated, appointed and selected from among equals.  If people utilize proper and effective managerial tools and motivation, performance and effectiveness increase considerably.  Of course, this is also applicable to African managers and leaders acquiring or possessing modern functional leadership skills in a target achievement and ‘productive’ environment.

Successful Leadership Behaviour
The elements enumerated above are essential to successful leadership behaviour.  The successful leader is:

  • Sensitive to the feelings of others, helpful, responsive and friendly.
  • Loyal to his ideals and ideas and respectful of the beliefs, rights and dignity of others.
  • Strong in his/her feelings of self-confidence and ability to identify easily with co-workers and supervisors.
  • Enthusiastic when informing others about the introduction of a strategic program.
  • Takes interest in improving the group and get work done and avoid envy and jealousy.
  • Endeavours to give others the benefit of doubt and or advantages and firm but not proud or stubborn in making judgments and decisions. They are sincere and straightforward.
  • Embraces change in their departments and don’t avoid reasonable risk taking.
  • Manages individual performance and steer their subordinates on a regular basis.

Successful African Leaders Competencies
The modern African leader or manager should be more ‘democratic’ in his/her relations with subordinates and at the same time maintain the necessary authority and control in the organization or institution for which he/she is responsible.  The somewhat less modern African leaders rely on collective accountability.  Good (thus effective) leaders inspire people/staff to perform optimally if necessary individually or as a team.  The best African leaders, despite their many differences in personality, practice certain principles like delegation, creativeness, networking, individual accountability and decision-making.

What are Effective Leaders?

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They take an interest in employees and communicate clearly and transparent.
  • They keep morale high. They encourage team spirit. They also give a feeling of being respected and being needed. They awaken enthusiasm and motivation.
  • They use commands sparingly. They avoid giving orders such as, “Do this!”, “Stop this,” or “Do it this way.” They request, not demand.
  • They show respect and faith to subordinates. They show the same consideration they would like to receive and show interest to others.
  • They welcome suggestions and prompt employees to think creatively. They avoid the phrase: “Yes but…” which generally is considered as a: “No!”
  • They handle grievances fairly. They act fairly. No favourites when assigning work. They are impartial.
  • They express approval. They show appreciation and complement, but they allow a certain level of mistakes made.
  • They create highly productive teams, delegate tasks wisely, and step aside.
  • They develop their people to enable them to prepare them to achieve more challenging goals.

 

 

Characteristics of Effective Leaders
The nature and style of functional (managerial) leadership greatly influence job satisfaction and motivation.  Effective leaders show consideration for employees and enable them to have a sense of participation in decisions that affect them and they will have the following characteristics:

  • Sensitivity to the individual problems people face on the job.
  • Availability and openness to people in need of help.
  • Sympathy with adverse conditions in the work environment.
  • The ability to establish more than a boss-worker relationship.
  • Above all delegate challenging tasks to their subordinates.

Highly productive leaders tend to spend more time than less productive managers to:

  • Motivate and inspire their employees and provide structure.
  • Keep employees informed.
  • Get ideas and suggestions on important matters before going ahead.
  • Try out new ideas with them.
  • Show consideration for their needs.
  • Coach their workers individually.
  • Develop and train employees for increased responsibilities.

Managers and Leadership Development
Most leaders want to be more effective in their leadership.  Some think they only need to learn techniques, others assume that they can learn a magic formula or foolproof method.  Effective functional leadership implies an intensive development process.  Some of the ability comes as a result of experience, some by learning from mistakes, by profiling from the experience and mistakes of others, from personal insights and by learning managerial skills.

To become truly effective African Managers and Leaders they will have to be developed through sustainable leadership competency programs that offer training with a difference.  (See “Trends in Leadership development” Part II).  These development efforts should be highly interactive, aimed at leadership and managerial competencies such as delegation and responsibilities acceptance.  These customized interventions are generally short (maximum 4 to 5 days) followed up and coached by their superiors, i.e. the participants should be given room to ‘experiment’ with their newly acquired skills.

In Summary
It is certain that African countries will grow and develop in the coming years; look at the example of the pace of growth of mobile phone networks and coverage.  Efficient infrastructures, systems and processes are put in place. However, just this is not enough; Inspiring Functional Leadership is an absolute necessity for growth.  Sustainable investment in the modern development of African managers and leaders is primordial.  In order to accelerate and maintain growth in Sub-Saharan Africa we must put in place the right learning work environment and formal, high-impact development possibilities.

In our next article, Paul and I will go deeper into specific competency development aspects such as the ability to delegate tasks, sense of responsibility and speeding up the execution of tasks, again related to African managers and leaders.

More About the Authors

More About Lex:

More About Paul:
Dr. Rono is a lecturer at Kenyatta University in Nairobi.  He is an authority on leadership development, and has published various articles related to leadership development in Africa with a progressive yet adoptable and realistic view.  Watch for his new website coming soon!

Managing Across Cultures

Warren Heaps photoAuthor:
Warren Heaps Birches Group LLC

Cultural knowledge is critical when operating in today’s global business environment.  There is a wonderful new book penned by my friends Mike Schell and Charlene Solomon from RW-3 called Managing Across Cultures: The Seven Keys to Doing Business with a Global Mindset.  It’s a terrific read.

If you work with global teams, deal with people from different countries, or perhaps your company is exploring business expansion into new country markets, you will find this book extremely valuable.  Check out this interview from Fortune magazine with the authors, too.

More About Warren

Warren Heaps

Warren on LinkedIn

Email Warren

Birches Group

 

Trends in Leadership Development – Part 2

lexierwandaqwAuthor:
Lex Lindeman and Han van der Pool – HR Boosters

In my previous post, I wrote about the various ways to approach Leadership Development in Public or Private Organizations.  In this blog, I will go somewhat deeper into recent developments and strategies within Leadership Development.

The traditional executive development programs which concentrate on management theories and exhaustive cases studies have in recent years become less and less popular.  The poor usability of these modalities for current complex global business challenges, coupled with low ROI (Return on Investment) is the reason.  But there are interesting alternatives.

New Approaches
There are many new ways to expose current and future leaders to development activities.  Some of the most interesting ones include:

  • Customized programs developed specifically for the company by consultants and universities in which current questions and strategies are carefully observed.
  • Action learning projects in which participants treat real questions and where the implementation of the solutions in a follow-up session can be discussed.  The so-called Journey programs, in which managers are exposed to problems which can only be solved through good teamwork and perseverance, are examples of this.
  • Company simulations in which the participants are faced with the impact of their decisions.  These can include presentations of experienced managers from the company, in which examples and experiences are analyzed and discussed.
  • Personal development plans coupled with feedback coaching and execution of specific tasks.
  • Master classes to promote acquisition of technical skills and general knowledge sharing, including follow-up instruments to indicate the degree of success directly to the participant.

Developing A Program
A successful leadership development program is achieved by following these basic steps:

  • A Leadership Framework – Define the skills and characteristics of effective leadership within the company.
  • Curriculum – Link to specific leadership programs with several target groups within the company.
  • Measurement of the success of the programs and evaluation of their impact on both short- and long-term results of the company.
  • Continuous Adaptation to changing or new leadership profiles.

Authoritative Strategies
Here are some of the best strategies for creating your leadership development program and implementing it in your organization:

Use of Technology
Computer technology can be used to support development and learning.  The electronic support can focus on:

  • The learning process itself, both individually and in groups;
  • Developing and mastering education material and learning processes;
  • Organizing learning activities.

Some corporate universities have, for example, their own virtual learning environment. Participants from all over the world can work on specific learning programs. The virtual learning environment supports them with the learning process.  The websites offer the participants the possibility to get access in a simple way to specific and often personalized e-learning sources.

These sources are categorized in the website, so the visitor can simply click on internal and/or external Internet sites with specific content coupled to the learning curricula. These so-called learning platforms have been organized around one or a number of specific subjects.

The websites provide the user with the possibility of gathering information but also providing a contribution himself.  This is enabled through several functionalities (supported technologies) such as chat-functions and groupware.  E-learning applications replace a part of the “physical learning routes”, and as a result, the `classroom’ components become shorter.

“Just-in-Time” Learning
On-the-job experiences are a valuable component of development and learning.  We talk about interventions instead of courses because the element of coaching, training on-the-job, action learning and exchange of knowledge and skills through networks play an important role in the development of employees.

The chosen intervention must be related as close as possible to the needs of the employee.

The direct superior is the most suitable person to confirm the need related to the work processes, and the right time to pursue it.  A modular program off-the-shelf and managerial training can support the development if necessary.

Corporate Universities
Many organizations have decentralized their training departments or fully outsourced them.  Many have created corporate universities exclusively for their own employees.  These training departments serve a broad target group and organize a large variety of training and workshops including ‘open registration’.

The difference between a corporate university and a traditional training department is the strategic position it has in the organization, and the role it plays in leadership development, creativity and the problem solving capacity within the organization.

Corporate universities contribute to translating the vision of the company to work processes of the employees.  They focus on those skills which are essential for the functioning of the company.  In increasing complex and competitive business environments, traditional universities are not always fast enough to be able to anticipate to the specific needs of a company. Many organizations also prefer to keep the specific knowledge exclusively within the company.

In Summary
In this post, I’ve highlighted the latest thinking in the area of leadership development and the deployment of training programs in a corporate setting.  In my next blog, I will go deeper into more specific approaches to leadership development for public and private organizations in sub-Saharan Africa.

More About Lex:

Trends in Leadership Development – Part 1

lexierwandaqwAuthors:
Lex Lindeman and Han van der Pool – HR Boosters

Leadership is the most important condition for success in organizations. Quality of products and services, improvement of sales results and innovation are all positively influenced by leadership development within a company.  Leading organizations believe development for executives and managers should be an integrated part of their company strategy. Globalization, company growth, and the continuous introduction of new technologies require new skills for company leaders.  In the end, it is leadership that determines the economic performance of the company.

Executives Are Taking Charge of Their Own Development

Research shows that executives who take care of their personal development have a competitive advantage.  Leadership development has also a big influence in the way employees can exploit their knowledge and competencies, and also enhances the retention of talented staff.

Organizations are now offering more and more proactive leadership development within individual development plans.  According to a survey of the American Management Association (AMA), more than 25% of organizations spend more than one-third of their annual training budget on leadership development programs.  Some of the latest leadership development approaches include:

  • External leadership development programs organized by universities, executive training institutes and training through professional companies
  • Internal leadership training programs
  • Temporary ‘stretch’ assignments which help an individual to develop new skills and competencies
  • International assignments to obtain new experiences
  • External leadership training organized by consultants
  • Job rotation
  • Formal mentoring programs

Of course, not all learning takes place in a formal training situation. Experience based on internal and external studies for the US Department of Labor (1995) into the way in which high performing leaders learn, indicates that formal training is just 10% of how people learn.

High-Teach, High-Tech, High-Touch

In the current competitive market, Human Resource professionals always try to find ways to organize training in the most effective way.  Some options:

  • High-Teach methods are all methods aimed at the person to ensure that learning takes place as effectively, pleasantly and efficiently possible.  High-Teach is all about learning and lesson methods.  From an initial interview, specific learning objectives for the participant are formulated, and the learning methods and instruments are adapted to the participants, their context and the characteristics of the competencies.
  •  High-Tech methods are all the applications and instruments which can be offered for preparation, deepening or development of subjects on-line with a computer
    (e-Learning).  E-Learning is common for both applications training (learning to work with software packages) and for general managerial skills.  This method is usually very efficient; a participant can learn at a moment of his choice wherever he is.  By means of the computer, you can gather knowledge, but real insight in your own person, or to practice skills and behaviors, you’ll need to interact with others.  The computer doesn’t offer that interaction, yet the bulk of your development always takes place in relation to others.
  • High-Touch methods are all working methods which are aimed to deepen and intensify contact with the participant.  This process requires confidence and security for openness, and the courage to explore.  It is always the mutual connection which makes the moment instructive.  Inviting people to openly explore new ideas is the nature of High-Touch.

Coaching Methods

Coaching is considered as a flexible and confidential communication from both sides in which an executive can give feedback, and receive support and recommendations. Executive coaching is organized in three different manners.

  • Feedback Coaching is direct feedback given within the framework of a personal development plan, and addresses specific questions (duration: on average up to three months).
  • In-Depth Coaching is a close and deep relationship between the executive manager and a coach.  During the sessions, they work on specific and mostly personal questions (average duration: from six up to twelve months).
  • Substantive Coaching provides leaders with support to address substantively complex questions with the objective to increase skills, capacities and competencies (duration: variable).

In successful leadership development programs, several methods are often used.  Support from top management and a strong link to strategic questions are conditions for success.  The outcome of the programs must help the managers to solve questions from their daily business practice.

Recent Developments

Creative and non-traditional programming is becoming more and more important.   Traditional course programs in an auditorium are de-emphasized, and there is a clear movement from High-Teach to High-Touch.  Some organizations also add High Tech elements to their programs.

Other recent developments include:

  • Tailor-made programs developed specifically for the company by consultants and universities in which current questions and strategies are carefully observed.
  • The development of ‘action learning’ programs such as the so-called ‘journey programs’ in which managers are exposed to problems which can only be solved through good teamwork and perseverance.
  • Elaboration of personal development plans with coupled feedback, coaching and execution of specific tasks.
  • Increasing attention to acquiring technical skills and sharing knowledge.

In my next post, I will provide additional, in-depth insights into several of these recent innovations.

In Summary

Organizations have to deal with a range of challenges to anchor leadership. Research has shown (Tichy, 1997) that successful organizations have several leaders, at each level of the organization.  This starts at the top.  Leaders with an established reputation and a track record of success are the best learning masters for others and future leaders.  Developing leadership in an organization is not possible without the commitment of the top leaders in the organization.

More About Lex:

Dealing with Compensation 101

bio_400x400

Author:

Chuck Csizmar – CMC Compensation Group

I once supervised a Compensation Analyst who had spent a great deal of time attending professional seminars and workshops.  She had attended these instructional sessions to learn about Compensation, as part of her professional development.

One result of that education was a favored response when faced with a challenge at work; she would fall back on her class work experience by saying, “the greatest minds in Compensation say that . . . “.  It took a great deal of patience on my part to educate this part time practitioner / part time student in the difference between the classroom / textbook answer and the reality of the workplace.

A short while ago I came across an HR blog in which the author was instructing readers in how to create a merit performance matrix.  Very good stuff, I thought, admiring the technical step-by-step instructions, except I knew from long experience that the procedure being described would never work in the real world.  Didn’t the author realize that?

Yes, it is very important to understand the technical foundations of Compensation methodology and practice, but first and foremost you need to anchor yourself in the real world, to know what will work and not work in your own organization – no matter what the finest minds in Compensation think.

Why doesn’t Compensation theory always match compensation reality in the workplace?

  • Business realities:  management will typically know more about a particular business situation than you do.  What you are able to provide to the decision-making process as a Compensation professional is limited to your particular subject area, while management usually has the bigger picture – the perspective of multiple viewpoints. Your compensation advice may not fit their business reality, no matter how logical an argument you make.
  • Bias of decision-makers: decision-makers may feel that they intuitively *know* the right approach to take (they’ve done it before, if-it’s-not-broke- don’t-fit-it mentality, a friend / relation / old college chum suggested an approach, etc.).  Perhaps they read an article just the other day and now are insistent to follow the advice of an author who doesn’t have a clue about their particular business.  Years ago I worked for a company whose CEO forced HR to implement a particular benefit plan because he had read a magazine article.  It does happen.
  • Problem avoidance: short of killing the messenger, one solution for management is to do nothing about a problem (you’ve exaggerated it, the solution costs too much, there’s still time, etc.).  Senior managers can be like politicians in avoiding the *big* decision unless it bites them in the leg.  It can sometimes be dangerous to your career if you try to force a decision.
  • Business culture or model: some initiatives just don’t “fit” in your organization.  Managers with a laid back organization style will not be interested in demands to document everything, standardize policies and procedures and have approved forms for every possible use.  Picture your head banging against the wall.

Aside from management giving you a dose of reality across the cheek , sometimes those subject matter experts who instruct in Compensation techniques fail to ground their instructions with a caution to their students: check this process out in the reality of your workplace *before* you take a laboratory technique and wave it in the face of your management.

Two examples:

1)      Merit matrix:  when designing a pay-for-performance merit increase matrix the standard rule is to place the average increase percentage in the cell block most populated by employees (average performance and average position-in-range).   The sound reasoning for this technique is to better manage the costs associated with that year’s annual increase process.

A lot of years ago I followed that approach in my first compensation leadership role.  I still have a little bump where my head hit the wall.

Here’s the rub; such a technique requires that the matrix change every year, as the analysis demands you study where the population averages are for each year.  But management will likely have none of that. They want the same matrix every year, for ease of administration and communication.

2)      Cost of living as a basis for pay increases: I once watched over a fascinating exchange on a Compensation bulletin board where the debate raged on for days over the appropriate formulae to use for calculating the cost of living vs. cost or labor as it affected the average pay increase that management would approve.  Each side would provide formulae, charts and graphs and quotes from notable experts to press home their opinion.

The reality for this exchange is that management does not use the cost of living as a prime determinant in their decision-making.  They are more likely to roll their eyes at the technical debate and ask only about competitiveness and bottom line cost – and why can’t we do the same as we did last year?  If their decision relates to the cost of living in some way, that’s only a nice coincidence that they can use in their communications.

An area that separates the compensation technician from the compensation professional is the ability to deal with what I call the “softer” side of compensation.  Survey statistics, charts and formulae are very good to a point, but management will want to know what it means and what to do about it.  So the answer isn’t simply reporting the data, but in taking that next step to help management understand and strategize their next move.

The contribution you can make to your organization is blending the technical knowledge (the how-to) with seasoning and experience to understand what will work for your organization, considering culture and management bias.  Technical knowledge will give you the same answer every time, but knowing how to use that knowledge like a craftsman’s tool to aid in achieving business objectives – that is the key to success as a Compensation professional.