Everything in Compensation is Changing. Is That Such a Bad Thing?

"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change." ~John A. Simone, Sr. There have been times over the past 8 or 9 years where I felt like "Chicken Little" yelling that the sky was falling. Countless people have heard me, in both private and public conversations, selling crazy ideas like: "Say on Pay is coming"; "Performance-based equity is our future" and; "The compensation world as we know it is changing forever...what will we do?"

As it turns out, it took a long time for most of these things to happen.  And, unfortunately, the changes were mostly motivated by an economic collapse that many pundits say was implicitly or explicitly caused by historic compensation practices.  Well, the game has indeed changed, so let's talk about what that means.

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history." ~Joan Wallach Scott"

I have been fortunate enough to have attended many industry events over the past 18 months. I have spoken to hundreds of compensation professionals from around the US and the world.  These individuals included some of the most influential people in our industry. The consensus is out: Everything is changing and nothing will ever be the same.

"Neither a wise man nor brave man ties down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him." ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

First of all, is change such a bad thing?  Does any successful person truly believe they have mastered their industry or passion and can now be left to merely manage it?  Obviously, change is inevitable and of course, we only want to change for the better.  In the case of the changes to the compensation field, rules may be evolving, but we are in a unique position to impact how the game will be played.

"Change always comes bearing gifts." ~Price Pritchett

Requests for market data are off the charts.  Everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing, or planning to do.  But, to paraphrase our current president, "We are the market data we are waiting for."  Before any new market data will validly show the impact of the new rules we will first have to make the changes required to evolve.  So, what are we to do?

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." ~Alan Kay

I suggest we embrace the potential, rather than dread the effort and uncertainty. Personally, potential is the only thing that truly motivates me.  This is an opportunity to fashion compensation programs in a way that BEST supports the success of our people and organizations.  This will provide a distinct chance to educate executives and broad-based staff on how and why compensation programs are structured for a specific company.  These are exciting possibilities.  In fact, very few professionals will see such an occasion to transform their profession in the course of their careers.  What amazing potential we will have over the next 12-24 months!

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." ~Thomas Edison

Just consider everything changing as a chance to play a whole new game.  Yes, the old game was fun, but perhaps we had played it to its eventual conclusion.  We now get a chance to take what we learned and apply it to a new set of rules and, perhaps, exciting new results.  A game without rules isn't any fun anyway.

So, everything is changing, but that does not have to be a bad thing.  Play on my friends! I look forward to seeing you on the field.

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