I live in San Francisco and as I walk the streets it is impossible to ignore the magnificent homes all over the city. There are an incredible variety of styles and many streets are lined with grand Victorian or Edwardian homes. These homes are generally two or three stories high and include many interesting details. Some are painted in a monotone and most are painted in two or three colors (the base and the trim), but occasionally I will pass a home that stops me in my tracks. These magnificent homes have intricate color schemes with many of the intricate details painted in bright colors of gold leaf. Small features are called out with flourish and the homes seem to stand up taller and more confidently than those that surround them. These prized possessions show the passion the owners have for their what is likely there investment. Interestingly, the houses that surround these amazing homes are also more ornately decorated than houses on other blocks.This got me to thinking about compensation programs (lately nearly everything gets me thinking about them!).
Most of us care enough to paint the base and trim of our compensation programs. We pick a good base program and complimentary program or two and dutifully apply these in what we believe are strategic ways. In the end we have very nice programs that fit in well on our street, but seldom stop someone in their tracks. Although our goals are to attract, motivate and retain great staff members, we generally design our programs simply to be satisfactory. Then, there are those unique companies that really go all out. They take the time to not only paint the base and trim, but they make sure the little, unique details are readily visible and understood. They passionately communicate the whole package and the individual pieces in a way that shows their love for their programs. These programs stop people in their tracks and often become the subjects of presentation articles and industry evolution.
I often wonder what it is that drives these passionate companies. Is it simply a pride and confidence in who they are? Is it a desire to prove they are better than those around them? Whatever it is, I wish I could inspire every company to embrace their plans in this manner. These “best houses on the street” provide all of us with an example of what truly can be done.
Imagine if every company had the passion to decorate their compensation plan to its fullest potential. Imagine if every plan got the ongoing care and attention of the best plans. Of course this would take a bit more time and effort, but the results appear to speak for themselves. If you did this, what would your own plan look like? The plans of those companies around you would surely have to follow. I think of this exciting potential every day and it inspires me to push at the edge of the envelope. Perhaps we all just need to take this slow summer time of the year and finish painting our houses. I wish you all the ability to have the prettiest house on the street by end of 2010.