Performing an equity compensation risk assessment is a good place to start. Review both your strategy and tactical processes for granting stock options and RSUs. Evaluate whether your award features, vesting schedules and exercisability are optimally situated to weather Red Giant transformation.

Could it be that we are designing and communicating incentives for our highest performance all wrong? A recent study titled “Reappraisal of incentives ameliorates choking under pressure and is correlated with changes in the neural representations of incentives” appears to show that the fear of losing a reward allows people to perform at the edge better than the desire for earning more award.

Career progression has historically focused on providing growth for individual contributors and managers. Both roles are essential and pay for one path relative to the other can reflect this. Earning potential is linked to the skills and talents of the individual, their performance, the performance of the department in which they work, or the company as a whole.

Is it too odd to work? It’s too early to tell if the program will have a lasting impact on talent acquisition, staff performance or long-term retention. Different has worked well for many companies in the past. It has also failed spectacularly many times. But, fear of the unknown has not scared employees away from work for tons of companies who are at the leading edge of their industry.

As we fly through another holiday season let’s take a look at some of the stockings hanging on the executive compensation mantle. This is the time of year for gifts and coal. Some are based on lists and requirements, others are a tad bit more…discretionary. In the end, like every year, most get something nice, some get more than they deserve, and others finally get a reminder that being bad has a cost.