All in Leadership Development
As I have written before, equity is not about being equal. And as I have covered many, many times before, I am a true proponent of performance-based pay. Call it variable, call it personalized, call it incentive pay. Whatever you call it, I have made the argument that some people should get paid far more than others.
I like envisioning pay transparency using the idea of windows. There is a great reason we created windows many ages ago. They let light in. They allow us to look out. They can be designed to let in the fresh air, and they can provide coverage for those things not meant for the eyes of others.
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.
I recently attended a compensation conference and there was great speaker, Elizabeth Borges of Github, who covered the topic of pay disparity from new angles. She discussed some of the root causes of gender inequity from the perspective of psychology (among other things.) During the Q&A the audience discussed some of their company’s challenges and successes. It was good to see that many companies were taking active roles in addressing historic inequity, but disappointing that most still had issues with avoiding inequity in the future.
The more useful type of tension can be as magical as the tug of a helium balloon on the string in a child’s hand. It can also be equally difficult to control and similarly capable of escape. It can also be as dynamic as launching from a trampoline. Learning to use it properly takes practice, but the results can be pretty impressive. This is the tension that effectively links pay and performance. It is also the tension that links groups, and entire companies, together into a stronger, more cohesive entity.
Perhaps I should have titled this “Ownership without leadership is almost certainly doomed.” A business near me was recently sold to a new owner. The place ran like a top for more than a decade. It had established procedures, great service and great products. The owners regularly spent time on site, and in the mix of day to day activities. Then it was sold as a “turnkey” operation.
As compensation professionals, all we can actively do is provide data and guidance with a blind eye. But, we can also be a reminder of the opportunity each company has to fix this issue at any time they wish. There is no rule that says we must wait until next year. There is no reason that, with every new CEO hired or promoted, this situation can’t improve. Done with simple intent without upheaval this issue can be corrected over several years, and certainly less than a decade.
Coaching your employees presents the chance to help others grow in their individual roles and capacities, contribute to the betterment of the individual as a whole, and thereby enrich the organization. However, even leaders with this understanding grapple with how to go about this effectively. To truly maximize the performance of your team, leveraging the right tools will undoubtedly drive development and build the leadership capacity in your organization.