I was reading my first monthly magazine from Investment Advisor, a subscription offer that had peaked my interest, though I sit outside their target market. (Since I think about one’s career as perhaps their core asset in their investment portfolio, it made perfect sense to take a look at this magazine that targets the advising community to see what was being suggested to advising professionals.)
Here is the article that really struck me between the eyes- “Just Rewards“, by Mark Tibergien, a principal at Moss Adams LLP and author of Practice Made Perfect. For this audience of investment advisors, Tibergien recalls the elements of compensation that have varying degrees of effectiveness in getting the best return on time from employees. He notes the six elements of compensation as follows:
- Base Pay
- Short-term Incentive
- Long-term Incentive
- Benefits & Prerequisites
- Retirement Plans
So a few thoughts –
a) if you thought such compensation packages were reserved only for executives, maybe you should consider your industry choice, and
b) being well compensated isn’t the same as being valued.
The elements noted by Tibergien would be great if only management could/would exercise these levers. But it just doesn’t happen that way, and in public companies, those pieces best suited to motivate are typically restricted to the most senior employees- executives (long term incentives, equity).
So if you are thinking that all hope is lost of motivating mid-level employees, consider this – while compensation is powerful, there are other tools at your disposal. If you have done a good job thinking through the opportunities in the role, you should be able to paint a powerful picture of the opportunity that awaits the right candidate. Being “valued” isn’t the same as being excessively compensated, but lack of relevant compensation requires that you have to be prepared to lose top performers to higher-paying interests.
Among the options for bringing better results out of your team without the best comp packages in town:
- Ownership of Results. Every employee should be thinking about how their work is enhancing their personal brand. If you can’t give them equity in the firm, give them a larger stake of ownership in their projects so that they can “own” the results. Be very upfront about your willingness to publicize this – both within and outside the company.
- Leverage Learning Opportunities. As an individual contributor or manager, there is no less maximized tool than the corporate learning environment – both OJT and formal sessions. Cross training your folks gives them broader (and more marketable) skillsets, and also builds a stronger base when turnover occurs.
- Managers – consider it your duty to ensure your team maximizes their training budget each and every year;
- Employees – don’t rely on someone else to do this: know what your budget is, and seek out those opportunities that will make you more marketable not just within the firm but in the market at large.
- Manage the prerequisites within your control. Flex time. Assignment choices. Hours of work. Praise. Thoughtful and Developmental feedback/criticism. If you are part of management, manage. All of these tools can informally be manipulated on a case-by-case basis. Know that someone will whine, and you risk being accused of favoritism. But the opportunity for subjective reward is well within your scope.
If you want superioro results, you must be willing to truly monitor and manage the output of your team. They must feel valued, and have something to show for all their hard work (only a part of which is cash in a bank account). As important as the results-reward equation is, remember that other tools exist for managers seeking to stretch professionals and reward them for achievement.
My favorite quote from the piece?
“Plans that donâ€™t consider what motivates each employee will have little impact on behavior, or worse, encourage behavior that is detrimental to the firm.”
Was this article supposed to be ironic? Genius.