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HR today, what tomorrow?

N Peri Sastry, Jul 28, 2003, 12.10am IST

Human resource management is undergoing a massive transformation that will change career paths in
as-yet uncertain ways. Employers are placing greater emphasis on business acumen and are automating
and outsourcing many administrative functions, which will force HR professionals to demonstrate new
skills and compete for new, sometimes unfamiliar roles. Job titles and functions will likely remain in flux for
some time, say business leaders, academics, HR consultants and HR professionals. But they feel that
some of the standard niches such as HR generalist and benefits specialist will become less
common and less important, giving way over time to new ones such as HR business analyst.

Separating Compensation Theory from Reality

By Chuck Csizmar | July 22, 2013

I once supervised a compensation analyst who had spent a great deal of time attending professional
seminars and workshops to learn about Compensation, as part of her professional development.
One result of that education was a favored response when faced with a challenge at work; she
would fall back on her class work experience by saying, the greatest minds in Compensation say
that . . . . It took a great deal of patience on my part to educate this part-time practitioner / part-time
student in the difference between the classroom / textbook answer and the reality of the workplace.
A short while ago I came across an HR blog where the author was instructing readers in how to
create a merit performance matrix. Very good stuff, I thought, admiring the technical step-by-step
instructions except I knew from long experience that the procedure being described would never
work in the real world. Didnt the author realize that?
While its very important to understand the technical foundations of compensation methodology and
practice, first and foremost you need to anchor yourself in the real world, to know what will work and
not work in your own organization no matter what the finest minds in Compensation think.
Why doesnt compensation theory match compensation reality in the workplace?

Business realities: Management will typically know more about a particular business situation
than you do. What youre able to provide to the decision-making process as a compensation
professional is limited to your particular subject area, while management usually has the bigger
picture the perspective of multiple viewpoints. Your compensation advice may not fit their
business reality, no matter how logical an argument you make.

Bias of decision-makers: Decision-makers may feel that they intuitively know the right
approach to take (theyve done it before, if-its-not-broke- dont-fit-it mentality, a friend / relation /
old college chum suggested an approach, etc.). Perhaps they read an article and are now
insisting on following the advice of an author who doesnt have a clue about their organizations
business. Years ago I worked for a company whose CEO forced HR to implement a particular
benefit plan because he had read a magazine article. It does happen.

Problem avoidance: Short of killing the messenger, one solution for management is to do
nothing about a problem youve exaggerated it, the solution costs too much, lets wait and see,
etc. Senior managers can be like politicians when it comes to avoiding a big decision until it
bites them in the leg. Good or bad, remember that it can be dangerous to your career if you try
to force a decision.

Business culture or model: Some initiatives just dont fit in your organization. Managers with
a relaxed organization style will not be interested in demands to document everything,
standardized policies and procedures, or having approved forms for every possible
use. Implementing against the culture can be an exercise in frustration and futility.

Subject matter experts who instruct in compensation techniques should always remember to ground
their instructions with a caution to students: remember to account for the reality of the workplace
before taking a textbook technique to management.
Two examples:
1) Merit matrix: When designing a pay-for-performance merit increase matrix the standard rule is to
place the average increase percentage in the block populated by most employees (average
performance and average position-in-range). The reasoning for this technique is to better manage
the costs associated with that years annual increase process.
Many years ago I followed that approach in my first compensation leadership role, and still have a
little bump where my head hit the wall.
Heres the rub: such a technique requires that the matrix change every year, as the analysis
demands you annually consider where the population averages are. But management will likely
have none of that. Theyll want the same matrix every year, for ease of administration and
2) Cost of living as a basis for pay increases: I once watched over a fascinating exchange on a
compensation blog where the debate raged on for days over the appropriate formulae to use for
calculating the cost of living vs. cost or labor as it affected the average pay increase that

management would approve. Each side provided formulae, charts, graphs and quotes from notable
experts to press home their opinion.
The reality for this exchange is that management does not use the cost of living as a prime
determinant in their decision-making. They are more likely to roll their eyes at the technical debate
and ask only about competitiveness and bottom line cost and why cant we do the same as we did
last year? If their decision relates to the cost of living in some way, thats a convenient coincidence
that they can use in their communications.
The contribution you can make to your organization is blending the technical knowledge (the how-to)
with seasoning and experience to understand what will work for your organization, considering
culture and management bias. Technical knowledge will give you the same answer every time, but
knowing how to use that knowledge like a craftsmans tool to aid in achieving business objectives
thats the key to success as a Compensation professional.
Chuck Csizmar is the Founder & Principal of CMC Compensation Group,an independent global
compensation consulting firm whose expertise lies in helping companies manage the effective and
efficient utilization of financial rewards for their employees. He also maintains a popular blog on
compensation at his website
Posted in Exclusive Content, Featured | 9 Comments
9 Comments on Separating Compensation Theory from Reality

Don Miller said:

Chuck well stated.

Posted on 29. July 2013 at 04:51


Jim Harvey said:

Great reality check. As one of those who has been teaching the theory for many years, I can
recognize your Jr. Compensation Analyst in every class.
Being more senior in my career I might add that one of the best career moves I ever made was
leaving the first company I ever worked for after 10 years. Great company and good people to
work with, but to your point, I only ever learned about one way to do things, only ever
experienced one culture and a mostly static set of business issues. Ive now made a few moves
in my career where I recognize why theory will or will not work, one where I quit without having
another job to go because the management and decision-making had become too ineffective.

Having the technical knowledge in compensation is critical to crafting workable business

solutions but having the understanding of how to use and apply it even more so.

Posted on 29. July 2013 at 06:18


Rick Watt said:

Good article Chuck. As a practitioner that has always been in the corporate world, I find that this
issue is often found in consultants that try to bring the standard textbook answer and do not
have the reality check of living the results. I would however challenge the concept that
management just want the same as last year if the compensation leader can give a clearly
articulated understanding of the compensation system and how it fits the business, Ive found
that managers and leaders are willing to adapt. There are a lot of variables business
challenges, market changes, talent needs, all need to be taken into accon as the solution for
each year is developed. Id like to hear other thoughts as well and see how we can challenge
each other to get better.

Posted on 29. July 2013 at 10:28


Robert Crow said:

Well said. Compensation is over rated in its ability to motivate. Compensation is at best a
satisfier. But is people see themselves as being left behind they may be motivated to look for
another job. Your pay must be competitive for your area and industry. You should also know if
you are competing locally, regionally, or nationally for talent. Your compensation levels should
be set at a level that enables you to attract and retain the workforce you need to run a successful

Posted on 29. July 2013 at 10:38


Alison Kennedy said:

To be a little controversial The only time compensation drives action is when a person is
signing a contract. After that you are only ever rewarding the past and rarely influencing the
action a person takes in the next 30 minutes.
What would happen if we shortened the cycle and paid for performance month to month or
quarter to quarter. Just like in sales incentives I wonder if we would actually influence
behaviour then ?

Posted on 1. August 2013 at 02:53


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Posted on 10. August 2013 at 12:36


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Posted on 25. August 2013 at 02:56


Pascalis C. Lotinggi said:

Good reminder to those involved in compensation matters.

Approach to compensation varies from organization to organization. For small organizations, it
may not be financially feasible to give pay increase every year.
There are other ways of motivating employees other than giving pay increase every year.
In pay-for-performance, the organization needs to have an effective performance appraisal
system put in place. Cost of living is another way of determining pay increase but there must be
a limit to this. You cannot keep on increasing pay year after year, and especially when the
organization falls on lean years.

Posted on 29. August 2013 at 21:36


sattra said:

Dear sir/ madam

I have gone through your today article which sound well but unfortunately i dont agree with your
statement. You cant blame the entire organisation its totally depend on the organisation policy
and as well as it very person to person.

Posted on 9. September 2013 at 13:46

Work enjoyment helps employee retention


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If you are facing employee retention issues, this free article by Derek Stockley may help.

in a magazine review article, a cartoon showed the typical slave master, complete with
whip, walking the aisle of an old style ship. The rowers were struggling under the threat of
the whip. The caption stated:
Apart from greater use of the whip, the new IR rules have made absolutely no difference to
the way we treat our employees.
It reminded me of the old saying (source unknown):
We will stop using the whip when morale improves.
The cartoon was a "tongue in cheek" comment about the new industrial relations (IR)
legislation introduced by the federal government. In a previous article, Staff motivation in the
industrial relations reform context, I discussed some of the motivational issues raised by the
various campaigns surrounding the reforms.
The imagery of the cartoon again highlights the importance of the employer/employee
This is now even more important, given that employee retention is now such a big issue.
So what can you do?

Employee friendly policies and practices

Young people are more mobile and less committed to individual organisations. The baby
boomers are approaching retirement age.

To retain staff, organisations have to be more flexible, ensuring that work/life balance is
When we talk about work/life balance, we tend to picture in our mind couples with young
children. It actually applies to all employees. Work/life balance applies to young, single
people and older people seeking shorter working hours.
People want to experience life. They want to travel. They want flexibility and because of the
skills shortage, they can seek out organisations that cater for these aspirations.
So organisations need to have supportive policies like sabbaticals (12 months leave of
absence without pay) and flexible working hours.
Once the policies are in place, managers and team leaders need to implement them
correctly. Workplace flexibility is much harder to manage. Sometimes it hard to meet
operational demands when everyone wants Friday off to make it a four day weekend (eg.
Queens Birthday public holiday on the Monday). But it has to be managed. The good intent
behind the flexibility policy is lost if it is too much hassle to get the time off you need. There
has to be a match between reality and expectations.
These things are about the interaction between work and private time.
What about the time actually spent at work?

Work environment and culture

'Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life'
Confucius (551-479 BC), Chinese philosopher
Employee retention is about the nature of the work itself and the work environment/culture.
What can you do?
Firstly, you have to get the basics right - good pay, appropriate conditions, etc.

Secondly, you have to remove the fear of uncertainty - employees should feel safe and
secure in their employment. They should not be concerned about your employment
practices. They should not picture you 'with a whip'.
Thirdly, you have to work hard to create and maintain a good work culture and climate.
I define culture as 'the way we do things around here' and climate as 'how things are around
The culture should be friendly, work focussed but not obsessed. People should have fun
when the pressure is off and work hard when the pressure is on.
At the time I worked in the health insurance industry, the federal government kept changing
the system, meaning major system changes every 12 months or so.
I was actively involved in change management (policies, systems and the like), so I found
the work very challenging and motivating. But all the staff 'got a buzz' from the peak
workload as many customers made contact simultaneously. For about four weeks every
year, work was extremely busy, and then workloads would return to normal levels. It was
serious. It was fun. It would have been impossible to work at that pace all year, but the
'positive feeling' of a job well done lasted a long time.
The organisational culture and climate supported staff in this peak workload. It was
appropriate. It worked.

There are many facets to employee retention. It is much more than having appropriate
organisational policies. It involves successfully implementing good policies and creating a
positive work culture and climate. It requires positive action by team leaders and managers.

Personal reflection

Do you like your job?

In line with the Confucius quote, do you love your job?

Do your team members like their jobs?

Do you work in an organisation with a positive culture and climate?

What did you do this week to actually help achieve the best climate and culture possible?

Human Resource Management

Human resource (or personnel) management, in the sense of getting things done through people. It's an
essential part of every manager's responsibilities, but many organizations find it advantageous to
establish a specialist division to provide an expert service dedicated to ensuring that the human resource
function is performed efficiently.
"People are our most valuable asset" is a clich which no member of any senior management team would
disagree with. Yet, the reality for many organizations is that their people remain

under valued

under trained

under utilized

poorly motivated, and consequently

perform well below their true capability

The rate of change facing organizations has never been greater and organizations must absorb and
manage change at a much faster rate than in the past. In order to implement a successful business
strategy to face this challenge, organizations, large or small, must ensure that they have the right people
capable of delivering the strategy.
The market place for talented, skilled people is competitive and expensive. Taking on new staff can be
disruptive to existing employees. Also, it takes time to develop 'cultural awareness', product/ process/
organization knowledge and experience for new staff members.
As organizations vary in size, aims, functions, complexity, construction, the physical nature of their
product, and appeal as employers, so do the contributions of human resource management. But, in most
the ultimate aim of the function is to: "ensure that at all times the business is correctly staffed by the
right number of people with the skills relevant to the business needs", that is, neither overstaffed nor
understaffed in total or in respect of any one discipline or work grade.

Functional overview and strategy for HRM

These issues motivate a well thought out human resource management strategy, with the precision and
detail of say a marketing strategy. Failure in not having a carefully crafted human resources management
strategy, can and probably will lead to failures in the business process itself.
This set of resources are offered to promote thought, stimulate discussion, diagnose the organizational
environment and develop a sound human resource management strategy for your organization. We begin
by looking at the seven distinguishable function human resource management provide to secure the
achievement of the objective defined above.
Following on from this overview we look at defining a human resource strategy.
Finally, some questions are posed in the form of a HRM systems diagnostic checklist for you to consider,
which may prove helpful for you to think about when planning your development programs for the human
resources in your organization, if they are truely "your most valuable asset."

Multi-Tasking Mutes Performance

Contributor: Jeff Davidson
Posted: 10/30/2014 12:00:00 AM EDT | 0

Rate this Article: (4.2 Stars | 12 Votes)

Tags: performance management | multi-tasking

As the Internet, mobile devices, and a myriad of other technological wonders become increasingly integrated
into our lives, it gets harder and harder to concentrate on any single item. Everywhere you look, you are besieged by
competing demands for your time and attention, commanding you to practice multitasking. "Answer the phone." "Click
here." "Push here." "Open me." "Switch me on." "Do it all at once!"
Equally unfortunate, multi-tasking is often promoted to as a way for us to meet the complex demands of our
modern society and accomplish more in the same amount of time. Have you ever attempted to work on a
presentation, while cruising the Internet, or talking on the phone? You don't accomplish much, and time mysteriously
No Useful Pay Off
HR professionals find themselves perpetually attempting to to do many things at once. Yet, attempting to do
many things simultaneously can actually have the opposite effect; it makes your work less efficient and contributes to

stress. No matter what analogies or metaphors you might have heard, a human being is not a computer. Computers
can multitask with ease; the Windows operating system, for example, is capable of running any number of programs
without sacrificing accuracy or peace of mind. While there are some low level tasks in which you can multi-task, such
as eating and watching television, for sales pros multi-tasking is an idea whose time should never have come.
Alas it's all too easy to fall into a familiar trap: "So much is expected of me, I have to double and triple my
activities." Nevertheless, if you attempt to multitask at home or on the job you're likely mess up something in your day
or week. Research shows that multi-tasking seldom enables people to accomplish more, if you take the long-term
view. A study published by the American Psychological Association's Journal of Experimental Psychology, Human
Perception and Performance, found that the effects of multi-tasking can actually be counterproductive.
The primary cost of multi-tasking is, ironically, the very thing that career professionals are desperate to save
time. Multi-tasking is not only ineffective, it's also potentially dangerous. Concentrating on a distant phone call
inevitably detracts from a driver's ability to focus on the road, putting them at dire risk of injury. Several recent studies
have found that cell phone use while driving leads to an increased risk of automobile
Attending to the Task at Hand
So how are you supposed to fit in all of your daily tasks without getting so stressed out or frustrated that you
cannot finish any? The answer is: less is more.
Science has shown that your brain works best when it gives sharp attention in one direction. Therefore, the key
is to focus on the task at hand and be present in the moment. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? If you doubt that this
is sound advice, then you can set up an easy test right in your own office!
Think of three easy tasks, such as drawing twenty stars on a piece of paper, linking twenty paper clips, and
stacking twenty pennies. Then, set up a race with a friend or family member. One person must proceed through the
tasks sequentially, taking each assignment to completion before moving on. The other person has to rotate among
the three tasks, doing three or four stars, two or three paperclips, and then three or four pennies.
All other things being equal, who is going to win every time? The person who doesn't switch tasks frequently will
be the winner. There is no greater efficiency than focusing on the task at hand and giving it your full concentration. As
a friend of mine succinctly sums it up: focus beats brilliance.
One Thing a Time
When an airline flight is canceled and people rush to the reservation desk and scramble to catch the next plane
or some other connection, does the gate agent attempt to take on five or ten people at a time? No. He or she looks at
the computer and handles a particular customer's rerouting, looking up only sparingly. The attendant is not fazed by a
20-person line because it is clearly practical to proceed through it one customer at a time.
Suppose you are continually interrupted by the phone whenever you try to work at your PC. You cannot do your
best work because when the phone rings you lose your concentration and focus. How can you handle that situation
so that both jobs get the best of your attention? The key is a process called mental completion.
When the phone rings while you are working on your computer, silently recognize yourself by thinking, "I
acknowledge myself for coming this far on this project." Then save the work on your screen and turn to the phone.
Give the caller your complete and undivided attention; take notes, even smile into the phone. Do whatever you need
to do in order to be successful on that phone call. Then, at the conclusion of the call, put the phone down,

acknowledge yourself for handling it, and finally turn back to your PC and begin again.
The process of giving yourself a mental completion on all tasks, or even thoughts, sets up a mental partition.
You gain more energy, more focus and more direction for your next task.
Focus and Win
If you can continually hone and refine your powers of concentration you'll do a better job and have more time at
the end of the day. Both your commissions and your peace of mind will improve.