Ann Bares

Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. She has over 20 years of experience consulting in compensation and performance management and has worked with a variety of organizations in auditing, designing and implementing executive compensation plans, base salary structures, variable and incentive compensation programs, sales compensation programs, and performance management systems. Her clients have included public and privately held businesses, both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, early stage entrepreneurial organizations and larger established companies. Ann also teaches at the University of Minnesota and Concordia University. Contact her at

Articles by Ann Bares

Talent Management

Team Chemistry: It’s the New Focus of Performance Management

Ducks team 2 hockey

Is “making teams better” the new holy grail of performance analytics?

Fresh from the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, HBR blogger and MIT Research Fellow Michael Schrage notes that one of the top themes of the event was how to move beyond the Moneyball-like era of predicting and assessing individual performance and focusing on teamness.

More quantitative attention is being paid to how well players improve the in-game performances of their teammates. Are their particular game situations where their positive — or negative — influence is statistically pronounced?

Can that impact be meaningfully correlated with psychological attributes or other behavioral characteristics? Indeed, how can the coaches improve the TQ — Teamness Quotient — of their players’ performances? Read more…

Compensation, HR News & Trends

Secret Wage Agreements Cast a Dark Shadow Over Silicon Valley

Photo by

After years of stories about the incredible worker perks, the “don’t be evil” corporate mottos, and the higher brand of capitalism practiced by some of Silicon Valley’s most celebrated companies, a darker side has emerged.

Roughly 60,000 Silicon Valley workers have gained clearance to pursue a class action lawsuit accusing Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel of conspiring to hold down wages through secret agreements not to poach one another’s staff  in violation of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts.

Mark Ames at Pando, in his article Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEO’s conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages, provides a detailed timeline and description of the events and players involved in the secret arrangements, even showcasing some of the emails involved. Read more…

Benefits, Compensation

What Incentive Compensation Can (and Can’t) Do For Your Workforce

Photo illustration by

Incentive compensation. Powerful stuff when used well and — unfortunately — potentially even more powerful when misused and misdirected.

How do you know when an incentive plan is a good idea and when it is not?

For starters, it is important to have a sense of the circumstances you are fixing to drop them into and the objectives you (or the prospective plan “sponsor”) hope to achieve by putting them in place. If you don’t, start there.

Next, you’ll need to face up to the reality that there are problems which incentives cannot fix (and may even make worse). What follows is my own list of what incentives can and cannot do. Read more…

Classic TLNT

A Bonus For This, a Bonus For That — How About a Bonus to Quit?

© mybaitshop -

Editor’s Note: Sometimes readers ask about past TLNT articles. That’s why we republish a Classic TLNT post every Friday that some of you have requested. 

Ever think about offering a bonus for employees to quit your organization?

Zappos has – and it’s an interesting case study, particularly as the bonus opportunity is part of its unique onboarding process.Zappos is known for its unique culture and, not surprisingly, it screens job applicants carefully for cultural fit.

Those that don’t pass the cultural fit screening aren’t hired, no matter what skills and capabilities they bring to the table. Those that do progress to the company’s training program. Read more…

Benefits, Compensation

Heading Down the Slippery Slope With “Bridge” or Temporary Incentive Plans


When and where do we create temporary incentive plans, meant to bridge a short-term gap in our reward offerings?

Let me lay out one particular (but not entirely uncommon) scenario.

Many organizations offer the opportunity for an annual cash profit sharing award to their employees, a way to share with them the financial success they help create for the business. Plans like this are popular in public and private companies alike.

In many cases, these plans come to occupy a revered place in the company’s culture and become a key feature in its employment brand, reinforcing the sense of an organization where everyone is rewarded for a winning year.

Until they don’t. Read more…

Classic TLNT

Is This The Worst Thing You Can Ever Do to an Employee?


Editor’s Note: Sometimes readers ask about past TLNT articles. That’s why on Fridays we republish a Classic TLNT post that some of you have requested.

What is the worst thing you can do to an employee?

According to management consultants Doug and Polly White, authors of the article The Worst Thing You Can Do to an Employee, once you put aside things that are clearly “illegal, unethical, immoral or unsafe,” the worst thing you can to an employee is to pay her or him significantly more than a free-market wage.

Anticipating skepticism and even hosts of volunteers willing to be thus put upon, the authors press on to share their experience with the sometimes devastating effects that can follow circumstances allowing a worker to be paid significantly (and they’re talking 50 percent to 100 percent plus) more than her or his capabilities command in the labor market. Read more…

Benefits, Talent Management

Bonuses Are Nice, But Do You Really Know What Drives Your Top Talent?

123RF Stock Photo

Retention has become a big deal and a top concern for many organizations.

This is acutely true around high performers and employees with very in-demand skills.

And, as with many people issues, one of our first responses is to put more money on the table. Just look at the steady growth (beyond the brief recessionary dip) in the use of retention bonuses over the past 10 years (courtesy of WorldatWork‘s annual salary budget survey): Read more…

Benefits, Compensation

Yes, You Do Get WHO You Pay For

© Yanik Chauvin -

A lot of the debate surrounding pay for performance focuses on the degree to which differentating pay by an individual’s performance serves as an incentive, encouraging the employee to focus energy and attention on achieving the things necessary for the organization’s success.

In other words, do we get what we pay for?

What we overlook, however, is the more macro impact that performance pay can have on the overall composition of an employer’s workforce. Read more…

Benefits, Compensation

Is There Real Value in Paying For Employee Performance?

123RF Stock Photo

Is pay for performance — specifically that which we think of as “merit pay” — worth the hassle?

I recently ran across a research paper (Michael C. Sturman, Evaluating the Utility of Performance-Based Pay) that takes an interesting run at answering that question. (Hat tip to AonHewitt, who featured outtakes from the research in a recent presentation.)

One of the things I particularly appreciated in this research was the authors’ deliberate effort to examine the question by looking through the lens of economic value. Read more…

Benefits, Compensation, HR News & Trends

Another Salary Survey Shows 2014 Raises Are Stuck in the 3% Range

Surveys show that salary increases will be in the 3 percent range for 2011. (Photo by Dreamstime)

Closely following WorldatWork’s publication of top-line results from its salary increase budget survey, Mercer released findings this week from its own recent survey on compensation trends (featuring responses from nearly 1,500 mid-size and large U.S. employers).

The Mercer study shows that the average raise in base pay for 2014 in the U.S. is projected to be 2.9 percent. This is slightly below WorldatWork’s projected 3.1 percent; but both surveys’ findings show a tiny uptick from 2013.

Minor variations aside, just further confirmation that salary increases for most employees aren’t leaving that 3 percent plateau any time soon. Read more…