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

HR Insights, Talent Management

Are We Ready For the Uber-ification of Work, Performance and Pay?


We want it both ways as employers.

We want workers who keep their skills up-to-date and willingly pursue learning and development. In addition, we also want workers who take accountability for their own performance results, accept placing more of their compensation at risk via incentive pay, and maintain their bearings and contributions in the face of constant change and shifting priorities.

And we also want workers who will put company and work group interests above their own, protect our corporate brand at (nearly) all costs, and happily defer to the preferences of their organizational overlords. Read more…

Benefits, Compensation, HR Management

Is it Really Time to Say Goodbye to the Merit Matrix?

123RF Stock Photo

Bill Kutik hates the merit matrix and I suspect he is not alone.

The merit matrix is not dead — not yet, with recent WorldatWork research confirming that about three-quarters of surveyed member organizations (which tend to be larger, more well-established employers) have a merit matrix in place. But should it be? Will it be?

In his recent HR Technology column at HREOnline, Death to the Merit-Pay-Increase Matrix, Kutik (co-chair emeritus of the annual HR Technology Conference and Exhibition that is going on this week in Las Vegas), shared his issues with the matrix: Read more…

Compensation, Rewards & Recognition

The Problem When Managers Get Too Fond of Discretionary Rewards

© Dawn Hudson -

Ah, management discretion.

Leaders often have a great fondness for discretionary rewards, particularly in bonus and incentive plans.

And why not? Discretionary rewards keep all the power and control with them. Wild card in hand, they are free until the moment the reward decision is made to do whatever feels right, based on their personal judgment call. Read more…

Compensation, Rewards & Recognition

Retention and Reward: Struggling With the Consequences

Illustration by Dreamstime

Employee retention is a double-edged sword.

According to Merriam Webster, in addition to being a sword with two sharp edges, this is defined as something that can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences.

That’s about right. Read more…

Benefits, Compensation, HR News & Trends

Use of Sign-On and Retention Bonuses at an All-Time High

123RF Stock Photo

The use of sign-on and retention bonuses appears to be at an all-time high, according to a recently released WorldatWork survey on bonus programs and practices.

The research, which highlights the practices of 713 organizational participants, is the fifth iteration of a series that dates back to 2001.

Among other things (like the volatility of today’s labor market), these findings tell us that an increasing proportion of the reward dollars needed to attract and retain talent are being channeled into things other than fixed base salaries. Read more…

Benefits, Compensation

How Will We Pay With Open Salaries and No Performance Reviews?

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There are a number of movements afoot in the world of work that promise to impact the way we pay people. Two in particular may well converge to provide the final straw that breaks the back of merit pay.

Let’s begin with Exhibit 1: The “Open Salaries” Movement.

Pay transparency is coming. While it is unlikely that we will reach a point where every organization opens up all compensation information for every employee, I believe that the momentum and spirit behind the pay transparency movement will lead many employers to eventually embrace it, drawing back the curtain to reveal the details of their pay programs and practices. Read more…

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

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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

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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?

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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…