Reflections of a Compensation Pro: Things I’ve Seen That Drive Me a Little Nuts

Article main image
Sep 10, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

I’ve worked in Compensation my entire career. Spent most of it in Corporate America and now, for a bunch of years, as a global consultant.

I love what I do, but at the same time can acknowledge that it’s not all fun and roses.

There are dark times. Not every day ends with a smile.

You see, like most of you out there (OK, probably everybody) I have a pet peeve  — a behavior or attitude that happens at work and irritates me, big time.

Well, to be honest, I have more than one peeve. I have several. I suppose that the longer you work in this field the more you find yourself shaking your head at those “muggles” that you have to deal with.

How about you? Be honest. As a compensation or HR practitioner, what bothers you most about those you’re supposed to be helping? What are you exposed to that just drives you nuts?

Go ahead, you can vent. We’re all friends here. Likely we all have stories to tell.

Pet peeves you may have also experienced

For the sake of space, I’ve kept my irritations down to a small list. How many times have you experienced one or more of these scenarios?

  • How hard can it be? Managers with the attitude that you can just grab any compensation survey, flip to the page that matches the job … and there you are. Anyone can do it.
  • We don’t need a job description. Likely because they didn’t write one, and don’t want to now. “Use the title in your analysis,” is a common refrain, or “doesn’t everyone know what that job does?”
  • Just give them more. Some folks have a simple answer for every problem, except that there isn’t a money tree planted behind the building. But hey, don’t sweat the details.
  • How do I fill out this form? From those who can’t be bothered with performance appraisal forms. They know the answer (score/rating) already, but just need help in back filling this %$#@!& form. We’re all paper pushers in HR.
  • Can’t you just convert the currency? A basic no-no in international compensation, but I still hear it asked, over and over again.
  • Just give everyone 2 percent. With small merit budgets it’s too inconvenient to go through the motions of a performance review cycle. Just push the EASY button and let’s go to lunch. Little thought is given as to how the high performers or even Joe Average will respond — as if all the consequences are good.
  • That’s not what the market is paying. Your data is wrong. They’ll tell you that they know a guy who makes more, or they Googled higher rates on the Internet, or they’ll just cop an attitude of “That just can’t be. Prove me wrong.”
  • I need more money. Whatever is available isn’t enough. The reasons can be as myriad as snowflakes and are not always business-related, but somehow, the “system” just isn’t responsive to their needs. So …  you should fix it.
  • You’re not being flexible. This is my personal favorite, where any answer but the one they want to hear is not the right one, which proves how rigid you are in your thinking.

You just gotta grin and bear it

No amount of training, self-help courses, or even hand holding explanations seem to stem the tide of repeated aggravations from colleagues, clients and even strangers on the street who don’t have a clue. Though they say and act as if they do.

So what do you do with your pet peeves? You grin and bear it, keep pushing that boulder up the hill and fix a polite smile on your face. It’s the price of being a compensation/HR professional.

Thanks for listening.

This was originally published at the Compensation Café blog, where you can find a daily dose of caffeinated conversation on everything compensation.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.