Posts Tagged ‘compensation’

Secret Salaries

Joel Spolsky is the CEO of Fog Creek Software. In this Inc. magazine article, “Why I Never Let Employees Negotiate a Raise”, Joel spews hearsay on the topic of salaries:

The trouble with keeping salaries a secret is that it’s usually used as a way to avoid paying people fairly. And that’s not good for employees — or the company. – Joel Spolsky

I wanted Fog Creek to have a salary scale that was as objective as possible. A manager would have absolutely no leeway when it came to setting a salary. And there would be only one salary per level. – Joel Spolsky

In this blog post, Joel lays out the details of his compensation system:  “Fog Creek Professional Ladder“.

Your career level at Fog Creek is determined as a function of three things: experience (number of years), the scope of your job (what your current job entails), and your skills (your skill level, regardless of actual responsibility). – Joel Spolsky

In the post, Joel further defines what experience, scope (there are 7 levels), and skills (there are 7 levels) mean. Of course, the criteria are not 100% objective, but at least Mr. Spolsky valiantly tries to remove as much subjectivity and insert as much objective fairness as he can.

How about your org? Is its compensation system still based on the 1920’s FOSTMA, employee-in-a-box, carrot-and-stick mindset? You know, the one where your salary is totally based on how much your anointed “supervisor” likes you?

Responsibilities And Compensation

October 14, 2010 2 comments

If you’re in the blue box, better shoot for the yellow box ASAP and start accumulating titles (to post on before your compensation curve flattens. Since there are fewer multividual contributors in an org pyramid, by auto-assumption they must be more valuable and deserving, right? Of course, the graphic below is an extreme exaggeration, but how far off the mark do you really think it is?

Where You Stand

In “Making It Big In Software“, author Sam Lightstone quotes former GE CEO Jack Welch:

You want to make sure everyone knows where they stand in the organization. It’s a leader’s obligation. In most companies, the leaders stand back, and people don’t know where they stand. – Jack Welch

Do your performance appraisal and compensation systems allow you to clearly determine where you stand? If not, do you know what’s missing (hint: a clear and unconfusing connection between the two)? If you do know what’s missing, have you raised your concern to management? If you haven’t raised your concern to management, why not (hint: fear)?

Executive Misnomer

I don’t know why the dudes at the top of the corpo food chain are called “executives”. They don’t execute anything except non-conformers. They coerce and patronize others into bidding their will – which is to make themselves rich regardless of the performance of their orgs.

  • CEO = Chief Evisceration Officer
  • COO = Chief Oppression Officer.
  • CTO = Chief Torture Officer

Sycophant compensation committees reinforce the ubiquitous make-me-rich executive process by striving to pay execs as much as they can (to retain top “talent”) while striving to pay the DICforce as little as possible (to keep fixed costs down).

How Do You Like It?

Stunningly, I was once (and only once) asked by a manager how I liked my raise. It was stunning because I speculate that cosmic events like this rarely happen. Has it ever happened to you?

I told the manager that I was happy to get a raise at all. I also told him that since it was the same amount as the average company given raise, I perceived that he thought of me as an average employee. He, and no other manager has ever asked me for “raise feedback” again.

Of course, fairness and unfairness are in the eye of the beholder, or, in physicist-speak, the “observer”.

Man, I Love This Guy

November 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m not gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I love Scott Berkun. I’ve spoken about him before, and it’s time to speak about him again. Scott’s got a new book out titled “Confessions Of A Public Speaker“. Like all of his other work, it’s a funny and insightful page turner.

It’s incredibly hard to be original, but everyone has the innate capability to be authentic. Scott is authentic. Check out this quote from the new book:

“In the interest of transparency and satisfying your curiosity, I average 25–30 lectures a year. Sometimes I’m paid as much as $8,000, depending on the situation. Maybe one-third are paid only in travel expenses or small fees, since they’re selfpromotional or for causes I’d like to help. Roughly 40% of my income is from book royalties and the rest from speaking and workshop fees. So far, I average around $100,000 a year, less than I made at Microsoft. However, I work fewer hours, am free from the 9 to 5 life, and have complete independence, which is worth infinitely more. I limit travel to once or twice a month, which means I turn away many gigs; I’d prefer to have more time than money, since you can never earn more time.”

Do you think many people have the cajones to expose that amount of detail about how much money they make? I don’t. Maybe I don’t because I feel guilty that I’m an overpaid and underperforming slacker. Scott follows up that trench coat opener with:

“I also think it would be good if salaries were made public, which is why I offered my fees and income. If more people did this, the overpaid and underpaid would be visible and more likely to be corrected. Or, total anarchy would ensue and civilization would end. Either way, it would be fun to watch.”

LOL! I love that idea and I would sign up to it any day. Then I, and everyone else, especially the corpocrats that run the show, would have a reference point of relativity for determining whether or not they’re overpaid.

There’s at least one company that I know of that operates this way – Semco. I know this because CEO Ricardo Semler said so in his book “Maverick“. How about you and your company? Would you try it out? Why not? If the result turned out to be FUBAR, you could always revert back to the same-old same-old and do what everybody else in the moo-herd does.

Public Salaries

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions. – Albert Einstein

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