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Compensation Planning Season

Topics: Comp Strategy

'Tis the Season for Compensation Planning

It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not referring to the mad rush to get Christmas presents wrapped and under the tree, although that can certainly add to our stress level. I’m referring to the time of year when HR and compensation professionals are asked to help with budgeting and compensation planning for the upcoming year.

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This effort often requires you to get a lot of compensation data together quickly, make sense of it, and then communicate it to your executives. This can be a daunting task, whether it’s your first or fifteenth time doing it. Here are some things to keep in mind when communicating your results:

Share the big picture but beware of data overload. In many cases, executives want to hear about the forest more than the trees. They tend to be “big picture” people and don’t want to get inundated with a lot of details. However, be aware if you do have an audience that is looking for more detail and come prepared.

Be prepared with explanations of discrepancies. None of us like to get trumped up in front of others and not be able to answer a question about something we’re responsible for presenting. Know your data and anticipate questions that may arise.

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Pick your battles. In most cases, your time with your executive team will be shorter than you ultimately need. Depending on other priorities, you may not have a chance to discuss each and every issue that you’d like to. Decide ahead of time which are the battles that you really want to take on. Those should be the situations that would have a significant impact on the company.

Speak their language. It’s very simple to forget that we have our own language in HR and we often expect everyone else to understand us. Don’t throw out terms like “compa-ratio” and assume they will know what you mean. You can either avoid industry-specific terminology altogether or provide a quick glossary of the basic terms for them.

Make concise recommendations for addressing problems. Don’t put yourself in the situation where you are asked, “Well, what should we do about it?” and aren’t prepared with an answer. Even better, be prepared to explain the risks and rewards to the organization for implementing changes or not.

None of these tips are useful without first knowing the answer to one thing: what is expected of you?

Before you present your findings, you must first understand things like how much time you will have and what the deliverables should look like. There are few things more frustrating than going down the path of completing your project only to discover along the way that what you’re doing is not what they wanted.

Before getting overwhelmed with a seemingly daunting task, get clarity on what success will look like. What do they really want to know? What format is best for that audience? How detailed or how general do they want the data? If you don’t know, ask. Scoping out the project before diving in will always make the process smoother and will usually get the task checked off your to-do list faster and more efficiently. And that will leave you more time to have fun this holiday season!


Eliza Polly

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