Over the span of my career I've interacted with any number of Compensation practitioners, but also with a host of wannabes, career transients and dabblers, along with more than my share of HR generalists thinking that "Anyone can do this." But the hardest profile I've had to rub shoulders with is the self-proclaimed expert who thinks that they know all and have seen all.
They have the right answers. Even if they're not a Compensation pro.
You've seen this type of individual before; they're the "answer man" for every challenge that an organization can throw at them. They always seem to know what needs to be done, and how it should be done, and their supreme confidence in themselves allows no reluctance in letting you know how proficient they are. To put an icing on the cake they typically compound their arrogance by insisting that their approach, answer, stratagem is the right way. The only way. And that other suggestions or perspectives are simply . . . wrong.
These people can be technically effective at what they do, but they often think too much of themselves and want to make sure that everyone else knows how effective they are as well. Which irritates, doesn't it? These are the types you see at professional conferences, blog sites and association gatherings, arguing over issues like the Cost of Living vs. the Cost of Labor, lamenting over the death of the performance appraisal process and debating the right steps to solve the latest hot topic compensation issue. They are also convinced that the solutions they used in the past are definitely the right course to take with today's problems.
They're not the personality type I'd like to have a drink with.
But I can forgive all of that (ok, most of that), if only they would show a bit of humility. If only they would get over themselves.
Presenting a personality of arrogant expertise in the face of any and all challenges can sometimes blind you to the particular realities of the situation being faced. To the point where you start to force fit so-called solutions in order to match the problem. These folks forget that when you're dealing with people, not simply with figures, formulae and spreadsheets, what the correct solution is becomes less of a cookie cutter "let's do this again" strategy and more how to handle a unique manifestation of specific challenges grown out of the organization, the culture, the demographics and even the management biases within their business.
So that what worked somewhere else yesterday may not work here, today.
Long term, the problems faced by these self-proclaimed experts are that;
- They alienate lesser mortals (staff and colleagues) with their arrogance, self-righteousness, stubbornness and know-it-all demeanor. Which is not a good recipe for building an effective team effort.
- They tend to lecture senior management on what is the (only) right course of action. Which can be a career limiting move.
- They are not good losers, believing that a decision going against them is a major mistake. They can then become passive resistors.
Take a Lesson
No one likes to be lectured, to always be told that their ideas fall short of the proper way to do things. If that behavior describes how you approach working with others, stop it!
When you were young and first started school your mother likely told you, "Play nice with the other kids," or words to that effect. In other words, don't place yourself apart but become part of the group. In later years, by the time you gained a leadership role that admonition can be converted into "Learn the environment and listen to the employees - only then should you speak."
Show a little humility by listening to others, by planning for unintended consequences and by anticipating "gotcha" questions and the doubt of inevitable naysayers. Try to understand that others, even subordinates can have effective ideas and possible solutions that are worth considering. And that senior management may have a more complete view of an issue than simply the compensation perspective.
But most important - get over yourself.
Chuck Csizmar CCP is founder and Principal of CMC Compensation Group, providing global compensation consulting services to a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. He is also associated with several HR Consulting firms as a contributing consultant. Chuck is a broad based subject matter expert with a specialty in international and expatriate compensation. He lives in Central Florida (near The Mouse) and enjoys growing fruit and managing (?) a clowder of cats.
Creative Commons image,"22017-077 red vs blue, by Robert Couse-Baker