« You Can Create Jobs | Main | The Seven Step Compensation Diet: Step # 3 - Guidelines »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Until human beings are totally replaced by robots and computers, a vital place will remain for managerial discretion.

Without conceding any valid point about the best practices re precision of pre-announced attainable/stretch clear line of sight output result expectations for defensible objectives with mutually-agreeable observation standards and proper feedback systems, adequate resource support, lack of task interference, etc. (wrote a whole BOOK on performance management, fer gawd's sake)... you still need the irreplaceable element of human judgment somewhere in the loop.

People are not machines. Work is not a closed system immune from unanticipated influences or conducive to clear totally controllable predictions. Remember the Harvard Law of Behavior composed by B.F. Skinner's grad students: "Under carefully controlled labratory conditions where all outside influences are monitored and carefully controlled, the experimental subject will do as it damn well pleases."

That said, I agree that there will be more pressure for board accountability, but the current witch-hunt to expunge all risk will inevitably create some iatrogenic rebounds. The only guarantees in life are not necessarily happy ones.


While I agree that the increase in variable pay as a proportion of overall salary requires that there is more accountability and need for objectivity, I also feel that a portion of the variable pay will still be reserved for management discretion. There are a number of times when objective measures are insufficient to tell the whole story about an employees productivity. These are the instances when having a manager discretionary fund can be vital. Of course I would not expect the entire variable pay budget pool be this way, but I think it does have its place.

Jim and Kurt:

Very valid points. I don't really mean to suggest that discretion will and must entirely go away - but I think that plans whose awards are entirely or mostly discretionary will become more problematic as pay mixes shift. My point is that we need to be careful that we are introducing or retaining discretion for the right reasons, and not because we are unwilling to make a commitment or be transparent around details and mechanics.

Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

The comments to this entry are closed.