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I think there's an opposite phenomenon in some companies/cultures. It's grade deflation whereby everyone is a grade or two lower than the marketplace recommends because of intentional choices by the company. Sometimes the compensation team isn't robust enough or strong enough to voice their concerns, and sometimes leaders are undereducated and/or assume more knowledge about a compensation system than they really have; however, I've often found that companies will make a conscious decision to grade positions lower than the market sustains. It's weird.

I couldn't agree more. One of my pet peaves as a consultant who has helped companies restructure their jobs, is the attitude that 'all of my guys are superior'. Why is it that some people just can't understand that job grades are not the same as exam grades, and it's perfectly ok to be a grade F - if that is what you do deserves!

Your post highlights one of the challenges that we always face when formalizing the job processes in such projects. And you tackled it the same way I would.

- Don't make the hurdle so high that people can't ever satisfy it (they'll just find other subtle ways to circumvent)
- You're not a cop, you're a business partner (how can you help the manager achieve what she sees as her business goals)
- look for ways where your process can enable your business, not evade that business (unfortunately, HR is sometimes the bad guy, and clings relentlessly to draconian policies and procedures in a misguided attempt to hold onto some vestige of 'power')


Another great posting, Ann! I will be using these questions with my clients.

The Grade Creep. Now that's funny.


Thanks for the thoughts and sharing some of your experience on the grade creep/deflate phenomenon. Some of the situations that you describe are what I think of as "passive aggressive" grade deflation - when leadership won't take a clear and conscious stand about how they intend to pay people, one way or another, against the market.


Thanks for the comments. It sounds like you and I have faced some similar situations. It is a challenge that forces us to walk that o-so-fine line between partner and cop - not an easy fence to straddle as most of use well know.


Thanks! :-)


Thanks for sharing the humor. ;-)

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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