It’s easy, Sandrine !

Don’t you hate the managers who think they know more about Compensation & Benefits than you do ? They mean well, but this drives me crazy.  “I had the exact same situation at my previous company”, they say to me, and proceed to explain “So let me tell you what to do : you need to do A, then B and then C – it’s easy, Sandrine !”

The truth is, in over 18 years of career focused on C&B, I have never been able to replicate, as is, the solution or system applied at one company into another organisation.

So what do you do when you’re facing one of those “It’s easy, Sandrine !” situations ?

You thank them, acknowledge their input and try to extract something out of it, if relevant for your present issue. To evaluate whether you can find some useful nuggets of replicable/adaptable content, the procedure is actually quite simple : you keep asking questions to the manager to assess the context of the then situation and compare it to your current situation.

This enables you to kill two birds with one stone, because in the same discovery process, you can also educate the manager about the differences between your organisations, and why a cut and paste approach may not be what’s best for your company. So you’re establishing your thought leadership and credibility while at the same time gaining potentially useful ideas to solve your problem.

What kind of differences can influence the design of your solution ?

Obviously, the industry, size and location of our companies have a major impact, as well as its strategic vision.

But, for Compensation & Benefits, other factors also come into account. For example, there is a risk of retention issues in your company and you may be asked to implement a long-term incentive for your senior management. “It’s easy, Sandrine ! Simply do the same as my previous organisation and design an equity scheme with a 4-year wait period and 3 years subsequent vesting contingent to performance ! It worked in keeping the Directors there !”

Well, what if the people leaving your organisation are junior UAE Nationals and middle level expat managers, all with 2 to 3 years of tenure ? Would that kind of approach solve your problem ? Which levels are the ones where you have difficulties recruiting, are females asking for more work-life friendly policies, how long do employees stay on average and does nationality make any difference ?

The key is for you to take what’s useful from other companies’ plans and adapt it using your common sense. Your demographics, your specific challenges, your company culture, and the actual behaviour of employees in your organisation should be the main drivers of how you design your compensation solutions.

Remember to ask the right questions in order to go over the ready-made solutions that the drive-you-nuts, well-meaning managers will propose to you, and you will propose the best resolution for the specific challenge your organisation is facing today.

Are there any tricks that you use when the “It’s easy, Sandrine !” syndrome appears in your organisation ? Please share them in the comments section !

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