And so we’re trapped. We’ve spawned narratives that make the HR function seem like a cross between Mother Teresa and Stuart Smalley, while the team members—aka employees—we serve actually need more tough love, a cross between Jack Welch and Dennis Miller. They need that little thing called the truth, effectively washed down with a bit of leadership, personality and, at times, humor.
The Third Biggest Lie In HR: We’re into pay for performance. Everyone loves seeing a high performer get a 10 percent raise just for being a star—a reward that’s unrelated to a promotion. It doesn’t happen enough, and the reason is pretty simple: In this Darwinian world we call global business, cost pressure is everywhere. As a result, we’ve got to budget for salary increases and then live by the budget to make sure razor-thin margins stay intact. That means that in order to give Sally, the superstar, an 8 percent increase at review time, we’ve got to give nothing to Johnny and Rickey, who are good cogs in the wheel, but average at best.
The truth: We (business leaders and HR pros) need average performers to make the business formula work. In a world where 90 percent of team members think they’re in the top 10 percent of all performers, we’re screwed from the jump. We’d rather find unbudgeted money for the star than tell the average performers they’re getting nothing, which is what it takes to put pure pay-for-performance in place within a merit budget system. Our managers are unwilling to do that, and we’re unwilling as HR pros (perhaps rightfully so) to be a Han Solo-style mercenary.
Again, read what I outlined. I didn't say we didn't believe in the concept. I said we aren't into it enough to lay down in front of the trains that are cost pressure and our managers not wanting to have the tough conversations to make the math work.
If you’re a good HR pro and don’t feel like you actively pitch the lie above, do you actively preach the truth?
If the answer is no, you’ve got work to do before you’re part of the solution.
See the whole list of HR Lies at Workforce here, or wait - I'm previewing them all week long. Lucky you..