Pay Your Rank And File Fairly.

Dec. 21, 2004

How often have you used redundancies such as beck and call, assault and battery, safe and sound, and first and foremost to emphasize a point? I have been accused of being the apostle of the repetitive. I've hemmed and hawed my way through the rack and ruin of countless redundant redundancies in my efforts to get attention for my point of view. But for all intents and purposes, this rhetorical trick has neither intent nor purpose. I have often promised myself to cease and desist and to declare these expressions null and void for here and now. So before I become the defrocked apostle of redundancies, let me sin once more by making a point that cries out for repetition: Nothing is more disappointing or humiliating to your rank and file than to labor long and hard, above and beyond the call of duty, to accomplish company goals and objectives for which they expect praise and pay, and then fail to get them. In my jewel box of management ideas is an article I clipped and saved from the Dec. 6, 1982, issue of The Wall Street Journal. It was written by Jack Falvey. The headline read "To raise productivity, try saying thank you." I'd like to quote a few nuggets from Falvey's gold mine. "People work for love or money. Few of us ever seem to get enough of either. There are no great behavioral-science secrets to good management. If you will give top priority to supporting and paying your people, you will be blessed with results beyond your dreams. "Managers think of themselves as systems specialists or problem solvers or functional experts. They lose sight of the common-sense practicality of getting others to do things for them willingly. The essence of good management is letting people know what you expect, inspecting what is done, and supporting those things that are done well. The experts acknowledge that we don't know the design limitations of a human being. All we know is that even the most committed people seldom exceed 15% or 20% of their brain capacity in a normal day's work. Average people can double or triple their output with increased confidence, more encouragement, better organization, a deeper commitment, and a surprisingly small amount of effort. Additionally, if managers would begin thinking in terms of doing things for their people -- instead of to them -- we would see productivity increases off the scales. . . . Go do something nice for someone or say something nice to someone right now." To this sage advice I would add this personal observation: Pay attention. Pay for performance. Pay with compliments as well as cash. And don't pay yourself too much. Too many organizations have reward systems that fail to focus on effort, goals, and results. The annual pay adjustment too often is made on the company's overall ability to pay rather than on the employee's personal performance. Across-the-board pay raises are totally ineffective and usually unfair. Only tailored incentive programs fully focus on an employee's personal performance. No one system of incentive works forever. Therefore, you need a variety of tailored systems to motivate and guide performance if you expect to achieve defined goals and objectives. Assisting people to believe in the importance and the essential nature of their work, whether it's a team effort or an individual one, requires leadership. It requires far more than the application of carrots and sticks. If you expect to get the best out of your people, pay them what they're worth, or even a little more. Give them credit for what they do, but be sure to throw in some cash, too. Talent eventually goes where it is appreciated. The biggest error most managers make is forgetting to say "Thank you." The second biggest error they make is paying themselves too much and the rank and file too little. Sal F. Marino is chairman emeritus of Penton Media Inc. and an IW contributing editor. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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