Posted by Chuck Csizmar | Posted in Articles, Universal Compensation | Posted on 30-01-2014
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
This proverb has come down in many variations over the centuries, yet the principle it embodies remains as true today as when first recorded. If you ignore the small stuff long enough it will eventually become the big stuff; big problems, big expenses, big challenges to fix. And big headaches.
Examples are legion; forgetting that simple oil change for your car; not taking the time to brush your teeth or take your daily medicine; delaying the install of free virus protection for your computer; or simply procrastinating as a way of life. The little things can get lost in the midst of our active lives, but we ignore them at our peril.
Lack of action, lack of attention will bite you in the butt, eventually.
For compensation practitioners the “little things” are often not so much the “I can do it later” catch-all busy work we all seem to have too much of, but the fundamental building blocks that anchor the foundation of your rewards philosophy, your programs and ultimately your cost structure. Screw up the details here and the consequences can be serious.
For example, if you ignore your salary structure (“oh, we looked at it a couple of years ago“) you run the risk of it becoming irrelevant. And an irrelevant structure becomes a recipe for inequitable treatment, special deals and increased payroll costs. As does ignoring the blinking danger signals from your dashboard metrics.
And while managing job descriptions is usually relegated to the junior staff, inaccurate or out-of-date documentation can be the bane of your existence, from cost control to employee morale issues to court action.
Little things aren’t always unimportant things
How can a fundamental building block become a “little thing”? It’s all in the attitude. Folks like to focus on the exciting projects, the sexy initiatives and those experiences that can help build and polish their resume. Routine tasks are often given short shrift while we look elsewhere for the interesting, the challenging, the more visible aspects of our jobs. Or the jobs we’d like to do.
Ask yourself, who would want to work on a merger or acquisition project? The hands go up. Who wants to work on an international project? The line of those who are interested quickly forms. But if you would ask, who wants to work on maintaining the existing reward system? That is, worrying about documentation, about record-keeping, about the fundamentals.
Not so much interest there. Boring!
But somebody has to do it. Because if you don’t, the wheels will come off the car, sooner or later. And then senior management will be asking, “who’s responsible“?
Perhaps the answer is to mix it up, to have a bit of the humdrum blended in there with the exciting stuff. So maybe you’re working on job descriptions and job evaluations part of the week, and then an HR Transformation initiative later on. You can be market pricing surveys on Monday and Wednesday, but on Tuesday and Thursday you’re re-designing the management incentive scheme.
Ahhh, but I know what you’re going to say. Who among us has the option of picking and choosing our projects, so that we’d be able to unilaterally design our work schedule, to blend the routine with the exciting? That never worked for me when I was in Corporate America.
But isn’t there something to be said about doing the job, any job, well? Doing so says a great deal about you as a professional, and as a person.
Don’t lose sight of what you might consider the “little things,” the basics and routines that need to be completed “just because” in your work. Think of it like changing your oil.
You and your car will be better for it.