With that said, this morning I came across a great Sackett piece wherein he talks about how difficult it is for high performing individual contributors to make the leap to high performing people managers. The reasons for this are multi-faceted, but one of the prevailing ones is that superstar talents often hold their directs to the same standards they hold themselves. And as a practical matter, not everyone is going to hit the highest levels of performance that rockstar individual contributors turned bosses expect of them. Sackett explains this better than I am in his post, so check it out. And while you’re at it, consider this bit. From the piece:
We take our best and brightest and we ‘reward’ them with management positions. We believe this is what they really want. In reality most don’t actually want this. They really love what they are doing, shown by the tremendous performance they are giving you.
A few organizations are beginning to just stop this. They leave their great individual performers in position and just pay them like they would pay a leader. They give them a leader title. But what they don’t do, is give them people to manage!
Your best, most talented person is worth more than your average leader.
…This is a really powerful concept. When organizations compensate people, they often focus on matters of scope because of the comparatively larger impact one can make on a business as they touch larger segments of it. As a practical matter, however, individual contributors performing at a high level can often add more value to a business than the people managing them. And while I once limited this caveat to technical arenas, I am beginning to think that it is true in all functions.
If so, I think that what would best serve many companies is to really focus on how individuals add value – and compensate accordingly – as opposed to compensating based on the theoretical value of a job. The challenge with this approach is two-fold, though:
1. Compensation/HR teams can’t do this. It has to be driven by the managers supporting their people as they are the ones best able to contextualize the value their people add.
2. This requires organizations to be much more rigorous about how they’re quantifying value in all functions. And in many cases this is much easier said than done.
As always, this is just an early morning thought stream. Feel free to poke holes in it via the comments section below.