Value End-of-Year Implementation — Avoid the Parent Trap

We all know the parent mantra:

  • I understand this situation far better than you do
  • Do what I am telling you, you’ll find out it’s the best way
  • I don’t want to hear about it (shorthand for, “You’ll realize I’m right once you’ve done it”)

Parents resort to these tactics when time is short and everyday tasks are at hand. However, so much of HR-speak comes off that way,too. And then we wonder why HR communications are unpopular — a reaction that is especially unnecessary and undermining when it comes to compensation communications. You’d think that we’d get the benefit of the doubt, since the topics that we are talking about are money and rewards, but it’s not the case.

Most of us will have more positive messages to send this year than we have had for years, so why put on the parental tone? Here are some suggestions to break the habit.

Brainstorm a new topic — what’s on employees’ minds — instead of assuming that you already know everything you need to know. Imagine how much you could learn and how much these insights could help everyone prepare for end-of-year HR activities if you held a meeting, invited the right people (including a line advisor, maybe), and free-formed the teams’ ideas on today’s employees’ and managers’ thoughts, perceptions, attitudes and challenges. Then break what you find into subgroups — this Division vs. that; this product area vs. that; new managers vs. experienced managers; and so on. It’s easy to see how much richer your communication and implementation plans would be as a result of this conversation. Of course, free forming isn’t often a compensation professional’s strength, so mix up the group with those who can help you get going.

Recognize that your compensation and performance management software annoys a small or large subset of your employees and managers. It’s just a given. Stop acting as if the programmed instructions are enough, thank you very much, that’s what we paid the provider for. Admit what the tough spots are and add information in your reminder emails that can help people find their way around them. If you don’t know what they are, ask a few managers.

Push your communications one or two notches up higher on the transparency continuum. Again with the meetings! But in 2017 this really can’t be overlooked. The HR team should create this challenge for themselves, develop a contract among themselves to make real progress and determine a measure or two to hold themselves accountable.

What is the hardest thing that you’re asking managers to do this year? Even if it hasn’t changed from last year, plan how you can support them better, so they will be more successful and/or less stressed this year.

Has anyone ever used a hotline during performance review or compensation discussion time frames? I know it sounds dicey, but in the right circumstances and by promoting it as a coaching option, it could be considered as a way of diminishing the “I don’t want to hear about it” tone to HR’s performance management and compensation end-of-year activities.

You know you’re good, but are you a great communicator? This is Episode 4 in a series on improving employee loyalty through better, uncomplicated end-of-year compensation and performance management communications
Episode 1 = Expect More (From Yourself) This Year
Episode 2 = Value End-of-Year Implementation–How to Make It Important, Worthwhile and Useful
to help you get started
Episode 3 =Tips for Improving Manager Meetings to give you new strategies
Episode 4 =The Tip That Will Change People’s Minds

Margaret O’Hanlon, CCP brings deep expertise to discussions on employee pay, performance management, career development and communications at the Café. Her firm, re:Think Consulting, provides market pay information and designs base salary structures, incentive plans, career paths and their implementation plans. Earlier, she was a Principal at Willis Towers Watson. Margaret is a Board member of the Bay Area Compensation Association (BACA). She coauthored the popular eBook, Everything You Do (in Compensation) Is Communications, a toolkit that all practitioners can find at

This post originally appeared on Compensation Cafe
Author: Margaret O’Hanlon