May 2012

. . . helping organizations find solutions to people-related problems


Last Monday, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled against the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) decision that would have shorten the period an employer has to defend against a unionization effort from 42 to 10 days. The judge's ruling was based on the NLRB's not having a quorum of three when it passed the rule. The rule, which favors unions, provides employers a much shorter time period to promote the employer's side of the issues under dispute.

Since this decision was based solely on failure to abide by the NLRB's administrative procedures and not on the rule itself, the applicability of the rule remains in question. Stay tuned for further developments.


Does your company have an understandable, clear approach to employee compensation? Do you have a systematic, rational method for evaluating internal job relationships? Does it answer the "why" questions underlying employee pay and provide supervisors a simply, understandable foundation that promotes consistency and unity across the organization?

Having well thought out policies and procedures that govern how supervisors and employees are treated on matters of pay and performance is a basic building block of any organization's human resource management program. How do employees progress within their current jobs; how do you handle promotions and demotions? How do you deal with pay aberrations in the labor market? How do you insure your pay practices mirror what's happening in the market for specific jobs? All these illustrative questions can be serious distractions without a comprehensive compensation program that provides a systematic, rational approach to pay. Without a thoughtfully crafted compensation program, you can easily end up with a patchwork of independent, inconsistent pay practices that not only provide a potential legal minefield, but also create internal equity and employee relations problems.

Quality compensation programs provide insights into how pay is allocated across the organization related to staffing levels and unit productivity. Such programs provide analytical tools that allow you to focus on profitability and expense control. Without a sound base compensation program, supplement components like variable pay or bonuses are difficult to establish and apply. Compensation programs help leaders and managers understand company financial goals, how organizational dimensions like size, assets, and sales revenue relate to the allocation of salary dollars through pay for performance.

Most importantly, professionally developed compensation programs diminish opportunities for allegations of favoritism and employee confusion by communicating impartial, objective principles and guidelines that govern how people are paid. While no management system is perfect, well developed compensation programs effectively communicated to managers and employees, go a long way in promoting organization health and credibility. While such programs need to be carefully maintained, updated, and administered, they must also be sufficiently flexible to accommodate personnel and job actions that are extraordinary by providing documentable policy exceptions.

If you're seeing signs of uncertainty and dissatisfaction related to your pay practices, talk to us about ways to address these issues and improve the overall health of your organization at the same time. Fair Pay


Students of leadership understand that leadership is an unending learning experience. Leadership experts recognize that effective leaders of organizations, large and small, know that they can always build and strengthen their leadership knowledge and skills and that the only real test of leadership is found in the confidence, trust, and respect of colleagues and followers. One of General Schwarzkopf's principles of leadership holds that some leaders are not loved, but none is not respected. Marshall Goldsmith, author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There, underscores the importance of coachable leaders needing to acknowledge the aspects of leadership they are working on and being open to honest assessment by colleagues and followers as the best measurement of the leader's success in making changes. While some view good leaders as individuals with strong egos, really effective long-term leaders exhibit a delicate balance tempered with humility that engenders follower admiration and respect.

Professional coaches play an important role in helping leaders at all levels improve their performance and effectiveness. Coaching effectiveness is more a function of the coach's knowledge, experience, and expertise than being liked by the leader. Assessment of leadership effectiveness demands clear, direct, and accountable communication not only with the leader him or herself, but also with his or her direct reports and co-workers, the best barometers of whether changed behaviors are real or not. It is obviously critical that assessments are carried out by independent, objective observers skilled in effective interviewing and evaluation.

As Goldsmith points out, there are many and varied approaches to leadership development, each with merits and shortcomings dependent on leader capabilities and commitment, as well as organizational culture and values. Skilled coaching brings an important perspective when it comes to designing leadership development training and activities, especially when the organization wants to build current leadership capacity and future bench strength to meet growing organizational demands. In-depth, earnest conversations with top management are essential in mapping out an effective approach to leadership development programs that impact various levels of the organization. The organization's leadership must commit to meaningful measures of progress and accountability for results as changes occur or fail to occur. When leaders do change and become more effective, the whole organization reaps the benefit in terms of increased unity, morale, productivity, and profitability.

While efforts to build leadership strength often initially cause organizations anxiety and apprehension, the longer-term benefits of such a vital undertaking are profound indeed. Without it, you simply cannot get there from here.Leaders and Teams


Time marches on, and whether by intent or default, things happen. What gets measured gets done. We all know the clichés.

Because even small organizations can be complex and perplexing, leaders need to establish ongoing processes to define priorities and engender commitment from colleagues to see that company goals are set, measured, and satisfied. This, of course, is sometimes viewed as something additional beyond the demands of day-to-day job activities when, in fact, day-to-day activities should be driven by goals and priorities. The key to effective goal-setting and goal-satisfaction is management team effectiveness. Are the people and processes involved really engaged and authentic in terms of achievable accomplishments that relate to the big picture and the company's reinforcement and rewards systems?

Dedicating at least a day or two each year to stepping back from daily operations to take a clean, clear snapshot of where you are and where you want to go is essential to long-term organizational health. Engaging experienced, independent, professional consulting support in such efforts is critical to producing unbiased bold outcomes that keep the organization moving forward. Life in general and organizational life in particular has a way of carrying us along without taking time to critically assess whether we are indeed moving in the right direction and with an awareness of coincidental opportunities along the way.

The annual offsite, strategic planning session, or whatever you might call it does require resources--time, planning, preparation, forethought, angst, and certainly rigorous follow-through. But properly prepared for and executed, such efforts are indispensable in order to carefully review and examine all factors, especially the human and leadership factors, that maintain organizational health and sustainability.

In today's instantaneous world of Internet, email, updates, smart phones, iPads, etc., it is especially easy to lose perspective and get pecked to death by daily details and endless meetings, without any clear sense of why we're doing what we do.

Warm regards

Dave Martin


HRA Services, Inc.

"Applying Systematic Thinking to the Human Dimension"