Sunday, March 21, 2010

Peter Cappelli on executive compensation

I did a book review on a Cappelli's "Talent On Demand" that got published last year in an HR journal (thanks, Timmy G. for the opportunity, there!). Ever since starting work on that I've tuned in more to Cappelli's comments and frequent contributions to discourse in the HR world.

Invariably, I find his comments of great interest, even if, in some rare instances I might disagree with him.

One area where my thoughts clearly align with his is the topic of executive compensation (Cappelli comments on executive compensation: HR Executive Online). I've had the opportunity to inspect, with varying degrees of detail, compensation practices in the academic world, in the military, and in corporate environments. Each of them has their interesting points.

I had a discussion with a colleague who has worked quite a bit in the compensation world, and her comments also aligned with some of Cappelli's words. What she noted was that when times get tough, executives she worked with were more than willing to allocate that pain in a fairly self-serving way (observations on a company with which I am unaffiliated).  They shed crocodile tears about having to lay off employees and passing their work on to other employees who were already feeling overworked on one side, while accepting increasing bonuses and base pay raises on the other. When she pointed out to them that they could avoid the layoffs by reducing their payouts- not drastically, not putting wealthy lifestyles at risk, but being willing to defer some of their larger gains to preserve those jobs, it fell on deaf ears.  Her comments remind me of the satire at, perhaps the Achievement poster.