To be successful in any job or sport, there is always a key partnership that is critical and most important. In baseball, it’s the pitcher and catcher. In American football, it is the quarterback and center. In Compensation, the relationship and partnership with Finance is essential. In all three examples, each individual and organization has to be in sync with the other to avoid fumbles, passed balls, and missed opportunities.
For over 30 years I have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic Finance partners. When thinking about what made the partnerships great, four (4) common themes were always there.
There Was Trust
In every situation, we knew we each had the best of intentions and that we would have “each other’s back”. We would make sure no one was surprised and that we were both prepared and showed-up well to meetings especially with senior leadership.
Tough Conversations Were Held Behind Closed Doors
As in any partnership, both parties want the best outcome. To do this, it is essential to have tough conversations in a way that is safe. Only by having those open and honest conversations can you understand each other’s perspective and get to the best answer. As in any good personal relationship, it’s best to have those conversations behind closed doors so both parties feel safe and secure.
We Agreed to Disagree
We always desired to be aligned in the recommendation; however, that didn’t always happen. In those times, we agreed to disagree. We believed everyone had valid points and the best answer was a matter of perspective or desired outcome. Fortunately, this did not happen often but when it did, we took all of the information to senior management and presented both sides equally sharing our perspectives. This approach allowed each of us to be heard and management to make an informed decision.
We Validated the Math & Models
A good portion of what a compensation professional does involves math and models. And, when designing programs for large groups of employees, the numbers start getting pretty big and can impact the bottom-line. Don’t keep your models secret and instead share your models with Finance and have them validate your methodology, assumptions, and results. When meeting with the CFO, CEO or the Compensation Committee, it is great to have everyone giving a thumbs up on the analysis and results.
To win a baseball or football game takes time and practice. Building a great partnership also takes time and you have to be intentional about it. Reach out and get to the know your partner personally as well as professionally. Not only will the partnership be great and help both of you be successful, you might just find that you made a really good friend as well.
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David Adent is a Managing Partner with Alliance Compensation LLC, a team of seasoned experts and trusted solution for clients across the Western US in public and private companies. He has over 30 years of experience in corporate and executive compensation roles, and lives with his wife in Spokane, WA.