Re: Incentives LO1080

Tom Burke (
Fri, 5 May 95 20:47 PDT

Replying to LO1072 --

This incentive thing is not merely esoteric to me. It is also wound up in
deep needs, so I really appreciate the insights. I am willing to be
convinced. I still find no fundamental reason for failing to pay people
differently. When we pay people differently, some sort of 'system' is
attached to that, we create a structure, we create tiers, we do
acknowledge those who contribute as *better* than those who don't
contribute. Every end-of-month I am expected to write some checks to pay
our folks. Those checks are vested with *rights*. Now, I seek to change
it. The current *system* is flawed beyond belief. We have no pay
structure, just managers' opinions on what they think someone should get
paid. So now we have two people doing the same tasks, one really invests
in their career, the other can't find anything good about anything - the
whinner. The whinner gets paid more than the one who is really trying.
Think for the moment on the problem from the former's point of view. I am
not a bleading heart liberal. I just happen to believe that we should
honor and respect people for who they are. I respect the fact that one
individual believes in what we are trying to do that she will work harder
and not be rewarded on some rational basis. It doesn't seem fair to pay
them in accordance with their experience. Both are experienced people.
If we don't pay on some incentive, then pray tell, what basis should we?
One person suggests that we pay based on averages posted on the bulletin
board. I don't dispute the effectiveness for a particular company and
that surely is creative. I do not believe that many companies could do
this. I suggest this may even have some legal difficulties. I must deal
with those legal guys, not just from some potential disgruntled employee
but from their heirs as well. In California, to deal openly with our
people with their pay open to bulletin board voting would likely get me
one healthy fine.

Again, what is it that demeans people to find a way to better themselves
by doing more of what I want. I ask for employees and hire them to do
what I want. I do not accept it as my responsibility to pay for anyone
who is not working for my company. I see homeless people everyday along
the freeways. Going to lunch today, I was approached for a free handout.
While we accept our position as citizens and contribute to our community
in some ways, we don't pay people who don't work for our company. We
don't pay people who just think about us, or who pass by us, or who want
to work for us but for whom their is no job. We only pay for those who
work for us. The constant variable is the role of employee. They are not
owners, they are not lenders, they are our employees. It isn't that we
own them nor that we can abuse them. It is just that we have a very
special relationship; employer and employee. I have some responsibilities
to those people. I must do my due diligence to ensure the house is in
order, that our financial statements are properly in balance to provide
for us today and for tomorrow. I have to ensure we have adequate
resources so that our employees can do their job. They don't have to
borrow the money and risk their homes. If there is not enought cash to
fund the employer contribution of their 401k plan, they won't have to
spend jail time. There is the expectation that I will ensure correct
watch to take care of the business - including them. I believe one of my
tasks is to put into place the compensation system which provides the best
value. I can't use our scarce resources to continue paying those who
won't grow. I don't want to pay both people the same. The best value
seems to me to allow people to seek their best values. If I can provide a
pay structure which allows one to get paid based on their contribution,
why is that a bad thing?

I am reminded that there were reported to be three servants given money in
trust. One of these trustees put the money in the ground, afraid to risk
the principle. One of those trustees invested and returned a 20% return.
One of those trustees invested and returned a 100% return. The highest
reward went to the one providing the greatest return. The one who just
maintained was fired. IMHO, this seems fair.

Monday, I have to implement a new system. I did a 2 year study of the
tasks done by every employee. I found those factors which have strong
correlations to the output I want done. I want tell people, do more of
what I want done and you can go home with more. It is your choice. I
intend to make to limits, both people will have the same opportunities. I
will provide to each all the training and education they want to enhance
their capacities, either personal or professional. Those that chose to
invest in their careers will become better and doing the things I want
done. Where is the disincentive? I could accept this as inappropriate if
there were arbitrary factors on which to base the pay. I could accept
this as inappropriate if there were unequal opportunities. But if there
is the encouragement, both tangible and intangible, to grow, to expand
capacities, to contribute more, is seems to me we have returned the fresh
air. Again, where is the wrong, where is the disincentive? The evidence
can not be found in the sayings of anyone, including the good Dr. The
evidence of good, bad, or indifference, must be from the data. If it is
so dibilitating, pray tell where is that data?

I thank you for listening and appreciate the response, even those who want
to find their way out of the crisis without questioning the good Dr.
There is only one book I accept on faith, all others send data.

Tom Burke
Ramona, California