I do not normally get involved in the allocation of restricted shares. All I normally do is review the percentages offered against market data. Long-term incentives are naturally quite stable, so I only need look at them every couple of years. I have been dragged in this year because we have agreed a different way of divvying up the share award budgets.
It was not my idea. It is very annoying as we have only just got everyone used to doing it the old way, based on performance. Changing the allocation requires updates to the system and testing, as well as revised manager communication, all of which I could do without. Sometimes, I think we change things just for the sake of it; it does not let anyone feel too comfortable for very long.
Removing performance ratings
Sign up to our newsletters
Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox
I guess there is one rational reason: that we have done away with performance ratings altogether, so managers have been unable to point to the annual review as justification for their decisions. Doing away with performance ratings is a current trend, but they will be back. Ostensibly, the decision was made so that employees did not feel they are treated like a number, but of course they are when it comes to the bonus as we have a ‘incentive modifier’ based on performance anyway. I am tired of trying to explain that a modifier is any different from a rating; it is not.
Maybe the Higher Beings are tired of trying to justify their decision on long-term incentives too. So, in his wisdom, Big Bad Boss has agreed we will give out fixed amounts to the Higher Beings. Yes, you heard it right: a fixed amount of share awards every year, regardless of whether they achieved anything or if they spent the entire year on the golf course. For lower grades, senior managers can allocate shares to a select few based on their likely succession or promotion prospects.
It is a communication nightmare. The Higher Beings cannot be trusted to share a box of biscuits rationally, so this new plan will certainly result in the usual bias and favouritism just as when we had a performance modifier to pin it on. Big Bad Boss has the bright idea of making me meet with each of the leaders to help them do their long-term incentives planning. He is right, of course, but I do not want to meet with them. Dealing directly with one of the Higher Beings is like sitting down a toddler who has not had their nap.
I begin with Victor, the VP of IT. Might as well get it over with. He wants to give his whole team an allocation of shares. I explain, for the third time, that for lower grades, the allocation is only for up to 15% of the team. So, Victor wants to give everyone 15% each. No, that is not how it works, I explain. The allocation is only for high potentials, those identified through the succession planning process as high talent or likely succession to his role. Victor complains and says all team are high potential, but workforce planning would not let him identify them as such. He also did not have a properly identified successor, because none of them will ever be able do his job, so he just chose two people at random to get the nasty workforce planning people off his back. Well, I can sympathise with his thoughts on my enemies in workforce planning, but the rules are the rules. Victor wants to change his choice of successors now. I am going to have to see if that can be done and I do not relish talking to my nemesis in that other team in about it.
Luckily, it seems it is still possible to change his successors and I go ahead and get it changed for him. Forewarned, the first question I ask in my next meeting is are they happy with their identified successors. Only one of the executives leaves things as they were, so all the reporting and analysis already carried out on high potentials will be wrong. Not my problem. My nemesis in workforce planning had it coming by not communicating the process properly to our leaders. I make a note to double check their comms next time. It will make me unpopular, but we are always unpopular in the people team, especially when things are not coordinated across centres of so-called excellence.
Leftover allocation budget
I put together a report for Big Bad Boss on the overall allocations. We have a little bit of allocation budget left and ask what Big Bad Boss what to do about it. He waves me away with the usual airy hand, so I start to work on an executive summary for the Higher Beings. Just when I think I am done, Big Bad Boss tells me to adjust the totals in HR back up to budget. Naturally I am curious. Has he sneakily topped up his own award?
I also help the VPs while they distribute their share award statements. It is all online, but Higher Beings still struggle with things that most employees can manage. Big Bad Boss is helping the CPO with his direct reports so that is one off my list at least. My heart sinks when Big Bad Boss calls a meeting. Has there been a fall out because of all the last-minute changes to succession planning? Has my enemy in workforce planning stirred things up for me. Will the CPO make a fuss about my involvement in last minute changes? My heart is thumping as I consider all the possible outcomes.
I am in shock when Big Bad Boss tells me he has got approval for a succession-based share award for me. I take back everything I said about him.
Next time…Candid works at a different office