Stephen Perkins: Can an agile reward strategy deliver an employer’s philosophy?

My answer about whether an agile reward strategy can deliver an employer’s philosophy is yes, provided there is honesty and openness among all concerned about what holding fast to the corporate reward philosophy means. The offer may be to recognise predictably what workforce members contribute over the longer term.

Alternatively, offer generous incentives to innovate, but with guaranteed earnings possibly below the average. There may be no one-size-fits-all; the offer may vary between different employee groups depending on what is needed of them and what their skill set enables.

McKinsey consultants say that today’s organisations need to be dynamic and stable at the same time: creating capabilities with the potential to respond to commercial threats and opportunities, underpinned by an organisational architecture whose character is familiar and evolves steadily.

A philosophy in practice of trusting relationships between front-line managers and teams, and between groups of people collaborating based on mutual confidence and respect for what everyone puts in and gets rewarded for, is one way of approaching this challenge.

Agility is associated with sure-footedness and a capacity instinctively to adapt one’s orientation when the terrain changes. As sure-footed as a mountain goat, as the saying goes, but it’s still the same goat. Employers may wish to build capacity to change course or at least implement tactical adjustments to their operational trajectory when an obstacle is sighted. Keeping a look out to see and weigh up the obstacles in the first place, allowing plenty of time to adapt and consult.

Organisations have a social character: employers need to factor in time to dialogue, to take their people with them. Individuals reflect on what they perceive, so interpersonal and virtual workplace relations benefit when managers seek feedback from those invited to enact the agile strategy, informing planning. Confidence that this is part of the philosophy far from slowing things down may in fact enable more sure-footed strategy execution.

Stephen Perkins is an emeritus professor at London Metropolitan University and senior research fellow at the Global Policy Institute