If you are like me, you like to do things yourself. I generally know how long things will take and I like the satisfaction of saying “I did it”. But there are times when I pause and ask myself does it make sense for me to do this. This is especially true when there is a lot on my plate, and I must choose between working on projects or on a relatively simple but urgent request.
For me personally, I really dislike plumbing and I’m not good at it. No matter what I do I seem to struggle to squeeze into those little spaces and feel like I am going to break my arm. And there always seems to be a leak when I’m done. So, even though I don’t like to spend the money on plumbing, for me an expert is always the way to go!
At your company, there are several situations where it makes sense to go with an expert including:
- You do not have someone on your team with the knowledge or experience,
- When you are dealing with issues that impact a very sensitive employee group or a lot of employees where it is critical to get it right,
- When you need or have to improve credibility with stakeholders including management or employees,
- There are special laws that need to be considered and you just don’t deal with them on a regular basis,
- You have team members who are on leave or vacation, and of course,
- Your team is already at or beyond capacity and you do not need or want to hire someone but you just could use the extra hands.
When thinking about executive compensation, it makes sense to get help from an expert when hiring executive officers. There are a lot of factors to consider in this situation including internal equity, employee perceptions for publicly disclosed compensation information, the Compensation Committee, the Board of Directors, and how your investors and shareholder advisory groups will view the situation. Making a mistake here can create headaches for you when it comes time to seek shareholder approval of your executive compensation practices or proposals.
When you do decide to hire an expert, remember, their help can take many forms.
Extension of Your Team
We all know that during the year, there are times when there is more work than our teams can handle. Also, our staff will take vacations or go on family medical leave. Consider hiring a partner who can act as an extension of your team with dedicated hours to do what you need done for a period of time or just be available when you need help. Your partner can help with critical projects or the day-to-day work (e.g., market pricing or job offers) so you can focus on other priorities.
In this situation the experts will create the design, or fine tune yours, and then create everything that supports rolling out the design including presentations, communications, and plan documents. This approach is great when you do not have the expertise OR bandwidth for the project.
Co-Author Work In Partnership
This is a great idea when you want to be involved in the work while getting expert help. Your company can learn a lot using this approach. Remember, this also creates a situation where you are partners and have an equal stake in the results. I was fortunate to partner and co-present with Jeremy Erickson of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Jon Burg of Infinite Equity on the impact of the CEO Pay Ratio requirements at a Global Equity Organization conference. Partnering with Jeremy and Jon provided the opportunity to gain expertise and directly apply it in a business setting.
External viewpoints can be very helpful when making sure your proposed designs, plans, programs and/or content are designed and communicated well. External advisors typically look at things differently since they have exposure to multiple companies and designs. You will most likely appreciate their insights and suggested improvements. And, it provides you the ability to say an expert agrees with your approach.
Doing projects yourself is very satisfying; however, there are times when hiring an expert is the right choice especially when you use a model that works well for you and your company. Each project and situation is different; trust your judgement on when to “jump in the pool” and hire someone. For me, hiring a plumber is always the right thing to do!
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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.