Do What Is Right, or What Works?

February 11, 2022

As a manager, from time to time I'm confronted with a dilemma: Some of the people who work for me might ask for compensation which doesn't fit the compensation format or policy of the organization. However, these individuals may be producing incredible results or managing well and wish to be duly compensated.

I'm inclined to enforce the standards, although it might cause one or more of these individuals to resign, which may destroy or at least interrupt the progress and advantages to the organization that that individual was contributing. So, what is there to do?

I have noticed among some of my more successful clients, when they are confronted with this kind of dilemma, that they do not always follow the standard policy or process. They deviate and go with what works, what is contributing to the company materialistically, and allow their processes to vary as needed.

I come from the academic world. I am very pedantic. Everything must be in the right place with the right footnotes and the right proven content. Thus, I stick to the process and ignore how it might impact the results.

Being a businessperson is different from being an academician or a staff person. Businesspeople look at a reality and adjust to that reality—and they let theories remain theories. They use whatever they can, whether it be a mindset, or a framework, or a person, or a resource, to produce the best results. That's why businesspeople are accused of being superficial, or less sophisticated, or exclusively materialistically oriented. But that is what works, and therefore, that is what makes a business successful.

Academia is precise theory. The business world is reality.

Readers might assume that I support accommodating and legitimately violating the right processes. 

Not so. 

Reality works for the short run. Exceptions allow the producing employee to stay in the company.  The right process however assures the long term success of the company. It might be inadequate for the short run. You might lose your top producer but in the long run people know there is a rule, there is a process. There is some level of certainty they can rely on.   Exceptions create in the long run  a destructive culture. 

What do you prefer? Short term success and put in question the long term success of the company or do you focus on the long term and sacrifice the short term success? 

That is the question. 

For long and short term success,  you need to review the process. Maybe the exception should be the new rule. Redesign your reward system. 

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes