Showing posts from 2006

Email Lives Forever?

We began to learn this week about Federal Procedure 34, a new law that requires companies to keep almost forever any email correspondence, Instant Messages (if your system archives them), or any other form of electronic communication that could be discoverable as part of litigation . What's discoverable? Well, practically anything. While companies are just now starting to grapple with the implications of this new law, the end result will be that routine email correspondence will live for a very long time, if not forever, in some form of storage from which it can be recalled. Now, most of us behave ourselves well during the work day. Every now and then, however, we get a little too casual with use of the system. So, imagine the oh-so-clever remark you made about how your boss parted his hair, or the fight you had with your wife, or the sweet talk to that single co-worker, or the flame-out over something or someone who frustrated forever somewhere. So, email with cautio

Excellent Article

I highly recommend an article in the most recent New Yorker magazine, available now on-line at . It is a thoughtful overview of the Bible publishing business and speaks well of our company, our industry, and mentions several current and former Nelson staff. Well worth the read...Enjoy. Jim

Good Kids

I was late getting to work yesterday morning. As I turned onto Elm Hill from Donelson Pike I noticed people in the parking lots of Arby's and Backyard Burger getting out of their cars or coming out of the restaurants and literally running into the street. It was after I noticed these people that I noticed the car stalled in the middle of Elm Hill blocking both lanes. Inside were a young mother, an infant, and what appeared to be the grandmother. I got around the car, pulled into Arby's and joined the 7 or 8 people who by then had pushed the vehicle into the parking lot and together we pushed it into the parking space the next to mine. When the pushing stopped and people stood up straight I noticed that I was, by far, the oldest person in the group. Ouch... Heading on the office I thought of how often we hear that the world is going straight to hell. Values are lost, younger generations are no good, we're in a post-Christian culture, yadda, yadda, yadda.... To all that I o

Filtered OJ

We interrupt this series of compensation blog postings for a word about filters. Since the One Company announcement much has been said about our publishing filter, which is just another way of saying our publishing standards. As is typical with 650 people, some of you think its too restrictive, some think its just about right, and a lot of you don't care one way or the other. Over the weekend I had very little down time or TV time, but in the scant minutes I was around a television I heard about the new O.J. Simpson book every time the set was on. For those of you out of the house or in a cave over the weekend, this book is about how he would have murdered his wife if he had committed the murders. His publisher was quoted in the Tennesseean last week as saying, "I regard this has his confession". NBC news reported that his advance for the book was in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. There has been an overwhelmingly negative response to the book, and to its publisher

Base Pay II: Calculating Base Pay Targets

In our last post we discussed the resources we use to gather data. Today we'll review what companies do with that data in the calculation of base pay. There's an old saying in building spreadsheets that says, "first, turn off your PC"; in other words, design first and enter numbers afterward. In base pay, the process is similar. First, companies have to put the data aside and look at their organization and make several decisions about culture, industry, strategy, desired market position, and what jobs you employ. While this is usually done the first time you price jobs, it has to be done periodically as new companies are acquired or as business units change significantly in the number and nature of their positions. Culture is our first consideration; is the company more conservative than entrepreneurial, or the opposite? Is it focused on keeping cash for a rainy day, or more concerned about taking advantage of every opportunity. Does it value high-fliers; those emp

Base Pay I: Resources We Use

As promised, we'll now turn our attention to how we calculate the fair market value of a position's base pay. To revisit our earlier post on terminology, base pay is the wage you receive every two weeks and does not include commissions, spiffs, or bonus. These are variable compensation pieces, and the value at targeted performance is usually calculated or expressed as some percentage of base pay. The base pay calculation, therefore, is very important in accurate and fair compensation as it impacts variable pay calculations. The first important consideration in knowing how job prices are calculated is to know what we use to calculate them. This is the subject of today's post. Job Descriptions - Specifically, we focus on the section in the JD template that addresses skills, duties and resopnsibilities, and specifically not the sections on education, reports to, or title. Job value is all about the duties of the position and the scope of responsibility (people supervised

Second Compensation Topic: Basic Terminology

When we talk about compensation to each other we often get tangled in our terminology. What's the difference between a salary and being on salary? If the market pays "x" for my job, is that before or after bonus or commission? How does the cost of benefits figure into my compensation? What is equity, and how do I get some of it? What's the difference between an ESOP and a stock option? All these are fair questions aimed at answering the big question: when it all adds up, do the numbers add up to fair treatment? We'll get into some of these questions later on, but for now let's start with identifying the basic elements of typical employee compensation and what we call it. The wages that you bring home every two weeks, whether earned by the hour or by the pay period, comprise your base pay . If you punch a time card, this is your hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours you work. If you work over 40 hours in a pay week, that rate is (1.5 x hourly rate) x h

One More Vacation Getaway?

If you're thinking about squeezing one more getaway into the summer before the kids go back to school, consider Gatlinburg (yes, Gatlinburg and hang in for a few sentences and I'll tell you why). We just came back from there having spent Wednesday through Saturday of last week off from work and it was, to my surprise, only about half full. For those of us who have been going for over 40 years (I had family there), or who go sometimes in the off season, this summer's sparse crowds remind you of a typical March crowd or of the typical summer crowd 20-30 years ago. We drove the speed limit from I-40 through Sevierville and Pigeon Forge all the way into Gatlinburg on Wednesday afternoon at around 4:00. We drove into the mountains on Saturday, again at the speed limit, all the way to Cherokee, NC. Besides the light crowds, and the natural beauty, there are deals. I saw about a half dozen motel signs in Pigeon Forge advertising rates from $25 - $28 per night. Now, this is Family

First Installment: The Touchy Issue of Pay

Questions about how much we're paid are some of the most complicated matters we deal with both as supervisors and in HR. As issues go, these are consistently emotionally loaded and never fully go away; pay is ever-present as long as you're in the workforce. In our January employee survey, and in our April focus groups, this issue came forward as it has in every survey I've ever done or read about across three separate industries. What I found striking about our results was how much the pay issue differed from division to division, and how different the understanding of how you look at pay in the corporate environment differed by age and experience. Let's look at what makes pay issues soooo touchy. Job vs. Personal Worth The pay issue is deeply personal when people define themselves by what they do ("I am Vice President of Human Resources") instead of by their relationships ("I am Vonnie's husband and Rachel's dad") and who they are (Kentuck

Immigration Protests and Unemployment in Perspective

Well May 1st has come and gone and all the hype and hysteria inspired me to do some research. If you listened to Phil Valentine (those of you around Nashville) you might think that your job is going to be done by an illegal immigrant at half pay some time next week. If you watch NBC news you'd think this was a spontaneous civil rights campaign. Neither is correct. The Center for Immigration Studies, and independent, non-partisan think tank that studies immigration issues published findings in 2005 that estimated the number of immigrants in America to be 35.2 million. An estimated 7.9 million of these arrived between 2000 and 2005 and about 3.7 million of them were illegal/undocumented. So, talk radio jocks might say, this is the smoking-gun-proof that we must build our own Berlin Wall in Texas to keep the Latinos out before we all lose our jobs, right? Well, not exactly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor tracks unemployment by month, quarter, year, ag

The Waiter Rule

I highly recommend a great article originally in USA Today (see link) and in today's print edition of the Tennessean. The articles are about how today's CEO's, who don't agree on much, substantially agree that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat the waiter, hotel maid, mail room clerk, etc... Originally developed by Bill Swanson, CEO of Raytheon in the 1970's, the Waiter Rule is basically this; someone who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person. It is sage advice. It is not uncommon for candidates wanting executive positions to be interviewed over dinner, both as a way to get acquainted and to assess how they treat others. I've also seen "the wife variation" whereby you invite both the candidate and spouse to dinner with you and your spouse to assess (1) how the candidate treats the waiters, (2) how they treat their spouse and (3) what your spouse feels about them as people. Believe me, you can use this anywhere

A Tough Week for Hispanic Nashville

Its been a bad week to be Hispanic in Nashville. Our own Senator Bill Frist sent signals that "illegal immigration" will be a cornerstone in his anticipated presidential campaign. Restauranteur Aureliano Ceja, owner of La Hacienda in the Little Mexico area of Nolinsville Road was beaten to death in a home invasion; his wife remains in critical condition similarly beaten. Land owner Fermin Estrada, while shooting off his pistol in a traditional Mexican celebration during a family barbecue was shot in the head with a rifle by a Shelby County Sheriff's deputy who says he felt threatened. Indeed, this has not been our finest week as a society. During my last eight years before coming to Nelson I worked in and around El Paso, Juarez, Chihuahua City, and Torreon setting up manufacturing plants. Here I'll admit my bias that I'm a fan of the Mexican people and feel that Hispanics in general are getting a raw deal in today's political climate. During my Mexican tour

Privacy and Prayer Requests

We've had more than our usual share of employees in the hospital or out on leave in recent days. This has led a few of you to wonder why we don't share this type of information in the form of prayer requests with the workforce. After all, aren't we Christians? Don't we in HR believe that prayer works? Apparently we once shared this type of information, but the laws of the land and the expectations of sick or injured individuals have changed with it. Here's the new landscape. Around 2000 the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act (HIPPA) passed through Congress. Within weeks every HR department, hospital, doctor's office, or any facility that handled private medical information had to put in safeguards to make sure personal information did not become publicly known. This is why you can go to a hospital and ask for "Joe Blow's room number" and get it, but you can't go to a hospital and ask if Joe Blow is a patient (they won't tell you)

The Blame Game

Sooner or later, if hasn't already, it will happen to you; someone will blame you for something to keep attention off themselves. It may be something simple like you were supposed to make those copies or call that customer and didn't, when it really wasn't your job. Or it could be something big like a major and costly mistake. What do you do when someone tries to throw you overboard to protect themselves? How do you uphold your values, and the company's, and protect yourself and your job? To answer that its first important to know who blamers are and why they do it. Blamers have one thing in common; they are afraid. They may be the staff member with a fragile ego who is afraid to be wrong. They may be your cubicle neighbor who is afriad for their job and who feels that they can't afford to "look bad". Or, and this is unfortunately too often the case, they are that individual who is underpowered intellectually or too fragile emotionally to get the

The Kool Aid Tastes Good

For those of you who don't know, Vonnie and I moved to Old Hickory the week before Christmas. So, after 4 1/2 years of supercommuting from Kentucky we're now Nashvillians. Why after all this time? Was it the promotion? Well, actually, we decided on the move and discussed it with the company a few weeks before the promotion. Was it that our house sold? Well, no, sadly our home in Russellville hasn't sold yet (but would make a nice home for someone so call me!). Truth is, after a couple of years on the fence we saw true and irrefutable evidence that this company is headed toward becoming the kind of place where you want to work for years. And, now that we're moving more toward good works in the world and lessening our emphasis on the uninspiring, "...and enhancing shareholder value" from our old mission statement, Vonnie and I believe this is a cause worth the next few years of our life. Now, this is not a testimonial about Thomas Nelson (well, it's not jus