Strategic Human Capital Insights

Are You ‘Bonusing’ Underperformance?


This is the first installment in our Managing Human Capital Risk series.

“The best corporate strategy can fail at implementation without a human capital strategy supporting it.”


Hand with marker writing the word PerformanceThe Critical Importance of the Job Benchmark

I recently met with a client and while we were discussing an employee performance issue, I asked a very simple question: “How is your employee performing against the benchmark?” Since many conversations on the topic of employee performance often center around an employee in isolation or comparing an employee relative to other employees, we are often using inherently biased and subjective information when assessing an employee.


With that backdrop, we discussed how the employee was being evaluated relative to:

  • the amount the employee was being paid
  • an objective assessment of how the employee was actually doing or not doing against the ideal competencies and tasks of the position – THE BENCHMARK.

Busy is Not a Metric

In the course of our conversation, we moved away from the topic of how busy the employee was since ‘Busy is not a metric’.  It was determined that this employee was being highly paid relative to both the work being done and the work the employee chose not to do. I then asked if my client felt they were funding underperformance?  I was surprised when the response was, ’We are not just funding underperformance, we are ‘bonusing’ underperformance.”  That was a critical moment in our conversation that resonated with both of us.  And the response should resonate with you too – especially since many of you are right in the middle of the year-end performance review and compensation cycle. 

Managing Human Capital Risk – Macro Issues

You are only as strong as your weakest link

Is your organization actively and rigorously working to mitigate your people risk? Here are strategic organizational issues to consider: 

  • Strategic Human Capital Alignment
  • Ability to Capitalize on Competitive Opportunities
  • Human Capital Cost / Productivity Analysis
  • Human Capital and Value Creation 
  • Human Capital Forecasting 
  • Accountability – Performance Loop to Ensure Strategic Alignment 


If these are issues that you would like to explore with your organization, we invite you to download our latest "Managing Human Capital Risk" checklist, or you can also schedule a complimentary assessment with a member of our team.

Download the Checklist >>


Topics: Human Capital

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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