Competitive Finger Pointing
Life in Corporate America
Being a competitive athlete, I assumed the corporate world would be like sports: High stress, high accountability, survival of the fittest.
My assumptions could not have been further from the truth.
Within my first 6 months working a corporate job, the same finger pointing that would have been forbidden on a sports field, was par for the course at the office. Managers would say that HR set limits on employee compensation, while HR would say that employees should speak with their Managers about how to increase wages.
As frustrating as the lack of accountability was, it served the incentive structure of the institution. As organizations become larger, HR and Financial departments seek to avoid exposure to singular dependences, i.e. employee hijackings. Companies frequently want to disempower employees from acting as mini-dictators, because if this is allowed, not only will the CEO lose oversight over his Generals and Lieutenants, the company will also expose itself to the risk of a disgruntled employee saying, "Pay me or it all collapses."
The remedy for this risk is collaborative decision making, which of course means gridlock. Because almost nobody gets rewarded with a mini-fiefdom or a massive bonus for making the "right call," everyone is worried about avoiding being the one who made the wrong one.
Pareto principles apply to corporate production, but not corporate compensation. At each level, the 20% who do 80% of the work may only receive 40% of the overall compensation. All of this leads to passive risk aversion.