Bright Ideas:
Retire to Coach
3 June 2014

¶ What a concept! Imagine a business organization in which employs “retire,” with lower salaries, into managerial positions? What if just doing your job well was the only task on your desk. The work might change, but it would never involve managing other workers until your later years. In other words, the whole concept of “promotion” would be stood on its head.

Sounds pie-in-the-sky, right? But that’s what Felix Salmon is advocating, more or less, in a post at Medium. (Click through.)

The alternative is far better: pay people according to the value their job provides to the company. If they can provide more value to another company, then let them leave: at a stroke you get rid of the syndrome whereby people can only get paid more by looking for a job elsewhere and threatening to leave unless they get a raise.

Recognize, too, that while managers do indeed add value to a company, there’s no particular reason to believe that they add more value to a company than the people who report to them.

In this new configuration, the manager is more like a coach, someone who helps the team achieve its objectives. (The “retirement” angle was really our idea.)

The result: an organization where fairly-compensated people work together as a team, rather than trying to work out the best way to make money for themselves at the expense of their colleagues. If you do away with the slippery pole, and do away with the idea that if you get promoted into a managerial role then you’ll get paid a lot more money, then your organization will be a much happier place to work.

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