Weeknotes 18: self-set salaries
I read an interesting article from design company Hanno about the process that lead them to implementing self-set salaries. Yep, indiviual team members get to decide how much they want to be paid, although there is a feedback and adjustment process as well. They started out trying to implement fairer salaries by trying to design the ‘perfect formula’ to calculate what people should be paid, but after realising that such a formula will always be a blunt instrument they moved to this model:
We quickly realised that there will always be edge cases. We’re not talking about abstract data–we’re talking about the people we work with. And people just don’t fit neatly into formulas. Our problem was that while we had noble intentions, we were trying to approach the problem from the top down, defining a formula and trying to squeeze everyone into it.
Are humans innately competitive? I’ve been in plenty of conversations and debates where somebody always seems to pipe up with this as a constraint on any change in the world that might be imagined.
Call me a dreamer, but I think it’s more complicated than that. Yes, we act competitively in various situations, and that’s not always a problem. But we live in a society where competition is socialised and learned from a very young age, and constantly reinforced. I saw an apartment advert in the street recently with the strapline “Enviable Fitzroy living”, as if your primary goal for an abode ought to be to make others jealous.
I call bullshit. Competitiveness is a part of us, but so is co-operation. Right now we’re exercising the competition muscle much more than the co-operation muscle. And surprise, surprise, it’s bigger. What would happen if we exercised the other one a bit more?