March Madness for Comp Pros

March Madness for Comp Pros

For millions of college basketball fans around the country this time of year is known simply as March Madness. It is a time to build your tournament brackets and root for your favorite teams (or at least the ones you picked).

For compensation management professionals around the country, March Madness has a whole new meaning. For many organizations this month marks the end of another grueling compensation cycle filled with stress, frustration and LOTS of…(you guessed it) mistakes.

Instead of filling out brackets of 64 teams (which is confusing enough), you have been filling out dozens spreadsheets with hundreds or even thousands of your company's own players complete with salaries, bonuses, stock options and more.

But the madness doesn't stop there! Just like fans posting their brackets online or with friends, you then share this dreaded compilation of confidential spreadsheets by emailing it to colleagues all over the country to compare numbers, get approvals, and add even more data.

When the madness subsides at the end of the tournament, there is a winner standing but never a 100% winning bracket. In fact, the chances of having a perfect bracket are so slim, last year Warren Buffet famously offered $1 Billion to anyone that could come up with a perfect bracket (note: Warren still has that $1 Billion). In fact, mathematicians suggest that there is a 1 in 100 billion chance someone will get it right. Not a big deal when you consider that someone still wins the office pool, even if they were not perfect.

But when the madness subsides after a comp cycle – there are often painful and costly errors left to explain. Even the smallest of spreadsheet formula mistakes, mistyped entries, or worse yet, leaked confidential information can lead to devastating legal and financial results. And it happens more often than you might think. In fact, it's pretty rare that it doesn't happen.

With so much on the line, why gamble with your company's compensation cycle? This is a great time of year to reflect on the madness and find a way to fix it before the next one. Solicit feedback on how to improve, seek out what went wrong and why, and identify your weaknesses. Waiting won't make it easier next time, and with every subsequent cycle, the issues will only compound.

So huddle up with your colleagues and come up with a game plan that reduces your compensation planning risk and stress . That way, next year during March Madness, you can worry more about the office pool than the company payroll.