Articles by Edie Kingston

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Resolve Not To Put Off These Resolutions

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The need for meaningful New Year’s Resolutions is just around the corner.  No doubt as individuals we want to limit our bad habit and expand our good ones, perhaps we are thinking more philanthropically and want to improve the lives of others or “give back” to our communities. No question we all want to be more present and supportive of our friends and families. All of these would improve our individual health and happiness.

We think it is also time for each of us to consider resolutions that can improve the health and happiness (in the form of sustainability and success) of the organization where we work, whether you are a board member, a senior leader, a manager, or an employee.
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Maximizing the Utility of Executive Retirement Plans

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In his article, “A New Look at Executive Retirement Plans,” Phil Currie of Fulcrum Partners explains why current downtrends may be compelling organizations and compensation committees to revisit a venerable standby in the benefit plan lineup: DC SERPs: the hardest-working component in a retirement plan line up.


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From Total Rewards to Total Value Exchange: A Mandate to Engage Key Stakeholders in the Organization’s Vision, Mission, and Values

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fulcrum #1Fewer than one in five companies say that its compensation, benefits, and rewards programs are meeting their objectives, according to research conducted by Grahall LLC.  The not-surprising result: instead of motivating employees, the majority of rewards plans are ineffective and often counterproductive.

How can you get better results from your firm’s compensation and benefits plan? In an interview, Michael Graham, of Grahall LLC and Bruce Brownell of Fulcrum Partners LLC discussed how a Total Rewards Strategy ties employees’ success to the company’s success, unleashing a CEO’s most powerful tool: compensation and rewards. They suggest instead of thinking in terms of total rewards strategy, organizations need to consider the new concept of total value exchange strategy.

This article was published in the September issue of PSX: The Exchange for People Strategy. 


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Top Down | Bottom Up | Middle Out

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In his September article for PSX: People Strategy Exchange eMagazine, Marvin Smith of Deliberate Synergy explains why it takes more than just agreement to make large scale change happen.  Marvin Smith shares insights about top down, bottom up and middle out leadership, and how they are all necessary to ensure the success of large scale change projects.


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We Guessed It!

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Jamie Dimon won re-election to the JPM Board “by a landslide” of just under 68% of the votes ensuring that he will continue to hold the both the CEO and Chairman posts. We certainly are not surprised, and predicted this on our blog Now That’s a Tempest in a Teapot.
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It is Absolutely All Relative

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There are important question shareholders, boards, the media, and the public should be asking when it comes to CEO pay, but it’s not necessarily “how much”.  In her April 6, 2013 article for the New York Times, If Shareholders Say ‘Enough Already,’ the Board May Listen Gretchen Morgenson writes, “Last year, the median chief executive at a United States company with more than $5 billion in revenue received about $14 million, 2.8 percent more than in 2011, according to an annual pay analysis conducted by Equilar. The 2012 increase, though relatively modest, still represents a raise for most of those who inhabit the corner office (and whose companies had filed the data by the end of March)…. Do this year’s figures show any evidence of progress toward a new pay paradigm? You know, where the gap between the compensation of executives and workers narrows, or where company directors put shareholders’ interests before those of the hired hands?” 
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Filed under: Expert Perspective - Rewards



Determining the Level of Employee Engagement is Only the First Step….

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An April 2, 2013 article in Forbes by Susan Adams surfaced a study by Leadership IQ that found that “More than a third of companies are so dysfunctional, the best people don’t really care about what they’re doing and the worst people don’t know that they are doing a lousy job…. Companies should be worried about these findings… because high performers tend to thrive on feeling involved and challenged.”

Wow, 42%!   That sounds like a big number, but since we don’t know the nature of the sample, other than that “leadership IQ’s research base includes thousands of companies and their employees” it is hard to tell how broadly these results should be applied.
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Filed under: Expert Perspective - Organization Development



Should JP Morgan Split the CEO and Chairman’s Role? Now That’s a Tempest in a Teapot!

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All the discussions about JP Morgan and whether Jamie Dimon should remain as the CEO and Chairman, or if those role should be separated, miss the key and critical issue that this just one point out of perhaps 80 or more variables that determine whether a company is or will be properly governed by its board.

Here are just two of the many important issues to examine with regard to JP Morgan:

1) What is the board culture? Is it participative? Are directors encouraged to be actively engaged, or is it compliant?
2) Why is there no succession plan in place for the CEO position at JP Morgan? Whether the CEO is 50 or 70 years or age, whether they are star performers or just average, every company (and especially every publicly traded company) must have a succession plan.

So as this story plays out, and the shareholders’ vote is revealed today (which we are predicting will be in favor of continuing to combine the roles of CEO and Chairman), we too will examine these and other important consideration around board governance.

At Grahall we do not over simplifying an issue. We will provide you with tangible, empirical evidence based on expansive and thoughtful research and our deep experience working with companies of all sizes, in all industries and at all levels of maturity. To access our Board of Director’s Research Series click here.

For a preview of our thinking see Michael Dennis Graham’s book Board of Directors Governance & Rewards or call Michael at 917.453.4341

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Ask Not How Much, Ask Why

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According to a March 31, 2013 article in the New York Times by Susanne Craig: “Since the financial crisis, compensation for the directors of the nation’s biggest banks has continued to rise even as the banks themselves, facing difficult markets and regulatory pressures, are reining in bonuses and pay.”

Well, “reining in” of executive pay might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is no question that the Chairman’s role and other board members of Wall Street firms have lucrative pay packages. And over the past several months, or even years, with a growing portion of director pay made in stock (and with share prices for these firms soaring), director pay has increased. But the bigger question is not “how much” but “how and why”.

As Michael Graham shared in his recently published book Board of Directors Governance and Rewards, “We believe that boards don’t get the respect they deserve for the success of the businesses they oversee, but neither are they held much accountable when the businesses they oversee flounder… If the business strategies work, then the CEO should get credit for execution and the Board for foresightedness (not just the credit for hiring the right guy). If business strategies fail then the CEO should carry the blame for poor choice of strategy or poor implementation and the Board for failure to appropriately examine the plans (not just the blame for overpaying the CEO).”

And speaking of how CEO pay drives behaviors, the same is true for director pay, but for directors there is a different angle. Directors (much like US congressmen) set their own pay. It is part of their responsibilities for corporate governance. Therefore board governance and board pay cannot be decoupled. Further, the most important consideration for both governance and pay is the idea of contribution: how does the board contribute to the company and how does each director contribute to the work of the board, and how  these contributions drive board pay.

There is a wide spectrum of board contribution levels from “hands off” to “hands on.” In Grahall’s ground breaking Board of Directors Research Series we found that a board’s relationship with the company can be measured and arrayed to give a quantitative understanding of its “contribution” level. Grahall identified 40 variables which are gleaned from proxies to represent the degree of contribution of each board.

With this large number of variable, there is a nearly infinite number of combinations and permutations of the influencing factors that set the threshold conditions for board governance and reward program success. Board governance and reward program design needs to be an active, dynamic, adaptive, and “situational” effort. Where there are different levels of contribution, the board reward levels should also be different.

Pay must be equal to contribution, and contribution must be aligned with governance, and governance aligned with shareholder interest. So if director pay appears high it is only “too high” if the contribution is less than the pay should demand. The reward strategy needs to be consistent with the level of contribution. High contribution should generate high compensation and vice versa.


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Jay Wolf Speaks to Hedge Fund Managers about Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

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82x107xjay_wolf_bioth.jpg.pagespeed.ic.TIwr0fP4P2Jay Wolf,  a Consultant and Executive Coach with Grahall, was a keynote speaker at the UBS PREMIER HEDGE FUND CLIENT CONFERENCE held in Naples, Florida on April 17-19, 2013. Jay spoke about the power of emotionally intelligent leadership in motivating employee performance and enhancing organizational success.

Access this compelling and important speech by clicking here: Emotionally Intelligent Leadership.

Jay works in a wide range of industries specializing in Leadership Development, Performance Assessments and Organizational and Executive Coaching. Mr. Wolf is also a principle and co-founder of JCris Consulting Group, an international consulting and coaching firm. Using their “Power Methodology”, JCris Consulting Group partners with organizations to enhance human capital performance and deliver better bottom-line results.

Contact Jay at jay.wolf@grahall.com

Each participant at this conference also received a copy of Grahall’s Michael Dennis Graham’s latest book Hedge Fund People Strategy: Human Capital that Supports Investment Excellence, Sustainability, and Growth. This important book provides readers with a perspective on the key dimensions of hedge fund people strategy and the organizational, talent management, compensation and employee relations practices in the hedge fund industry. More than just describing these practices, this book outlines why the practices need to be unique to each firm, and how firms can ensure that human capital is working as hard as the financial, intellectual, information, and other capital components demonstrated in today’s most successful firms. This book offers an unrivaled look at one of the little discussed but critical success factors in the hedge fund industry, its people.

Contact Michael (917) 453-4341 or michael.graham@grahall.com

Filed under: Expert Perspective - Leadership Development