How You Add Value: Should BAs be Paid on Commission?

Years ago, I read an article on, Should IT Workers Unionize. The author put forward the notion of IT workers unionizing. I find this concept fascinating, and one I […]

Years ago, I read an article on, Should IT Workers Unionize. The author put forward the notion of IT workers unionizing. I find this concept fascinating, and one I completely disagree with. I feel it would promote people to work, but not work on the right things. It made me think of an idea around how you get paid. Instead of a salary, I believe you should be paid on commission. If you and your team add value to the business, you get paid. If you don’t add value, you don’t get paid. Ok, maybe you get a base salary with a large portion of your salary commission based.

I see too often individuals and teams just go through the motions. It’s no surprise this happens in IT because it happens everywhere. A recent Gallup poll shows that 31.5% of US employees are actively engaged, 51% are disengaged (going through the motions), and 17.5% are actively disengaged (trying to sabotage everything).

Projects are still challenged at a high percentage. Teams are not aligned to the same goal. We don’t have to be aligned because in many organizations you still get paid even though outcomes are not being achieved. As analysts, you play a critical role in the success of projects. Do you think your project teams are that good that you’d forgo your steady paycheck and only get paid if agreed upon outcomes were achieved?

Let’s take a look at the sales profession for a moment. They sell products or services for a company and most of their salary is based on how well they perform against sales goals. They miss their goal, their commission is less; they meet their goal, they get their full commission; if they exceed their goal, they get their full commission plus some. Sounds like a good structure for you and your team, right? If your team doesn’t deliver as much value as anticipated, you get less. You add value as anticipated; you get paid your full commission. You exceed value, you get a bonus.

Ok, before you start telling all your friends that I’ve lost my mind, let me just say this is a little far-fetched. Play along with me. Even if your salary structure does not change you need to change your mindset and work like you are being paid on commission.

Here are a few things to add to your practice that will add value to your team and organization:

  1. Make sure the team has a shared understanding of the outcomes to be achieved by your initiative.
  2. Do just enough, just in time.
  3. Builds relationships like your life depends on it.

Outcomes: Before the team runs down a path solving something. Make sure you, the project team, and business stakeholders are all on the same page regarding the outcomes to be achieved. What problem are you trying to solve, or opportunity are you seizing? What does success look like and how do you know when you’re done? If you can’t all answer those questions, there is a high risk of failure. As the initiative is underway you should always check to see if you are still headed down the right path. And you can ask the question, “Are we done?”

Do Just Enough:  As an analyst there are many techniques at your disposal. How do you know you are doing what is necessary to help the team achieve the outcome and nothing more? One word…decisions. Do the things that help others make decisions. Think about what happens on your projects if decisions don’t get made. You got it…nothing. If you can help facilitate decision making, you add value. Prioritizing features is a big decision that gets made. Learn what criteria your stakeholders need to make priority decisions. Use techniques and tools to help them make the decision. Then stop once the decision is made. That’s just enough.

Build Relationships:  My goal in life is to meet everyone in the world. Some people tell me this is a big hairy audacious goal. Can’t argue. I have this goal because I want to build relationships and have a network of people, I can count on to help me. We do not have enough time to know everything there is to know. We do have enough time to know enough people, so we can find the answer to everything. Here is one example how you can help your team achieve goals faster by having a large network of relationships. On your projects you are not always given access to the right subject matter experts. If you took the time to build relationships, you would know who in the organization had the information you needed. Even though that person is not on your project, they’ll give you what you need because you have a relationship. That’s how you add value!

Don’t wait until you are paid on commission to change the way you work. If you change your approach to focus on value added activities now, your project success rate will start to improve. Things will be so good you’ll ask to be paid on commission!

If you are ready to add value through a focus on outcomes, decision making, and relationship building keep an eye out for live, virtual training, and 24/7 access to 5-minute training videos, downloadable resources on BA-Cube.