Consulting - Netherlands - 4 partners - For Profit
- M. Professional, scientific and technical activities
In small organizations, the process to set salaries and get advice can involve everyone. All colleagues can come together for a meeting to discuss and honor their contribution and decide on the appropriate salary levels for every person in turn.
Realize!, a four-person partnership in the field of organizational development consulting based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, sets salaries in this way. (Note: since this writing, Realize has changed structure and this process although it remains relevant and inspirational). Each quarter, the four partners come together for a much-anticipated discussion.
The meeting starts with a traditional business update―discussing client activity, prominent events, and key figures for the last quarter. Then comes the beautiful (and sensitive) part: each partner in turn shares his perspective on his contribution during the last quarter, including work he has done, projects he has led, and support he has given to others. While one partner speaks, the others can chime in to add any unreported contributions, offer praise, or ask a critical question. When the group is done and feels that everyone’s contribution has been heard and honored, each person pauses to reflect in silence about compensation. How could the earnings from the last quarter be shared among the partners in a way that reflects everyone’s contribution?
At some point, one partner breaks the silence with a proposal. Sometimes, the proposal feels just right and gets accepted on the spot. More often, it is a basis for a discussion: I feel my contribution here or your contribution there deserves a higher recognition. How exactly the cash will be split, the partners acknowledge, is ultimately not what this conversation is about. The discussion serves a higher purpose: making sure everybody feels his or her contribution is fully valued, that the inner and outer perspectives (what I know and what others perceive) are in sync. It is an exercise in openness, trust, and vulnerability. The four partners report that invariably they go into the discussion with some nervousness and leave the meeting with a deep sense of gratitude (and spontaneous collegial hugs) for being part of a partnership that operates from such deep levels of listening and trust.
Notes and references
Laloux, Frederic. Reinventing Organizations. Nelson Parker (2014), page 130. ↩︎