Differentiating top reward professionals

Adam Sorensen, WorldatWork

Every few years, WorldatWork conducts a “census” of those who work in the reward profession around the world to find out how the profession is changing. This year’s survey focused on some of the key differentiators of those who make it to the top of the reward profession.

Like many in HR, it’s not uncommon to find that reward practitioners often spend a lot more time thinking about career development for others than for themselves. However, being able to manage one’s own career while developing others is a critical skill set for any reward practitioner, especially those in leadership roles.

The key differentiators from the survey cut across a wide range of topics, but here are a few that stood out to me:

Strategic business understanding – Top performers have an overall understanding of how the business works and how reward programs impact the bottom line. Top performers are not just great at what they do, but they are also cognizant of the “why” of their work.

Passion & productivity – Top performers have a “healthy impatience” to deliver top results, to work across disciplines, and approach challenges holistically.

Technical mastery – Strong analytical skills are essential to success. While average performers tend to focus on the mechanics of reward, top performers fashion the mechanics into an enabling structure that can be modified and shaped to fit specific business needs.

Development support systems – Much knowledge can be gained from tapping into professional networks or taking advantage of mentor relationships.

As I look at my own career trajectory, I see how each of these has been and will continue to be important. I’m curious to hear from others whether these resonate and what else you have found to be the “real” differentiators between those who just get along and those who truly excel.

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