Your anecdote and argument seems to assume that the compensation for each employee needs to be directly tied to some measure of how much "value" they contribute, presumably where that means "business value". Ergo, the rationale goes, since not everyone is contributing "the same value", they should be compensated differently, and so we need a way to measure this "value" that employees are delivering -- hence performance evaluations.
I think it is interesting to explore this assumption, though. In fact, I find this a very American worldview, and it does not hold necessarily true in other countries, even Western European cultures.
I believe this is in part what Phil was pointing at in his original comment -- that these assumptions go largely unexamined, and we could stand to look for a "more enlightened view", as he calls it.
That's an interesting analysis of the core point. I'll need to think about that a bit more.
My immediate reaction is to refer back to your comment of 'well that's capitalism'. If we reach a Star Trek level of post-scarcity then the very idea of compensation becomes laughable. Until then it's the best form of appreciation a corporation has to offer.
I don't think that this is a binary-thing though. There are some places that have a more hybrid model, where some of the compensation is shared unequally, according to what the organization perceives is the relative performance of individuals, and the rest is shared more equally. Because the fact is that a group is more than a sum of its parts.
Yep, this is where I was thinking, thank you both for getting it despite my mild rant (it still irks!).
One thing that could help is a clear understanding in job descriptions and company policy that they operate as a non-competitive organisation internally, while still being part of the larger capital economy (ie: competing with similar companies). Interesting to hear that an organisation attempted to distribute their reward proportionally and it was not well received. I had a similar experience a couple of employers ago and it went down very well with us, but we were a UK consultancy company of ~100 people, not a US product company.
In my mind it's all about focussing on the right goal for the business everywhere and having processes that support that, avoiding ones that disrupt things... I'm a bit socialist at heart, very keen on universal basic income, decentralised global currency and StarTrek levels of non-scarcity, which I believe is possible now if greed can be overcome as a species - enough with the philosophy, I have profit to produce for my shareholders...
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