Friday, July 15, 2005

New Stock Option Rule Hit Lower Ranks

I once read something - I can't remember where, but I think it was Stanley Bing - that went something like this (I can't find the direct quote, but here's the essence of it):
No matter how well you do your job, no matter how well you are liked by your superiors, no matter how irreplaceable you are to the organization, your boss will eliminate your high-paying job in order to keep his high-paying job.
This seemingly obvious statement hit me for some reason, I think because it called out how little of business is a "team effort". For the vast majority of managers out there, "work" comes down to little more than keeping their job and increasing their compensation, and little else.

This concept goes all the way to the top in most organizations, which is why periodic attempts by the federal government to "rein in executive compensation" does little more than hurt the lower rank and file. This is because the corporations (run by CEOs and board members who are CEOs of other companies) just rejigger the rules and accounting to keep their compensation the same and force the brunt of the ruling onto the lower ranks - they will eliminate as many jobs or perks below them to keep what they have.

Which is why I was not surprised by a little article tucked away in the 4th section of the WSJ yesterday:
Cuts to equity-compensation plans, being made as a new expensing rule is about to take effect, will effect lower-level employees the most, according to a study by Deloitte Consulting.


Among those reducing stock options, 45% said reductions would occur below management level.
The secretaries and entry-level employees kissing their stock options goodbye can thank the FASB's new accounting rule requiring companies to treat employee stock options as an expense. Although it has no fundamental change to the business, it will force companies who don't want to see the income hit cut stock options - and they aren't going to cut them from the top.

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