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  • May 16, 2022 11:34 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    By Dustin Paschal

    Earlier this month, I was on the ballot in my municipality’s local school board election. I ran for an open seat, and I spent the last six to seven months campaigning. Campaigning cost me money, time from my friends and family, time away from work, and time away from my other volunteer activities. I was happy to do it, though, because I felt like I could make a difference, and I felt that this was a place I could give back. I lost. Since this was a school board election, I also lost very publicly.  

    News flash – this was not the first time I have lost. I lost an election for a student leadership position in college. I lost a moot court competition my first year in law school. 

    I lost out on several jobs coming out of law school. As a practicing attorney early in my career, I lost an election for an executive leadership position on the young lawyer board. I have lost hearings and trials. Right about now, you are probably wondering how I have any clients at all with this kind of record. 

    Well, I have had plenty of wins too. After the loss in college, I joined a different organization and ultimately became its president. After the moot court competition loss, I entered the competition the following year and made it into the Top 10 of individual speakers. I have won hearings and trials. More importantly, I have a successful law firm and in a few short months we will celebrate our nine-year anniversary.

    Losing is a fact of life. I have yet to meet anyone in my life who has not lost something. 

    In fact, after my recent election loss, two well-respected mayors told me stories about their early election losses. 

    Since we are in the middle of Mental Health Awareness month, talking about loss seems particularly important. 

    I did not and have not always lost gracefully and losing has often caused me pain. I am here to tell you; it is okay to be hurt by loss.  

    While losing is a fact of life and losing may hurt, losing is worthwhile if you learn from it and grow from it

    Losing is a lesson. To make it worthwhile, though, you must examine the loss and determine what the lesson is.

    Did you take the wrong approach?
    Did you make mistakes along the way?
    Were you ready for the challenge?
    Are you in the wrong career/industry/volunteer organization?
    Did you have the right people around you?
    Can you make a bigger difference somewhere else or by doing something else?
    Is this the right time?

    Losing does not always mean that you did something wrong or made the wrong choices. Sometimes, there are circumstances beyond your control and factors at play that are outcome determinative. It is important to acknowledge that and accept that. Sometimes, losing is a gentle nudge to push you in another direction or to encourage you to chase that dream.

    It is just as important, though, to determine where you did make mistakes so that you can correct those moving forward. 

    As Frank Sonnenberg says, “Practice doesn’t make perfect if you’re doing it wrong.”

    It is also critical that you do not let the loss define you and that you do not get mired in the pain. I have always found that I am more driven and more motivated after a loss. After the initial pain, there is a fire in my belly to achieve. I encourage you to use your loss as kindling to light your own fire.

    Losing can make you stronger and more resilient. 

    Losing can make you a better person. 

    As odd as it sounds, I hope that I never stop losing and I hope you feel the same about your life.


    This blog is sponsored by Eleserv. 


  • May 02, 2022 11:35 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    By Holly Novak

    We’ve endured numerous hardships since early 2020, and I imagine everyone would say their mental health has been impacted, whether minor feelings of being down all the way to severe depression, anxiety and other mental health impacts. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Nataly Kogan this past week who is the author of a wonderful book titled The Awesome Human Project – Break Free from Daily Burnout, Struggle Less, and Thrive More in Work and Life. One of the most powerful statements that Nataly shares is that “you can’t give what you don’t have.” As a recovering perfectionist and extreme extrovert, I have spent most of my life looking for ways to please those around me and assure that I am exceeding all expectations at work, home, church, and with my friends. Over time, I have realized that finding that work life balance is an impossible task, and that if I don’t stop and take the time to care for myself, I cannot care well for those around me.

    I have discovered that there is no true “work life balance”. Work is a subset of life, not separate from it- especially since many of us work where we live and live where we work! We integrate our work into our hobbies, family and friends, and our life. Just as we integrate work into our lives, we also must integrate self-care and give ourselves permission to step away and find ways to refresh and find ways to increase our mental, physical, and emotional energy. Nataly also says that “Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s your responsibility to yourself, your work, the people you care about and your community.”

    There’s a lot of amazing tips out there (check out Nataly’s book), but here are some things that I have learned personally as I work through my own journey towards self-care and balance. First, I have to have music while I am working. No clue why, but it helps my brain and reduces stress and anxiety throughout the day. Second, I do my hard things at the beginning of the day while my brain is still fresh and save the easy things like email for when my low time comes around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I also get up and walk away from my desk at least once an hour to give my eyes and brain a rest, and I try to walk outside if possible. Exercise is key for me, and I have to get in a good workout at least 3-4 times a week and eat healthy which helps with my stress level and also helps me to think clearly. Finally, I have learned to give myself a break. None of us are perfect - we fail, we say the wrong things, we talk before thinking fully, we send an email to the wrong person, and we forget things! Although it’s not always easy, I have learned to give myself grace and know that I am enough and so are you!

    The last thing I will leave you with today is the encouragement to ask others for help when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t let stress and anxiety stand in the way of your health and happiness – life is too short! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it takes courage and vulnerability and is a clear sign of strength. I hope you join me on this journey to health, happiness and balance! 


  • April 18, 2022 10:14 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    Before the coronavirus chaos, the future of work was already expected to move toward telecommuting. Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic forced people and businesses to adapt to remote working—whether they were ready for it or not. It forced us to some things that we have always considered, but just not motivated enough to make the change.

    I’ve heard it said the pandemic has acted as a reset button for organizations, showing that we can easily work from home, which will completely change the future of work in a variety of ways. Indeed, the era of everyone working full-time in centralized workspaces appears to be gone for good. According to many pundits and prognosticators, organizations will need to offer a hybrid mix of in-office and remote work—or a fully remote workforce in order to compete for tomorrow’s talent.

    Granted WFH has been working, but work from home as made popular by the pandemic may not translate easily to a new hybrid mix of on-site and remote working. Here are some things to consider, even if your teams are in the office now:

    • A plan to pivot to remote work as needed
    • A work-from home policy more flexible than anything offered in the past

    Why?

    I can think of three good reasons.

    1)  Without a strategy for managing and retaining remote employees, your company is at risk. Planning for remote operations is a key part of overall preparedness.  From disease to disasters, many situations make remote work a necessity for days, weeks or as in the case of COVID19—two years. When disaster strikes, a quick and easy transition to remote work can minimize business interruptions and reduce employee stress. Success comes to those companies intentional about creating a work-from-home culture that they can deploy on short notice. Being prepared can help organizations avoid chaos and maintain productivity no matter where their employees are doing their jobs.

    2) Expect candidates to ask about flexible work options for their own needs and to assess how prepared your organization is to pivot in a crisis. A clear plan for transitioning to remote work is a plus in the eyes of job seekers. They don’t want to worry about how you’ll handle the next crisis.

    3) Even when they’re back in the office, employees with experience working remotely may expect more leeway to use technology to accommodate their personal schedules. And, employers that offer such flexibility are in a better position to retain talent.

    Accepting fully remote or hybrid work as the new norm requires a mindset shift on the part of managers and leaders. And, it requires structure, accountability and connection in order to succeed.

    The foundation of a successful remote work policy is built on three elements:

    1. Structure
    2. Accountability
    3. Connectedness

    They’re interrelated, but each plays its own role in supporting remote employees, maintaining innovation and making work from home a success.

    Structure

    Each organization has its own level of need for structure, and perhaps surprisingly, each generation of workers needs different levels of structure to stay productive and creative.

    Multiple studies and surveys have found that Generation Z workers and younger millennials do best with a more structured WFH environment. Structure can also help new hires and young workers build their network at work, something that’s more difficult without face time in the office.

    No matter what age your workforce is, some level of structure is necessary to keep ideas flowing and interpersonal connections growing within your organization.

    Not only do your employee teams need structure, but your leaders need it as well. The goals should be to:

    • Stay connected within and across teams and organization levels.
    • Maintain an open pipeline for sharing ideas and building connections.
    • Help everyone to stay focused and innovative while balancing home responsibilities.

    Much of your structure, in practice, will likely depend on how well your managers implement your plans and make themselves available for their team while they’re out of the office.

    Accountability

    As you think about the best way to manage future changeovers to remote work or optimize your current work-from-home operations:

    • Make sure your managers understand the unique requirements of managing remote employees.
    • Ensure they’re accessible to employees on their teams on an established schedule.
    • Discourage micromanaging, which can reduce employee productivity and morale.

    The goal is to provide structure through regular check-ins, support productivity and foster the sense of connectedness that can be a real challenge for workers at home.

    Connection

    Employees who work from home may still feel connected to their co-workers because they know how to get in touch with their teammates and, one would hope, their managers. However, feeling connected to headquarters, the C-suite and the overall organization can be much more challenging.

    That’s a problem, because when employees don’t feel connected to their employer, they often stop innovating and sharing new ideas – just at a time when companies need to be at their most innovative.

    The new normal is now

    A remote work policy that implements the structure, accountability and communication changes that support optimal remote work and innovation, will make it easier and more successful to transition to the future of work. Because, the future of work is now.
  • March 04, 2022 9:27 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    By Jimmy Taylor 

    After two years of non-stop impact from living pandemic lives, it’s no surprise to hear employees are stressed. A Gallup poll found U.S. workers are among the most stressed in the world, with 57% of our teams reporting they face stress, worry, sadness and anger on the job on a daily basis.

    In fact, stress in the workplace is now so bad even employee assistance program usage is going up. EAP programs have traditionally been one of the most underutilized company benefits offered. Hartford Insurance reports 70% of employers are seeing an uptick in their EAP usage.

    Companies are trying to respond to this employee need. Towers Watson says 86% of employers surveyed indicate helping employees deal with mental health, stress and burnout is a top priority for their organization this year.

    As HR professionals, we see the impact of stress on our teams every day. It motivates us to press on and find ways to help our organizations thrive while still meeting the needs of our people. Those sometimes competing priorities are taking their toll, HR professionals are not immune to the stress of the workplace. A Paychex study showed 70% of HR leaders say this has been the most challenging time in their career.

    What can we do to cope? How can we help our people deal with the stressors?

    There is no magic answer. Workloads will stay elevated. The pace of change will continue to increase. The labor shortage and great resignation will be our constant companions for the coming years. However, we can do simple things that will help.

    Take care of yourself! We can’t effectively help our teams if we fail to address our own needs. The EAP hotline number that we pass out to our employees will answer our calls as well.

    Stay connected. One of the many values of a local SHRM chapter is the camaraderie and support we get from our peers. An African proverb says it well – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others!” We need the interaction, encouragement, and wisdom from fellow practitioners now, more than ever. Make the time to get out and connect, you will see a difference!

    Celebrate the wins. Stopping to celebrate accomplishments, both big and small, is crucial. Stressed individuals are less likely to celebrate accomplishments than others. When we think about and talk about what’s going well our brain rewards us with a shot of dopamine – an important “feel good” chemical. That dopamine serves as a neurotransmitter, sending signals to other neurons that things are good, and all is well. Not only is this good for our body, but it is also an important chemical needed by our brains for hard tasks like creative thinking and problem solving. Being conscious about celebrating interrupts negative spirals of stress and depression.

    Say thank-you! When we are busy and stressed it is hard to take the time to say “thanks”. But physicians and psychologist have endless studies on the positive impact consciously counting our blessings has on our both our mental and physical well-being. It causes us to be more optimistic, enjoy better relationships, sleep better, feel less stress…the list goes on and on.

    Even a simple act of regularly writing down two our three things we are thankful for just before we go to bed in a “gratitude journal” will have a positive and transformative effect.

    What’s more – in this turnover heavy world some have labeled “The Great Resignation” – the simple act of saying thank you may be a key to better employee performance and retention. A recent study of front line health care workers (a group that is facing massive burn-out from the pandemic) published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found some amazing results. The workers who received regular appreciation and gratitude from their patients and their bosses:

    • Were significantly more energized on the job and performed better
    • Were less likely to leave the job
    • Improved their family life by making them better spouses/partners.

    In short, the researchers found small acts of gratitude pay shockingly large dividends for people in the workplace and beyond!

    It’s a stress filled world of work we enter every day. As HR professionals we can make it better!


  • February 15, 2022 9:57 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    The stakes are higher today than they have ever been before regarding executive compensation and the scrutiny imposed by the federal and state governments and the national news media. Negative media reaction and public outcry in cases of executive compensation packages viewed as excessive, regardless as to whether they really are, has set the stage for government regulators, the Internal Revenue Service and State Attorney General Offices to investigate, audit and suppress abuses. As a result of their findings, more federal and state statutes and regulations concerning not-for- profit executive compensation is being enacted.

    Actions taken by State Legislatures and Attorney General Offices in various states, like New Jersey and New York, to limit executive compensation and media reported investigations of not-for-profit organizations to rein in suspected abusive executive compensation practices are acting as a stimulus for even more government regulation. As a result, this is causing many not-for-profit boards across the country to examine their board governance strategies and practices concerning executive compensation and how they will pay their top people in the future.

    So, who oversees and regulates who?

    Many tax-exempt nonprofit organizations such as 501(c)(3) charitable organizations which may include certain foundations, 501(c)(4) Quasi-governmental organizations, 501(c)(14) State Chartered Credit Unions and 501(c)(6) Business and Trade Associations, are:

    · Required to file an annual tax information return – Form 990 or 990EZ depending on the size of the organization

    · Subject to Section 4958 of the Internal Revenue Code regarding Intermediate Sanctions - except for 501(c)(6) Business and Trade Associations and Private Foundations.

    · Subject to Private Inurement requirements

    · Subject to impermissible private benefit transaction rules

    · Under IRS scrutiny for 457 Deferred Compensation Plans

    · Under IRS scrutiny for excessive and unreasonable executive compensation practices

    When reviewing not-for-profit executive compensation, what positions are potentially under scrutiny? Depending on who is scrutinizing whom, the compensation of officers, directors, trustees, key employees, and the highest compensated employees and independent contractors rise to the top of the list.

    Officers typically would include Chief Executive Officers, Presidents, Executive Directors, Sr. Pastors, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Financial Officers and Vice Presidents and/or Key Leadership Employees who have responsibilities like an officer when managing a significant segment or activity for the organization.

    Directors and former directors paid for their serves on the Board are also included. Based on Internal Revenue Service guidelines, compensation paid more than $10,000 per year could put a board director or trustee under the microscope.

    Highly compensated employees can also be on the list when their total compensation exceeds $150,000 as a Key Employee or when one of the top five highest compensated employees other than executives / officers are earning more than $100,000.

    Over the last few years, the Internal Revenue Service has added additional staff to increase its efforts to audit and investigate tax exempt not-for-profit organizations as it looks for excessive and abusive executive compensation practices and programs. And as stated earlier, state legislators, regulators and Attorney Generals have been continually active imposing rules and regulations on the compensation of leaders, directors, trustees and the highly compensated.

    If you are on the Board for a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, you must be concerned about personal liability for participating in approving compensation actions deemed excessive by IRS. Under section 4958 of the Internal Revenue code, the code imposes “Intermediate Sanctions” in the form of excise taxes on “disqualified persons” which include officers, senior leaders, highly compensated, etc. whose organization engages in impermissible and excessive benefit transactions on behalf of them. Section 4958 also penalizes board directors and trustees who knowingly approve excess compensation and/or impermissible benefit transactions. However, please note that (501(c)(6) Business and Trade Associations and Private Foundations are not subject currently to Section 4958 of the IRS code but are subject to Private Inurement Requirements and Excess Benefit Transaction findings. As a result, board directors and trustees of business and trade associations are not personally penalized for knowingly approving excessive compensation and /or impermissible benefit transactions but beware that the (501(c)(6) Business and Trade Associations are still investigated and held liable for excessive compensation and benefits.

    As defined, an impermissible excessive benefit transaction is one in which the economic benefit provided directly or indirectly to a disqualified person exceeds the value received by the organization, including the value from the performance of services. This includes the payment of excessive compensation or an impermissible benefit transaction that is deemed unreasonable.

    Potential penalties for participating in such actions can include:

    • Being personally liable for returning the value of the excess compensation or benefits back to the organization
    • Paying an excise tax of either:
    • 25% of the value of the excessive benefit if returned prior to receiving a deficiency notice from the IRS
    • 200% of the value of the excessive benefit if the benefit or compensation is returned after receiving the IRS deficiency notice

    · Board Director or Trustee liability for approval of an excessive compensation and

    /or benefit transaction:

    • Assessment of a 10% tax on the Director or Trustee who knowingly approves an excessive benefit transaction
    • Liability under section 4958(a)(2) is joint and several and capped at $20,000 per transaction
    • Revocation - Loss of Tax Exemption

    So, what compensation components and economic benefits should be considered to

    determine whether a person’s compensation is reasonable?

    • Base salary
    • Fees
    • Incentive compensation and bonuses – short-term and long-term
    • Retirement benefits
    • Nonqualified deferred compensation plans
    • Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans
    • Health and welfare benefits – medical, dental, life insurance, short-term / long-term disability
    • Other employee benefits – Paid Time Off - where there is a cash value opportunity for cash in or paid at the time of retirement or termination
    • Taxable and nontaxable fringe benefits, except fringe benefits described in section 132 of the tax code
    • Executive benefits and perquisites
    • Expense allowances or reimbursements
    • Housing allowance or residence for personal use
    • Below market loans
    • Foregone interest on loans
    • Moving and relocation expenses
    • Payment of liability and indemnification insurance premiums
    • Severance payments

    In determining whether compensation is reasonable, what factors have been considered by courts and other regulatory agencies?

    • The employer’s compensation philosophy and policy for employees and leaders
    • Comparing compensation for like industries, like business segments, and like employers
    • Utilization of reputable compensation and benefits survey sources and compensation experts to determine the reasonable value of the compensation paid and to be paid and which is sufficient to satisfy the fiduciary responsibility of the governing body to conduct appropriate due diligence. Survey sources may include both taxable and tax-exempt organizations to allow comparisons to similar positions at similarly situated organizations. It is also important to know that when the organization’s staff performs the analysis for the Board on behalf of those executives in the organization that they report to, the organization and the Board run the risk of conflict of interest in discerning executive compensation.
    • This in effect could negate certain government protections – (i.e., The Rebuttable Presumption of Reasonableness) that is created for the Board by performing and executing the due diligence necessary to perform its governance and fiduciary responsibilities.
    • Scope, size, financial position, geographic location and complexity of the

    employer’s business / organization

    • Industry categories (NAICS and SIC Codes) of the employer and like employers
    • Actual written job and compensation offers from similar organizations competing for executive talent
    • The nature of the work being performed and the employee’s qualifications
    • The performance of the employee/executive and the business / operational performance of the organization
    • General economic conditions at the time total compensation are awarded or changed

    When is compensation viewed as reasonable? The fair market value of economic benefits received for the performance of services is considered reasonable compensation, which is the value that would ordinarily be paid for like services by a like enterprise under like circumstances.

    As a Board Director, Church Elder, Trustee, or CEO of a tax-exempt organization, why would you want to consider creating a Rebuttable Presumption of Reasonableness for your organization and will it protect your organization from governmental scrutiny?

    An important governance strategy exists that every organization subject to intermediate sanctions and/or tax-exempt regulatory compliance regarding executive compensation should consider. This strategy is called the Rebuttable Presumption of Reasonableness.

    The basis for creating a “rebuttable presumption” can be found at 26 CFR 53.4958-6 - Rebuttable presumption that a transaction is not an excess benefit transaction.

    In determining the reasonableness of compensation under the Rebuttable Presumption of Reasonableness, compensation is presumed to be reasonable, and a property transfer is presumed to be at fair market value when three requirements for establishing the rebuttable presumption are met. They are:

    1. The compensation arrangement must be approved in advance by an authorized governing body of the applicable tax-exempt organization, which is composed of individuals who do not have a conflict of interest concerning the transaction

    2. Prior to making its determination, the authorized governing body obtained and relied upon appropriate compensation and benefit survey data as to comparability of compensation paid

    3. The authorized governing body adequately and timely documented the basis for its determination for the compensation decisions concurrently with making that determination.

    The documentation of the authorized body should include the terms of the transaction and the date of its approval, the members of the authorized body present during the debate and their vote on the transaction, the comparability data obtained and relied upon, the actions of any members of the authorized body having a conflict of interest, and documentation to support the basis for the determination.

    When done correctly, the Rebuttable Presumption of Reasonableness shifts the burden of proof between the tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization’s governing body and the Internal Revenue Service concerning executive compensation.

    The Internal Revenue Service may refute the presumption of reasonableness only if it develops sufficient contrary evidence to rebut the probative value of the comparability data relied upon by the authorized body. As a result, the practice of creating one lends itself to an excellent governance strategy to follow even if it may not directly affect regulatory compliance of your organization.

    How do we avoid excessive executive compensation and what are some effective business strategies and best practices to follow?

    To ensure that your executive compensation decisions will stand up to the scrutiny of government regulators and agencies, media, and others, you may want to consider adopting some of the following strategies and best practices.

    • Make executive compensation transactions a priority in board / trustee governance meetings
    • Use caution when entering transactions with highly compensated employees and disqualified persons – CEO, Sr. Pastors, Pastor, CFO, COO, President, Executive Director, Vice Presidents, Etc. Be sure to conduct the appropriate due diligence in reviewing market survey data or in hiring a compensation consulting expert to assist in making informed total compensation recommendations and decisions
    • Use the Rebuttable Presumption of Reasonableness procedures to shift the burden of proof to the IRS – Government Agency – Attorney General. This is a tax-exempt accepted practice provided by the Federal Government which could provide your organization with added fire power in the event of an audit or regulatory review.
    • Establish a Board Compensation or HR Committee to create a dedicated review of your compensation actions with members who understand the components of a total compensation strategy and package.
    • Create a customized executive compensation philosophy and policy for the organization. Failure to do so could cause major cost problems that need not occur.
    • Use appropriate and relevant comparable compensation and benefit survey data to conduct a total compensation review for the executive team and highly compensated.
    • Adopt a comprehensive Conflicts of Interest Policy to help protect directors, trustees and officers from liability.
    • Adopt a Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy for all employees and leaders.
    • Use an independent consultant to determine fair market rates for total compensation and benefits. By contracting with a reasoned third-party compensation consulting firm, this will help to ensure impartiality and to avoid any opportunity for a conflict of interest by utilizing in-house sources who report up through organization officers and leadership.
    • Board compensation, if any, should also be reviewed by outside third-party advisors.
    • Be sure to adequately and thoroughly document the basis for any executive or highly compensated compensation transactions and governing body decisions on compensation actions. This would include terms of the approved compensation transaction, date of approval, board/trustee/committee minutes, a thorough description of the expert report on comparability data used to make the decisions including who or how the data was obtained.

    Whether the Board, Trustees, Elders, Leadership, or HR/Compensation Committee is overseeing the due diligence process of annually reviewing the compensation of the organization’s leadership and highly compensated, in the end, it is the board/trustees/elders that carry the legal burden associated with improper compensation. To maintain not-for-profit tax-exempt status and avoid tax penalties, it is incumbent upon the governing body to ensure that leaders and board members (as applicable) are paid fair and reasonable compensation.

    Good governance does not have to be difficult to ensure the payment of fair and reasonable compensation and to satisfy regulatory compliance. However, Board Directors, Trustees, Elders and CEOs / Sr. Pastors must be thoughtful, open to successful board governance strategies and best practices, transparent and consistent in the application of sound and reasonable executive compensation programs to ensure compliance success.

    About the Author:

    Bob Cartwright, SPHR / SHRM-SCP, is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Intelligent Compensation, LLC, a compensation and business management consulting firm located in the greater Austin, Texas area. Since 1996, Mr. Cartwright has managed numerous assignments for a wide variety of clients including those in high technology, manufacturing, services, information technology, health care, retail, construction / facility management, telecommunications, legal, energy, media, publishing, non- profits, public entities, municipalities, financial services, oil and gas, real estate, and aerospace / defense. He has 30+ years of diversified experience in compensation, human resources and business management which includes the development of total compensation strategies, wage and salary plans, executive compensation strategies and studies, incentive compensation plans, and performance management systems.

    Mr. Cartwright’s professional affiliations include Advisor to the State Director / Business Development – Texas Society for Human Resource Management State Council (Texas SHRM); Past Board Chair, Texas Association of Business; SHRM National volunteer; Past Member of the Total Rewards, Compensation, & Benefits National Expertise Panel and National Volunteer Leader on Veteran Employment –Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). He is also a sought-after speaker and is often quoted as a business / compensation expert in newspapers and print media around the country.

    Intelligent Compensation, LLC specializes in conducting executive compensation reviews, audits, and studies for Leadership and Boards of Directors for Nonprofit - Tax-exempt organizations across the U.S. Organizations served include 501(c)(3) Charitable organizations, Churches, State Credit Unions, and Private Foundations; 501(c)(6) Business, Professional, and Trade Associations, Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, and Quasi-Governmental Entities and Authorities; and 501(c)(1) Federal Credit Unions. Intelligent Compensation also provides services to For-Profit companies in most every industry and our analysts and consultants provide our clients with over 35 years of experience in creating personalized business strategies, practical ideas, and customized business solutions to organizations who want to maximize their operational performance and organizational effectiveness through strategically aligned, performance-based compensation programs, and sound compensation and business management practices.


  • December 01, 2021 10:29 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)


    By Bruce W. Waller

    One of the questions I enjoy asking HR Leaders on Life in the Leadership Lane podcast is “what would your 10-year older self say to you if he or she was knocking at the door today and you got up to answer that door”? This is such a great reflection question because it allows you to look ahead and think about where you are going, dream ahead, or give your current situation perspective. One of my favorites was when I was interviewing Global Total Reward Leader Andrew Walker on podcast episode 84. When I asked Andrew this question, he responded with “buy a boat” (these are my words). He said his 10-year-old self would say, “stop thinking about when you’re done working in your career and find things that bring you joy today”. He shared how he would visit summer beaches in Connecticut and would see boats going back and forth and thought I am not going to wait until I retire to enjoy life. He then went on to say, “Yes, we all need to work hard, but we also need to find things that bring us joy.” This was so inspiring!

    I have received many responses from guests over the pasts two years that have shared things that energized them just like Andrew. I have also paused when people stopped to reflect and found themselves crying tears of gratitude. It can be a deep reflecting point for anyone. Many guests have shared their 10-year older self would say stop worrying, or remind them it’s going to be okay. A few have shared to continue the journey, keep the faith, or you’re on the right path, and to keep growing.

    It’s a great question and would be a great team exercise too. The reason it’s so powerful is because it is often the little things, we do each day that brings the most movement and change. But because it’s so little, it’s hard to see positive daily results. We often can’t see that we are making progress or impact when we get up early to go for a run or read a few pages in a book or help a colleague or customer solve a problem. When we ask this question, it gets people to think about their career, and more importantly their life. Are you doing things in your life that bring you joy?

    As we move into the Christmas holiday and our chapter/association planning season, invest time to reflect on this question. What will your 10-year older self-share with you? Who do you want to be in 10 years? Are you on track as a volunteer leader? In my new book Life in the Leadership Lane, I shared my response… “I think my 10-year older self would tell me that he is proud of the person I have become in the workplace and most importantly, in my personal life. He would also say, “Keep going, keep growing, keep connecting, and keep serving others. You have important work ahead.”

    So, what’s your boat? What is the thing that will bring you more joy as a volunteer leader? You may already have it and people just need to hear it… Write it down and share with your board and members of the chapter… I am excited for you, for your career, and for your chapter because when we have joy in our career, life is just better in every area!

    Quote of the Day: “…it’s not about the things we want to achieve, it’s about the person we want to be. (Excerpt from Life in the Leadership Lane)

    Call to Action: Write down the question and your response. Share with your team for engagement. It will be fun and might inspire someone to make a change, which can ultimately change the organization too!  

    Exciting Texas SHRM news ahead… be on the lookout for LEADHRS Leadership Development program announcement coming December 2021. Your 10 year older self will thank you for being part of this program and elevating your leadership in your association and workplace!  

    This blog is written by Bruce Waller, Texas SHRM, Director of Leadership Development! For more information, call 972-389-5673, or email bwaller@goarmstrong.com.


  • November 01, 2021 9:48 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    The truth?  The truth is that I struggled to write this blog. 

    As an attorney, an enormous part of my job is writing.  I’m expected to write persuasively with well thought out and well-reasoned arguments.  In my particular practice, education is a focal point.  I speak regularly to clients, at chapter events, and at conferences.  Outside of my practice, I volunteer in various leadership roles.  This blog should have been a breeze.  Yet, I struggled.

    I struggled because I wanted to impart some earth shattering, groundbreaking, never-before-seen-or-heard-of knowledge.  I wanted you, dear reader, to be awestruck.  I wanted you to finish the last word, pick your jaw up off the floor, and whisper “wow” as you struggled to focus on anything else for the day.  But why?  Sure, lawyers have egos and I suppose I’m not that much different.  But that wasn’t the real reason.  The real reason is that you matter and you’re important and I wanted to be an invaluable resource. 

    So, I struggled. 

    As I stared at the blank Word document on my computer screen and the blinking cursor for what seemed like an eternity, it finally occurred to me that this wasn’t me.  I don’t have to be the next John Maxwell or Brene Brown.  I just have to be Dustin Paschal…and that’s good enough.

    Far too often, we try to be something we’re not; and the countless self-help and leadership books don’t help.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a voracious reader…particularly of leadership-style books.  I believe they are an invaluable resource; but we must remember that the books are meant to be a guide – something to help us on our individual journey and with our individual growth.  When we try to emulate the principles and concepts outlined in these books to the point that we essentially become a carbon copy, we most certainly fail.  You are not John Maxwell.  You are not Brene Brown.  But it is admirable and worthy to aspire to be like them. 

    As a young lawyer in my first real job, I thought that to be a good lawyer, I needed to be just like my boss.  My boss was a Black man from Ohio that had gone to Duke University and Duke University School of Law.  He had worked in a major regional law firm to which he had been recruited straight out of law school.  He was the son of divorced parents, one of whom was a mental health professional.  I was a white man from Texas that had done to Baylor University and Baylor University School of Law.  My first job was working at a 1-man law firm, and I struggled to find a job out of law school.  I was the son of happily married parents, one an office administrator and one a firefighter.  Our commonality was the law, but our lives and backgrounds were vastly different.  As I stepped into courtrooms and stood before crowds at conferences, I failed every time I tried to copy the style, mannerisms, and cadence my boss utilized.  I failed when I mimicked his preparation.  In short, I failed because I wasn’t myself.

    The instant I decided to let go of the “right way” to be a lawyer and decided to be the lawyer that was right for me, I began to excel.  The fears and the anxieties melted away when the comfort of being authentic took over.  Juries and audiences began to respond favorably.  My authentic self was much more casual; my boss was much more formal.  My authentic self involved phrases, terminology, and quips I had heard over a lifetime of growing up in Texas; my boss had no idea what most of those expressions meant.  My authentic self involved leading with my heart and becoming personally invested (right or wrong) in most of my cases; my boss maintained a professional distance.  My style wasn’t right for my boss and his style wasn’t right for me.  Yet, both styles worked.

    Authenticity is everything – not only for your personal success but also for your success as a leader. 

    Authenticity breeds trust. 

    Authenticity breeds passion.

    Authenticity breeds loyalty.

    Authenticity breeds success. 

    I challenge you in everything you do and in every place you lead…be authentic.

    Written by Dustin A. Paschal

  • October 04, 2021 9:52 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    By Holly Novak 

    As we all know, burnout is REAL and it’s impacting us at work, in our Chapters, and in our families. While there is not one easy or simple solution, we can help our people – our volunteers, employees, friends, peers, family members – recognize some behaviors and understand the root cause of burnout to hopefully move the needle the other direction!

    Purpose and connection are fundamental needs for all humans and our distributed world has taken much of that away from us and now we find ourselves in front of a camera or computer screen for way too many hours a day with no solid people interaction. Indeed did a recent study and found that 52% of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021—up from the 43% who said the same in Indeed’s pre-Covid survey. 

    Before we move to solutions, it’s helpful to determine what burnout actually is! According to the World Health Organization, burnout is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

    1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;

    2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and

    3) a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

    While we can all find our selves down and maybe stressed for a day, burnout goes beyond that to a full state of exhaustion and detachment. So, how can we help those that find themselves in this state? I suggest that we start with Purpose. It’s time to take a collective action on purpose – not just making blanket statements. In our post COVID world, purpose matters more than ever before. People want to know the WHY behind your organization and how you are differentiated in the market. They also want to know how their work impacts both the overall company/association as well as the communities they live.

    Next, help your people to set boundaries and make time to think, tend to their loved ones, learn, and breathe. Encourage them to add it to their calendars and if you are a leader, add it to yours first and set the example! Extra time off might not always be the answer because the work is still there, and that does not alleviate the stress! Instead, maybe institute a “no meeting” or “no camera” day of the week and give them that chance to take a walk, go to lunch with a friend, etc.

    Finally, help people to understand and set priorities! Give them the permission to ask questions and determine what things they should put their focus on. Also encourage them to pick one or two things a day to prioritize and check something off their list each day – that gives a sense of accomplishment which is a very powerful tool against burnout.

    Quote of the Day: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…Including you.” Anne Lamott

    Call to Action: I challenge each of you to help your people understand what burnout truly is, then focus on ways to help each individual that finds themself with some of the symptoms above to find their purpose and also find time to breathe and walk away each day.

  • September 02, 2021 9:22 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    By Bruce W. Waller

    One of the most common things we do to prioritize and stay organized is make lists. Lists are a great way to keep us on track. People make many lists such as grocery lists, project lists, to-do lists, and more. It’s a great way for us to remember the things we need to do each day. It is also a great way to feel like we are accomplishing things by crossing things off the list once completed. In fact, some people like the feeling so much that when they do something and notice it wasn’t on the list, they will write it down just to mark it off to feel that sense of accomplishment! Have you ever done this? I am raising my hand!! And the more we do or more we try to achieve, the more things we will add to our lists. We are constantly trying to keep it up to date so we can stay on track. It can often feel overwhelming when we keep adding to our lists, and often creates challenges to stay focused on the things that matter most.

    I recently read a story in the book GRIT by Angela Duckworth talking about the self-made multibillionaire Warren Buffet. She was sharing the story about Warren Buffet’s conversation with his personal pilot. Warren was asking the pilot if he had any bigger dreams that flying him around all over the world. The pilot responded that he did have dreams and Warren shared three things he could do to achieve his dreams. This is a great way to get clarity and focus. Here are the 3 things he shared:

    • 1.      Write down a list of 25 career goals or dreams.
    • 2.      Circle the 5 highest priority goals or dreams for that moment.  
    • 3.      Cross out the other 20 – they are the distractions!

    When I read this, it reminded me of my year-end planning, and how I start with a list of goals and narrow it down to my top 3. This year it was to achieve my business plan, design a leadership development program for Texas SHRM, and publish a book. It helps me stay focused and clear on where I spend my time each day. Clarity is the key for us as individuals and for our organizations. It a driving force for success. DallasHR, the 3rd largest SHRM chapter in the country located in Dallas, Texas does this by placing strategic boards in the conference room to help everyone with clarity on long term goals. Armstrong Relocation focuses on four things and shares with all of the operating companies across the US. So, it doesn’t have to be 5 things, it can be less --- it just needs to be clear.

    I recently heard a John Maxwell interviewing Jeff Henderson, author of the book FOR on The John Maxwell Podcast where John shared a story about walking into his organization and asking all of the leaders to take out a blank piece of paper and write down what they think the organization is known for. He then picked up the papers with answers and started reading them out loud. He had 12 pieces of paper with 12 different responses. He then said, this is why we can’t get momentum. There was no clarity around the mission or what was most important. So, we are going to list these 12 and narrow it down to what’s most important and focus on that!

    So how do get started in our organization? Start by using the exercise that Warren Buffet shared with his pilot. When you have your 5 things, write them down and share for clarity.

    YES or NOT YET?

    Earlier this year, I learned another strategy to help stay focused from author and financial expert David Bach. It’s the “Yes and Not Yet” list. The “yes list” will include the 5 (or 4 or 3) things you decide to focus on and the “not yet list” will capture everything else – a continuous list. The reason to capture the “not yet list” items is that we don’t want to lose the idea,  but know we can’t move anything to the “yes list” until we take something away. It’s a great way to stay focused on our goals and dreams and our everyday. More importantly, it creates clarity when someone asks what we are doing, or when we are trying to decide if we should invest time or decline something to stay on track!

    So, what’s your strategy to keep everyone focused with clarity in your organization? It’s time to meet with your team and ask – what are we focused on? See if you get the same answers or if you need to narrow it down for everyone to create more clarity, which create momentum and ultimately lead you to success!

    Quote of the Day: “If you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?” Michael Bungay Stanier

    Call to Action: Take out a blank piece of paper and get your personal top 5… then go to your team of leaders in your organization to create your top 5 for more clarity and watch your organization move forward.  

    This blog is written by Bruce Waller, Texas SHRM, Director of Leadership Development! For more information, call 972-389-5673, or email bwaller@goarmstrong.com

  • August 03, 2021 10:36 AM | Dena A Culpepper (Administrator)

    The Problem with the Manager Mindset
    Mike Coffey, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

    For an upcoming episode of my new podcast, Good Morning, HR, I visited with Terri Swain, a seasoned HR consultant who specializes in affirmative action and employee relations issues.

    (Note: “Seasoned” is a moving target meaning anyone who is at least one day older than me.)

    Terri and I spoke about her experience as an investigator during the pandemic.

    Through the pandemic, she said, she saw a sharp spike in discrimination complaints against managers. Very often, comparative analysis demonstrated that the behavior wasn’t discriminatory—the manager was a jerk (we use stronger language in the podcast) to everyone.

    While Terri’s episode of the podcast won’t be released until August 12th, it is hardly a spoiler to point out that, well, most managers suck when it comes to actually managing people.

    And when things get rough, that becomes really apparent.

    Back at the beginning of the pandemic, when employees were hurriedly throwing files and equipment necessary to do their jobs in boxes, learning to use Zoom (“Bob, you’re still on mute.”), and figuring out how to get their jobs done while educating their children and spending waaay to much time with their significant others, I participated in a panel discussion about managing a remote workplace.

    My prediction was that those organizations with highly-engaged employees would be fine while those that “managed” their employees in order to maintain productivity would struggle.

    Perhaps your experience has been different but that is largely what I’ve seen over the last year and a half.

    To manage something is to manipulate it so as to reach a predictable outcome.

    When we tell someone their job is to manage people, we assume that people are like the rest of means of production: equipment, raw material, energy, etc.

    But people aren’t so predictable.

    Greg Crabtree, author of one of the best books on business finance, Simple Numbers, often says that people are the one part of your business that shows up every day with an attitude.

    Some days it may be a good attitude. Others, not so good.

    But unlike the melting temperature of iron ore, the reliability of a proven piece of code, or the certainty that the debits will balance out the credits, people are unpredictable.

    They have lives—inside and outside of their workday.

    They have years of unique experiences that have shaped who they are and how they respond to different stimuli.

    They have wide variability in their physical and chemical compositions.

    They have different—and often unfathomable or surprising—priorities in their lives.

    And you think your going to “manage” that hot mess of humanity with any success or predictability?

    It is no wonder that many people who are called managers are jerks and that even more of them are ineffective at actually managing people.

    Here’s the truth: you can’t effectively manage people.

    None of us can.

    People are too messy to be managed.

    So why do we call people who are charged with leading other people toward a common goal “managers?”

    As soon as we give someone the title “Manager,” we’re setting them—and those they are to manage—up for failure.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a giant believer in the ability of good leaders to bring people together to create value for shareholders, customers, and the community.

    I value accountability and swear by meaningful scorecards.

    But good leaders aren’t managers of people.

    They are coaches.

    They build teams of individuals who are intrinsically motivated to achieve a common goal.

    They incentivize those teams to succeed with neither carrot nor stick but with work that has purpose and meaning.

    They set high expectations and then help their people achieve them.

    They empathize when people stumble.

    They celebrate the small victories.

    They recognize and grow their team members’ potential, giving them room to try, fail, and try again.

    They understand that employees don’t put their life on hold when they come to work.

    And they treat each person a little differently because, well, each person is a little different.

    The successful leaders I’ve worked with over my career weren’t people managers—they were people enablers. They gave people (or helped them find) what they needed to be successful in their roles and in their lives.

    It is time to retire the manager mindset when it comes to people.

    Our leaders and our people deserve better.

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