A compensation model to reward what we value most

Emma Forsgren

Emma Forsgren

Finally, a new compensation model!

Ever since I joined, Doings, I’ve had a nagging feeling, something that just didn’t fit right. My unease revolved around our compensation model and how it failed to align with our values.

From day one, we’ve fostered an exceptional culture, with clear values, outstanding collaboration and sky-high engagement. Moreover, we’ve been guided by our beacon of LEVA – balancing work and life sustainably over time. We prioritize well-being over financial results (though when necessary, we do focus on financial outcomes).

The issue lies in the fact that, somewhat inadvertently, our compensation model hasn’t mirrored the culture and values we hold dear. Essentially, we’ve had a compensation model that, in theory, incentivizes behaviors diametrically opposed to those we aspire to. Foolish? Absolutely, and somewhat embarrassing too.

The cobbler’s children

We’re masters of change management for goodness’ sake! Daily, we assist our clients in creating the best conditions to activate desired behaviors within their organizations. One of these conditions involves removing organizational obstacles so that culture, structure, and behaviors are synchronized and aligned.

Instead, we, like many reputable consultancy firms out there, have operated under a commission-based model. The more an individual bills, the more they earn. Working an extra project on the weekend (farewell to LEVA) is rewarded on the 25th. Opting not to help a colleague grants more time for personal billing. I must add, though it’s rarely if ever happened, it’s certainly ripe for occurrence. Additionally, this has resulted in a slew of tedious administrative tasks, such as monthly “who did what” reckonings. Such tasks can easily dampen the spirits of even the most enthusiastic team players.

Structuring for growth

So, our compensation model hasn’t bred undesirable behaviors. We owe that to our magical culture and incredibly talented and committed team of doers. But what happens as we expand? The larger we grow, the more vital these structures become, clarifying the culture we espouse and wish to cultivate. What about during challenging times? That’s when structure becomes especially crucial, guiding us in the behaviors we want to foster.

Indeed, we have structures that guide us clearly. We have our fundamental principles that steer us every day. We have an explicit goal to be capped at 75% utilization to allow time for everything else – self-development, packaging our services, team building, balancing life and logistics, and so on. So far, so good! Now, we just need to reflect this in our compensation model too.

Team before self

Something had to be done! Every day, we live by the motto of making things happen, to stop talking and start doing. To test, evaluate, iterate, and get it right. But when it comes to our personal finances, it’s crucial to respect the need for thorough anchoring of any change. It’s about careful consideration, calculation, and discussion beforehand. It’s not just a matter of flipping a switch.

We were on the brink of implementing changes a year ago. Then, a little thing called a pandemic demanded all our attention. But today, I’m bursting with pride to announce that Doings has bid adieu to individual commissions! As of February 1st, we now have a clearer base salary and a team-based commission. It’s tied to our collective performance, not individual billing. Naturally.


But why have a commission-based salary at all, you might wonder? Isn’t that an outdated tool from the sales world and a time when it was believed that the more you paid, the more engaged employees you’d get? That may be the case sometimes. But for an entrepreneurial, unpredictable consultancy like ours, where costs, success, and revenue are entirely linked to each employee, it’s a good way to create a win-win-win scenario. What benefits the client benefits Doings, which benefits the employee. It’s a means to share both risk and success. It makes our work more enjoyable and strengthens us as a team even further.

The new compensation model makes it even clearer that what we build together is thanks to everyone’s contributions. Therefore, success should benefit everyone. Plus, it makes celebrating success a bit more fun. And we believe in celebrating as often as possible!

Next steps

What obstacles do you face that need clearing to truly let your culture and purpose soar? Do you need help thinking outside the box? Do you want to bounce ideas about change projects in general or incentive structures and compensation models, in particular? Reach out, and let’s grab a coffee 😊



Blog two out of two in this series is available to read here –  Iit’s about the basis on which we set salaries. We’ve defined a clear expectation of contributing to the culture – living what we preach – and have based one-third of the base salary on just that.

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