The Wall Street Journal reports today that Proctor and Gamble has chosen to overhaul its bonus system for managers. According to the newspaper,
"Starting Friday, annual bonuses for thousands of senior managers will be tied more directly to the performance of each leader’s specific business unit instead of being based on the company’s broader, regional operations. “We are trying to get a clearer line of sight between an individual’s responsibilities and their results and their compensation,” Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said this week in an interview.
P&G has been trying to reduce bureaucracy, give managers more autonomy to make key decisions for their units, and hold people more accountable for results. This compensation system change fits with those other efforts. You should not tie compensation more directly to a specific unit's performance unless you provide the unit manager with a sufficient level of autonomy to make important decisions.
We should keep in mind, however, that no compensation system is perfect. Diversified firms, in particular, always face a tension between tying compensation to local unit performance vs. the results of large segments or even the corporation as a whole. One the one hand, you want people to realize the benefits of managing their units effectively. On the other hand, related diversifiers such as P&G want managers to cooperate with the heads of other units so as to realize important synergies. The risk of this latest move for P&G is that managers may become too parochial, not thinking enough about how to collaborate with other units to achieve economies of scope.