Goldman Sachs can’t seem to stay out of the wrong spotlight these days. With reports about executive layoffs and high numbers of senior people leaving, Goldman is losing its once-untouchable luster as analysts scrutinize its performance through a new lens.
The oceanic rift between average Wall Street salaries and those of everybody else has been measured by both public and private facilities. The New York State Comptroller’s office released a report last October showing that while total profits at Wall Street’s major brokerage houses declined during the first half of 2011, employee compensation, which accounts for about 60 percent of expenses for the firms, increased by 18.7 percent compared with the same period the year before.
The report showed the average salary in the securities industry was $361,330 in 2010. The national average wage that year was $45,230, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A big difference was that while many suffered unemployment and pay freezes during the recessionary years, finance firms rewarded employees with raises. According to a survey by eFinancialCareers.com that polled 2,860 financial professionals, 54 percent were offered higher salaries in 2011.
All this points to executives on Wall Street, who have been conditioned to dangle a carrot on a stick, believing they can motivate employees with more money, more incentives and skills training to achieve great results. These elements cannot be ignored, but neither are they sufficient in and of themselves to lead these massive institutions. Managers who lead with bottom-line accountability alone are leading wrong.
A view of accountability that concentrates just on the end results should not be the only focus of leadership. In some cases, focusing only on results can have an adverse effect. To truly have an impact on employee performance, leaders need look no further than their company culture.