Having worked sourcing talent for more than 10 years, and also having worked in both corporate and small business environments, I have seen there is a lot of consistency to the way in which people are rewarded for doing well. Whilst my conclusions are primarily drawn from the insurance and recruitment sectors, I think that parallels can be drawn across financial services, and possibly in to other industries as well.
I have seen many examples of successful business producers, be they underwriters or brokers, rewarded for doing a good job (i.e. generating income for their employer), by being promoted to a position of greater responsibility. Let me be clear, I mean greater responsibility in that they now have to manage a team or lead a division. So, having proven that they can generate income and profit (and the two don't always go hand in hand), they are now moved away from the coal face and tasked with managing people.
Why? Is this down to some misguided belief that proof of success is climbing higher up the corporate ladder? Should everyone be aiming to be on an Executive Board with responsibility for hundreds of staff??
Too many organisations have limiting corporate rewards structures that will only allow you to progress so far unless or until you take on a managerial role. Should businesses not provide continuing development for their best business producers without stopping them from doing what they are best at? And also reward them for continuing to be the best.
In several of the organisations I have recruited for (large and small, good and... less good), they have pre-set salary bands for particular types of employee - no matter how good a job they do, they can't progress beyond a particular salary level unless they do something different. They might be the most technically gifted actuary, the most charismatic and successful broker, the most highly regarded and sought after underwriter, but unless they suddenly take on a leadership role they are at a ceiling.
Should we not laud people simply for being the best at what they do, and if they are happy doing it, let them know that's all they ever need to do? It might lead to a happier, more fulfilled, and successful workforce. Alternatively we could put them in to positions they aren't equipped for, watch them flounder, and undermine their reputation...