I'm having a hard time figuring out how to write this and not have it come across as whining because it concerns my personal bonus, or lack thereof. I decided to share this because it's just another micro example of how American business doesn't always operate in good faith towards the people it employs.
I'm a believer in incentive (bonus) programs not just for managers but for years I've been pushing the company to adopt some sort of profit sharing plan for staff. If they're structured correctly and tied to performance I believe they provide the company with engaged, satisfied staff.
The incentive program I participate is pretty standard. Basically I'm given a numerical rating on a quarterly basis. This rating is a combination of employee and customer satisfaction and performance against budget. If my numerical rating is mid to low against those factors then I don't qualify for a bonus.
If I'm an dick of a boss and have a bunch of employees leave then I won't qualify for a bonus. If I have really unhappy staff and that's reflected on employee feedback surveys then I won't qualify for a bonus. If I lose customers or customers are unhappy with our product or service then I won't qualify for a bonus. If I don't beat the company's top and bottom line financial goals for my book of business then I really, really won't qualify for a bonus.
On paper it's a pretty good plan. You can see how managing to that plan forces me to be a better manager and not take anything, or anyone for granted.
In 2007 the company tweaked the plan. Apparently corporate didn't like the unexpected allocations for bonuses that would pop up (they don't like financial surprises) so they decided to take money out of your book of business to set aside for any bonuses you may qualify for. A line titled "performance sharing" appeared on my profit and loss statements and a dollar amount based on a percentage my salary was set aside from my total revenue each month on this line.
This had it's obvious downside for managers. The financial goals for an incentive now became that much harder as your numerical rating was figured after all of those line items, including "performance sharing" were subtracted from your overall revenue. They were slyly making it harder to score a bonus.
In 2008 they tweaked the plan again. This time they indexed manager's numerical ratings against their region. This means you could have a great quarter but not see a penny if the other managers in the region were boneheads who didn't know how to run their businesses. Their excuse was that this would encourage "teamwork" but that idea is laughable. I have nothing to contribute to accounts in Seattle or San Francisco in terms of personnel and vice versa.
This had the desired effect of putting bonuses out of reach of even the best performing managers, myself included. My feeling was something akin to "Whatever. I'm lucky to have this job. At least the site financials will look even better."
Yet, they continued to take "performance sharing" dollars out of my account like clockwork. I had assumed that they would just pay that unused chunk of bonus cash back into the account at the end of the year when they closed the books. I kept checking my financials for this big block of cash, now totalling over $7000 to show up. Of course it never did.
This week I had a conversation with my manager and asked him where this money went. He flew into a rant. Apparently we've already identified and complained about this with corporate and were met with the hand. Apparently that "performance sharing" is meant for somebody else to share and is not to be questioned.
To sum up: the company takes money out of my book of business to cover a potential cash incentive for me, the very act of taking this money out makes it harder for me to achieve that incentive so they don't have to pay it, when I fail to achieve the incentive they keep that money without an explanation rather put it back into my business.
Why, it's almost like they're stealing it.
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