Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You're walking around blind without a cane, pal. A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.

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.


Arkonbey said...

Man. I almost had it until the summary, now I'm totally confused. However, I'm guessing that I should be outraged, so I will be. Or at least indignant. ;

We got bought out by a Canadian company last year and they've been pretty good with bonuses. In addition to incentive bonuses, they have a $5000 Employee of the Year deal (voted on by every employee).

Dean Wormer said...


Yeah, it's hard to explain. I'm getting screwed is the important thing I was trying to get across. Bastards.

I wonder if the canucks will buy my company. Pretty please.

Don Snabulus said...

This year, they will raise the amount 10% and change the name to Managerial Surcharge without even the pretense that you could have ever somehow earned something from it.

In 2010, they will claim that a bonus had been built into your pay all along, but due to regional underperformance they will have to deduct for it.

[Catch 22]Then they will raise the number of missions to ship out of the war to 70.[/Catch 22]

Ubermilf said...

That's slimy even by corporate standards.

Randal Graves said...

I think this is all a scam, or possibly scamola, to cover up your crappiness as a manager, Mr. Closet Republican.

Seriously - don't laugh - I really cannot fathom how you dudes and chicks work in the private sector without going on multi-state killing sprees. Sure, all places have their forms of fuckery, and we have plenty of dumbasses that step into the library, but no one takes money out of our pocket until/unless we get laid off.

Have you thought about slicking your hair back like Gordon Gekko?

Ubermilf said...

I came back because I'm still all sorts of pissed off.

It's true that other people have it worse, and that people in third world countries don't have clean water or wood floors or a goat tied up in the backyard purely for entertainment purposes, but...

That does not change the fact that this is unfair bullshit.

Ubermilf said...

(I don't mean to insinuate anything with the "goat tied up... purely for entertainment purposes.)

Dean Wormer said...


I think you have it right. I was going to riff on your comment and say "soon I'll be paying THEM a bonus" but I realized I already am.


Yep. But it's not that unusual. I have buddies at competing companies and when we get together our stories sound amazingly alike.


Seriously - don't laugh - I really cannot fathom how you dudes and chicks work in the private sector without going on multi-state killing sprees. Sure, all places have their forms of fuckery, and we have plenty of dumbasses that step into the library, but no one takes money out of our pocket until/unless we get laid off.

Yeah, it is pretty amazing when you step back and look at it. Part of it is probably what you point out in that people are afraid of the economy so they don't bitch about it. Part of it is that people are simply conditioned to think government=bad, corporation=good. The matter of fact way managers talk about company screwings of us and other employees behind closed doors is frightening in itself.

When you break it down what's really frustrating about it is that they change the rules when they want to benefit themselves. Assholes.


Yeah, I didn't want to come across as whiny. I'm lucky to have a job and it's a good job. My clients are great. I don't dread going to work in the morning.

What motivated me to bring up some corporate bullshit I've seen firsthand is all the talk this last few weeks about how great the free market is. There is no honor in business any more.

Goats don't mind being tied up as long as it's close to fresh blackberries. How they eat that stuff is amazing.

Pix for you of Little Joe on my 1000th post looming. :)

Fran said...

Holy crap. I have not been here in awhile and I am sorry to hear this tale o' corporate woe.

You do not sound like you are whining to me.

This is one of the reasons I had to leave the corporate life behind and while I make almost nothing as a church secretary, I must admit to being happy.

That is not the solution for all. Shit, it is not really the solution for me as my husband and I worry about money and my "happiness" comes into play.

This kind of "trickle up" economics is ruining companies. It is such bullshit.

It was not that many years ago that this sort of thing started to happen at the company that I worked at. Now I was at a level in which it did not impact me that much - the folks at the top look after themselves. That is something that always disgusted me as a senior manager and something I often brought up at meetings.

Anyway, the folks who worked for me, who worked so hard were about to find themselves in a situation not unlike your own. It was one of the worst moments of my executive life to have to deliver that bad news.

And we wonder why American business is in trouble? I have no doubt that you are able as both manager and employee and yet you are screwed and rather roughly at that.

I am very sorry Dean. This sucks.

Sorry for the long comment. I just feel so angry when I see things like this.

Life As I Know It Now said...

it is awful what they are doing to you and yet they act like they are doing it for YOUR benefit? I don't think you are whining and I would complain up a storm about it if it were me.

Mauigirl said...

Typical corporate shenanigans - totally unfair. As FranIam said, the top levels look after themselves. My whole career has been spent at big corporations (really the same one through several takeovers and selloffs). I remember back in the recession of 1992 business was bad so they had a freeze on our salaries - no raises that year. But guess what? The big shots still got bonuses! When business was bad and they told us they couldn't afford our raises! That still irks me to this day.

Dean Wormer said...


I'd like to thank you for the long comment so please don't apologize.

I almost get the feeling that upper management is schizophrenic. They occasionally do good things for the employees only to sort of realize that those things cost money then they take 'em away.

I can only imagine what bad news you had to deliver. I've had to fire more people than I can count but in almost every case they deserved it. It wasn't due to layoffs or anything.


I did complain but was essentially told to drop it by my boss, even though he agreed it was unfair. It sounds like our regional office already threw a fit and were shut down hard. It's worse than the goverment that way.


But guess what? The big shots still got bonuses! When business was bad and they told us they couldn't afford our raises!

That's what chaps me about the BofA bonuses. It's one thing if your company is doing well but it's another thing altogether if you're horrible at your job and you're stil being rewarded.

Dr. Zaius said...

Don't feel too bad. They are stealing from the customers as well!

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