Monday, May 30, 2005

Where's My Bonus?

If you've looked around my little blog world at all, you know what I do for a living; I'm a Retail Store Manager. I haven't -- and don't intend to -- reveal the company I work for, for the purpose of protecting the company from scorn and protecting myself from the company.

If you've ever spent any time working in Retail Management, you are probably aware that most Retail companies offer
bonuses to their Managers. The purpose, of course, is to incentivize their Managers to constantly improve performance. The ulterior motive, I think, is to say that the bonus is considered a portion of the compensation package and to therefore pay a lower annual salary. The best of the best make a killing while the rest get by on peanuts.

Recently, it was bonus time at my company. I won't go into too many details about the bonus program, as it might reveal to some the company I'm speaking of and, to those in the company who know me, possibly my own identity. Suffice it to say that bonuses at my company are paid for improving certain performance measures of the store over the previous year. That is, in fact, the way many Retailers calculate bonuses for their Managers. In this case, however, there has been a lot of change lately in the company that has caused a great deal of confusion about how bonuses are to be calculated, who is to qualify for bonuses, and when they are to be paid.

Some of those questions were answered recently, while others remain completely unaddressed. Bottom line: of five Managers in my location, only one received a bonus -- the lowest man on the bonus-earning totem pole. A man who could not have possibly earned his bonus if not for the support of the rest of the Management team. A man who contributes the least to the overall performance of the store team.

Frustrated? You bet! To this day, no one has informed us exactly how our performance was evaluated to determine whether we qualify for a bonus or not. I first received the biggest joke of a Profit and Loss Statement that I have ever seen in nearly twelve years in Retail Management, accompanied by a message that bonuses would be arriving that day for Managers who earned them. No indication of who those Managers would be, and no real explanation of what the very-abbreviated, very-changed P&L Statement meant.

I'm no idiot. I have been managing Retail Business using a P&L Statement for many years, and consider myself to be one of the best among my peers. But this was no real P&L Statement. This was more of a bulleted list of whatever numbers the number-crunchers felt would justify their determinations of whom to pay and whom not to pay.

No, I did not receive a bonus -- with an average of $10,000 increased sales per month over 2004, I did not receive a bonus. I'm not
bitter, just greatly disappointed. Of the five major Retailers that I have worked for in my career, only one of them actually had a bonus program that presented the Managers with a realistically achievable bonus that actually paid out month after month, year after year. If they have no intention of paying a bonus, or if they plan to manipulate the numbers (which is what I believe happened in this case, as less than five percent of the Managers in my District were paid a bonus) to avoid paying bonuses, then they shouldn't try to sell us on the idea that they are part of our total compensation package. Just pay me what I'm worth and quit trying to sweeten the pot with false promises.

What do you think?


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