Bonus season is about three months away for my company, which means that there is just enough time to plan and execute my strategy for ensuring that I receive my annual bonus in full.
Last October me and my team were placed under a new boss, and come December I received a nasty shock. My new boss gave me an outstanding evaluation, but only gave me 80% of my annual bonus. She explained her decision as follows: "As far as I am concerned, only God is perfect, therefore no one on my team is getting 100% of their bonus". Last year, I decided not to protest this absurd and obnoxious position. I felt that it would be a better long term strategy to build a stronger relationship with my boss and to prove my worth to her, before getting into any major battles. However, I hated and resented that decision and even more so I hated the rationale that my boss used to justify it.
This year, I fully intend to receive 100% of my bonus. Here is my strategy for achieving this goal:
1. Review my MBOs - Management by Objective (or MBO) is a favorite HR buzz term around Silicon Valley these days. It works as follows: early on in the year you receive from your boss a list of objectives that you must achieve. If you achieve those targets you get your bonus. I received my MBO papers in May, but I believe that I am well on track to achieving or exceeding all of my goals. In the next week I will make sure. I will review my MBO document in detail and will immediately tackle any deficiencies I discover.
2. Focus on What Counts - My philosophy is that in the employer-employee relationship, money speaks louder than words. It's fine to tell me that some task is high-priority, but if it's not in my MBOs, it's probably not that important. After all, if it were that critical wouldn't it be listed as a major objective for the year?
Before I do anything else, I make sure that MBO activities are at least at 100% of where they need to be to ensure achievement of my targets.
3. Obtain Buy In - it doesn't really matter what I think that I achieved, or for that matter, it doesn't even matter what I actually achieved. All that matters for the purpose of my MBOs is what my boss believes that I achieved. For that reason, it is my intention to go through my MBO list with my boss. Understand what she thinks I have already achieved and what tasks are not complete in her mind. I will also present to her all the activities and successes that I have delivered so far this year.
It doesn't help me to find out whether my boss thinks I achieved my goals at my annual review. That is too late. The bonus decision will already have been made. Nope. If my goal is to ensure 100% bonus this year, I must understand her thoughts and feelings about my performance while there is still time to do something about them.
4. Clarify My Position - it is now time to tell my boss that I did not feel comfortable with last year's 80% bonus award. I intend to tell her that I felt bad that I did not receive my full compensation in spite of my outstanding review, and that I fully intend to get 100% of my bonus this year. I will ask her what more I need to do to obtain this target and I will explain that unless I am able to achieve 100% of my bonus this year, I will consider this to be an unfavorable rating of my performance and will plan my steps accordingly. I will not threaten to leave, but will make it evident that I view my bonus as an integral part of my compensation package and that I consider it my right to receive 100% of the agreed upon bonus, if I deliver 100% of the agreed upon targets (which thankfully are very measurable).
5. Prepare to Appeal - Should my boss resort to the "only God is perfect" logic again, I will go to my boss's boss, our division President. Luckily, he knows me well and appreciates my work. He knows that I do not turn to him directly, except for very rare cases where I feel very strongly about something. In each of the few cases in which I turned to him for assistance he came through and provided the help I was seeking.
Bonus season is only three months away. Much to do, not a lot of time. I will provide updates on my progress and my results.