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  • Rob Houghton

Year End Bonuses: Be Careful What You Wish For

As we approach the year-end bonus season many of us are waiting in anticipation for that big (or little check). Never fails, each and every year I hear a crazy bonus story. More on this later…For now, instead of focusing on the amount of the bonus, consider whether this is an award, achievement, or, simply a gift. The distinction is very important. And just whose achievement was this anyway? Your company, department, or was it an individual accomplishment? Assuming you are a peak-performer you want to make sure that you are being rewarded, not gifted. Rewarded for what? For your specific and individual performance. How do you do ensure this is what happens? By making sure that you have specific and individual benchmarks and goals established for you to meet or exceed during the year. For an account manager, it could be retention on your book of business, or for a producer, it could be incremental or new revenue growth. But it is up to you to make this happen sooner than later with your supervisor, or at least, during your annual performance review. Trust me, as a peak performer, if you are getting a bonus based on group or company-wide performance, you are getting short-changed. Now for the crazy (true) story…last year a Maryland-based insurance agency promised its employees during the summer months that it was shaping up to be a banner year and that all employees were going to be sharing in the year-end profits via cash awards to all. The announcement was so vague, many questioned it. Well, something happened between summer and the end of the year and, instead of cash bonuses, the firm decided to give everyone a turkey on the way out the door of the annual Christmas party. But, of course, the owner (and wife) showed up with their brand new pick-up truck. So what happened? All the turkeys were thrown into the back of the owner’s brand new pickup truck as the employees departed the party. Five of these employees departed that agency within 60 days into the New Year…now that is what we call, “Frontier Justice” in Texas…I’m still laughing!

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