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Monday, March 17, 2008

Career Key: Frustration vs Reality

Ever have that, "If they don't see my value I should leave!" feeling? One of the toughest times in a career or job is when expectation level doesn't remotely meet reality. These, to paraphrase, "are the the times that try men's careers!"

I am there now.

It is coming up on bonus payout time, I know what my payout could have been. We revamped many of the programs under my direction this year leading to over $1M in increases. I also laid the groundwork for new programs now launching that will generate $6-10MM per year...for a long time.

Based on all criteria I had a pretty good year...too bad it is for naught.

At a staff meeting this week we were told the bitter truth. That since the company had a poor year, (due to operational issues, not sales) bonuses would be small, or non-existent. And it would be based on the discretion of Executive management on the amount. Frankly, based on that I really don't know if I will get a bonus! But if I do it will probably 10% of what it could have been. Given that 20%+ of my pay is bonus, that hurts. Not eating moldy bread tragic, just a major bummer.

I am actually not surprised as the company, which in all other facets is pretty great BTW, puts lip-service to MBO Bonuses but the followup is poor. We had agreed upon MBOs (Manage by Objective) targets laid out and agreed to, to our Boss a year ago. They were never signed off on by the Executive team.

I am OK with saying that we had are having a poor year and bonuses will be tied first and foremost to OI (Operating Income). However this was discussed and determined that this year would be different and we would truly run the MBO program as intended; in other words hit your goals and you will be good to go.

Add to this frustration my review is 120-days late and won't be delivered until April. I will be retro-ed the amount, but given that there are already hints that; "I really already make more than the other Directors" I am not expecting much.

So what to do:

  • Quit - Not with somewhere else to go. I am always networking though and have options
  • Do Nothing - Passively going through a career taking only whats given will cost you thousand over the course of a career.
  • Talk to the Top - Go to the CEO and complain. Uh...career suicide!

OK, Trek fans, sounds like a "Kobayashi Maru" test huh? For non-Trekers, this is a no-win test. It is to gauge your ability to get the best outcome even though you are gonna lose. Only one person to beat the test is old Captain Kirk. How...he changed the rules.

I did a bit of that too. here is what I have done to "win the situation" or at least get the best possible result:

  • Before I came, back to the company I investigated how the "MBO Structure" had been working. Most expressed indifference at best. Basically I knew I couldn't rely on it, so I didn't and tried to get my salary as high as possible.
  • I have NO plans for my raise. IF it comes in it will go right to my debt Snowball. I'll never see and spend it.
  • I am logging all of these wins too! If someone asks for a resume I have a freshly pressed one ready to go.
  • I don't let it get me down...at least to my Boss. I am Captain positive. I am sure he did everything he could (which he did) and I won't d anything to make him look bad.
  • I try to get mine other ways. I talked to him about promotion, project bonuses or anything else to get those funds back.

End of the day, you can't control how you are dealt with, just with how you prepare for it and react to it!


Fiscal Musings said...

Even when things don't go our way, it pays to remember that complaining will get us nowhere. Sounds like a rough situation, but great attitude.

Mrs. Micah said...

It's great that you're keeping a log of your wins. That'd help you negotiate for a raise as well as sell yourself to another company. After all, they're not going to remember all the great stuff you've done unless you remind them.

I imagine that would be highly frustrating. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

It sucks when we don't get something we were expecting or were promised - it really does!
I think you are a fortunate man, though - you have a job you seem to enjoy.
You have a wonderful spouse and children. Your all healthy and happy!
Life is good RacerX - Life is good!!!
Thankfully you and your family have been making wise personal finance choices - so the delay or smaller amount won't hurt so much.
I say frame it - The money will come - just not when you were expecting it or maybe the amount you were expecting.

RacerX said...

@Fiscal - You are dead on that attitude is key. People will actually want to help you, or try to work to keep you. I have seen a lot of people pull a power trip and lose everything!

@Mrs Micah - Yep, Logging your wins is key, especially as companies cut back and don't have the budgets of the past.

@Dawn - Life is great regardless you are 100% right. over the course of 20+ years it doesn't matter, but it doesn't mean you have to accept what isn't fair! Thanks for the Pep talk!

Thank you all for visiting and commenting!

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