I couldn’t help myself… I don’t usually interject into the conversations I overhear, but this one was too compelling to pass up.
“That’s a pretty good incentive. Can I join?”
They laughed and knew I was joking; but only just. There are few things I miss about my past corporate life; one would be some of the wonderful bosses and colleagues I worked with. But right after that would be bonus time.
Having studied business I know that the best incentives are tied directly to objective goals within the control of the employee. And yet… as the employee, there is nothing that makes you feel better about a company than when
they give you a bonus you weren’t quite expecting.
The closest I get to a bonus nowadays is at our monthly writer’s meetings. Each month anyone who wants to can submit a goal and a $1. The following month, if we’ve met our goal, our name goes into a hat for a drawing
of all the money that was collected. The good news is that this incentive activity is both tied directly to a specific goal and also a surprise if you actually win. The bad news is that it’s not a trip to Italy.
All of this has made me wonder, what would my goal need to be in order to earn a big bonus like a trip to Italy? It seems like it would be completely out of reach; which means
1. I need to go join that guy’s company, or
2. I need to choose a different incentive, or
3. I need to find a way to bring it within reach
In any case, unless I place my husband in charge of bestowing the incentive, (and really, which of us would want to do that?) the surprise factor is clearly not present in this scenario.
Which may have solved my dilemma… If I tie my trip to Italy to an unexpected result, like a great, unsolicited book
review in a popular literary magazine, then it meets all of my criteria. It gives me a real incentive to improve my writing and to publish as well as a
little surprise when it’s met.
Granted, the goal is not entirely in my control; but as anyone
who works in corporate America knows… very few bonus goals ever really are.