Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Derailed plans, etc.

I had intended, at the beginning of the year, to accomplish some things, but I can hardly remember the list, which should tell you something about my progress toward those important goals.

In a way, they're like my six "objectives" at work - great on paper in January but only vaguely related to the reality that unfolds over the next 11 months. On the plus side, the personal goals don't have a dollar figure attached.

Here's how the system at work works (trust me, the personal goals are pretty boring; you're not missing much):

Besides your ordinary work, you and your manager draw up a list of five goals to accomplish over the year. They have to be quantifiable and because they determine whether you get a bonus, and if so how much, each goal is assigned a value (like, say, 20 percent of your bonus).

At the end of the year, you write a report on how your goals went, and assign a percentage to each one as to how you think you did. Then your manager reads the report and decides what percentage to give you. Then your bonus is figured by looking at what percent you got of each goal.

The maximum possible bonus, regardless of how many new ways to make money you might invent, is 2.5 percent of your base pay, which to me seems like a strong disincentive to invent new ways to make money, at least at work.

I'm not supposed to say how much money I make because it is a big secret, but let's just say my maximum bonus is between $1,100 and $1,300. Aww yeah, journalism. And because our friend the IRS hangs on to more from my bonus than my salary - and because I opt for 401(k) withholding on the bonus, too - the take-home I see is in the neighborhood of $600 or $700.

So the high end of my take-home bonus is just in the neighborhood of a week of take-home pay. One fifty-second extra isn't much of an inspiration, unless you're talking one fifty-second of Britney Spears' take-home pay.

Hey, I love my job, and I don't particularly care about the bonus, but I do think there might be some reasons to revise the system. Maybe if what was at stake was an extra week of vacation...

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