Working in Corporate America: How I got screwed out of my bonus

I remember when I was working in corporate America, every year we had to sit down and work on our PMO (performance management online) with our managers. You’d sit down, they’d set some goals and objectives for you to meet over the year. These goals were measurable and at the end of the year you were required to illustrate if and how you met them all.

If you did not meet your goals, that would create an opening for you to get a two rating on that aspect of your PMO. The PMO ratings are zero through five with a five being the highest rating. I consistently received three and four ratings throughout my career. Getting a two rating basically meant that you were screwed and would receive a zero bonus for that year. Never mind that our bonuses sucked to begin with (by contrast to what we did and what others made) but after the whole banking crisis it was even worse. Meanwhile, the greedy execs still got their nice fat bonuses. The way they made up for any losses was by cutting up our chump change bonuses into even smaller bits. The bonus pool for the “hired help” got smaller and smaller every year. But that’s another post entirely.

There’s more to this PMO thing though, you didn’t think that was all now did you? Once you got a two rating, even if you did really well on your PMO the following year, your bonus would not be in the same ballpark as it was prior to them giving you the two. You are reset and start back from the lowest bonus bracket. It’s a clever way to screw you and reduce your compensation significantly by making it appear as though its your own fault cause you didn’t meet your target.

One year I had an objective set for taking training, but because we were understaffed, I couldn’t take the required time to go to training. There was never adequate coverage to cover me. So I figured it was understood that the mission mattered more than this objective and that I’d be good come PMO time. WRONG. This was used as a way to give me a two, I didn’t take the training and that was my fault. It was my job to find a way to do it.

In any case, I digress, let me illustrate how the two rating destroyed your income. I was working for 18 years at a company, around the 15th year or so, someone decided that they had a fat raging hard on for me, that person decided to start screwing me on the PMO. So my bonus which was arbitrarily speaking $15 (reflecting my $15 years and current bonus pool) became $0 the year where I got a two rating. That $0 reset me on the bonus ladder going forward. Even if I did spectacularly the following year, I wouldn’t get the $15 I did prior to the $0, I’d start over from the bottom and get $1. You get it? Once you received a two rating, your bonus was destroyed!

For the last couple of years I was working on Wall, it seemed that I would always get a two on some aspect of my PMO. My direct managers gave me three and four ratings, but upper management would drop me because they saw the big picture or whatever, and there was nothing they could do about it.

Like I said before, someone had a raging erection for me. I was a long time employee, I was an employee who spoke their mind and challenged things that were not right, and like many before me who did the same, I was crucified. They wanted a bunch of compliant yes men and women. People who obeyed and took whatever was sent their way without question, and that isn’t who I am. They wouldn’t fire me because I did what I had to do and they knew I’d fight it tooth and nail. They didn’t want to “restructure” or lay me off because I was there a long time and the severance package would be expensive. So they did the only thing they felt might make me quit, hurt my bottom line by screwing me on the bonus.

It didn’t work, I never quit. This was a war of attrition and there was no way I would walk away from that severance package. You want me out of here? Give me my damn package! In any case, they eventually did decide to lay me off, and I will admit that they took care of me in terms of cobra coverage and severance. They didn’t have to do as much as they did on the way out. I give them credit for that. Although, my dad has just passed away and my wife had just had surgery. Maybe they thought I’d challenge them on timing of this lay off. And yes, I would have fought them if they screwed me out of the severance package.

In any case, that’s how corporate America screwed me out of my bonus payments for several years. Has anything similar happened to you?

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