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When To Ask For A Bonus

I took over my position over a year ago and walked into a nightmare of bad chemistry all over. Over the course of a year I have fixed labeling issues regarding GHS, quality control, and formulated new products. My most recent work involves switch a surfactant and using the optimal ratios of surfactant to raw materials which would reduce costs by $250,000 per year while still having the product still perform the same. This is a small private company, but I would assume that something of this magnitude would reward some kind of incentive bonus. While I have not completed all 40 products with the optimal formulations, I am just wanting some feedback if I should ask because A) thats a lot of time and work for me to save a company 1/4 of million and not see any reward.

Answers

John Herndon
Title: Senior Consultant
Company: NOWCFO
(Senior Consultant, NOWCFO) |

I don't think asking for a bonus is beyond reasonable. The real trick to make sure you are able to quantify the results in tangible terms. Is it possible to show the increase in value of the surfactant in the gross margin of the product being produced? Have you considered talking to the accounting department and determining through their cost accounting group how this increased value is showing up in their bill of material or their production variances (if any).

I would focus on the bill of materials, be sure you have a clear understanding of before and after the change.

This way, when you walk into a meeting with your boss the evidence is irrefutable.

Anonymous
(SVP Finance) |

I would have to respectfully disagree with John's answer here. I absolutely agree that you should have any comp conversation armed with details on what you have done to improve the company. But a productive conversation regarding a bonus should surround what you will DO or CONTINUE TO DO that will add value to the company. Presumably you were hired because the company thought you would do good things, perhaps cost savings being one of them. Speaking in past terms about accomplishments, even if they have positive long term consequences, has some merit in a year-end salary negotiation. But asking for a bonus for prior work would tell me that employee will be back asking for money anytime they accomplish something, and that they don't have the confidence to sell me their value on a going-forward basis.

If you think you accomplished what you accomplished because you are a valuable, hard worker, then use what you have accomplished as a base to show how valuable you will be in the future and why your comp should be adjusted upward. As you have mentioned, they won't be able to deflect (credibly) by saying they need to see more out of you. So the conversation will come down to all that matters anyway - whether they see you as a valuable component to the businesses future.

Just my 2 cents.

Erik Blumenau
Title: Principal
Company: Batten Advisory Group
(Principal, Batten Advisory Group) |

I subscribe to the theory that certain jobs command certain salary's regardless of job performance. To keep it simple, let's say that the average wage for a janitor is $10 to $20 an hour. It doesn't matter how good of a janitor your are, or how long you've been doing your job, your salary range is somewhere between $10 and $20 an hour.

With that being said, as you move up the food chain, their should be performance or incentive bonuses in place that compensate you in addition to your regular salary. I think you have a reasonable case to present to your boss about setting up a bonus plan. Keep in mind that if you are awarded an incentive bonus, you are not going to receive anything near the amount of money you saved the company. It is your job to do a good job for the company. You are free to start your own company and take on the risks involved to reap the rewards. That is not meant to sound harsh, but it is the reality.

In summary, I would lay out the quantifiable results as John mentioned and meet with your boss. Just make sure you approach it professionally. Good luck and keep up the hard work.

Anonymous
(Business Consultant) |

With due respect to all - asking for a "bonus" after the fact seems a bit counter-productive for both employee and employer. Why not use your achievements so far to set up some SMART goals (with some stretch) for the future and some agreed-upon bonus pay if you achieve those goals.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

Without intending to stereotype, I see what appears to be a man/woman difference. In all the years of counseling women to ask for what they want, I've learned that many - maybe even most - women do the job first, wanting to be "a good girl" and prove themselves "hoping" (I use that word deliberately) that their good work will be noticed and awarded.

Anonymous right above me suggest you ask for the bonus before doing the work. I've learned from all the men I've counseled that that is typically the manner in which they operate.

I suggest finding a middle ground. Do an analysis of what is involved, show how you are the best person to do it, possibly even create the starting place, a sample, a prototype, etc. and then say - I think this project is worth a whole lot more and I would like a bonus to partially compensate me for that fact.

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