79. Corporate Greed
I was working for a financial firm: 1,800 employees, with a sales force of 200. I was one of the salesmen. We had our annual meeting in April. It was a big affair.
Most of the employees attended, and the CEO gave a big speech about how the previous year was the best in the company’s history.
The next month, May, we each submitted memos basically justifying why we should qualify for bonuses. Coming off the company’s best year ever, it should have been a slam dunk, right? June rolls around, and my bonus is zero. ZERO. But it’s not just me. It’s all over the sales floor. Less than 20% of the sales force got bonuses, and everyone was mad.
The company was facing a mutiny. It got worse when it came out that the supervisors were offered bonuses that they could determine for themselves. Only a couple – knowing their subordinates wouldn’t be getting anything – refused. My supervisor took his. So for a week or so, things on the floor came to a stop.
A lot of people just didn’t show up, and the ones that did were angry. I came in and started reading Monster.com ads at my desk. I also stopped selling anything or answering my phone.
When confronted by my boss, I told him that as soon as I got the bonus, my sales justified, I’d start working again. The following day I was sent to the regional sales manager’s office. She said she’d heard about my work stoppage and asked me to explain myself. I told her that if she heard about it from my supervisor than she already knew why I wasn’t working, and I didn’t need to explain it again.
She tried buddying up to me, being friendly, then being stern, then being angry. I kept my composure and told her that the longer the company held out on my bonus, the longer it was going to miss out on sales from my territory.
I then gave her my average daily amount of sales from the previous year, quantified what the total loss would be for a week of me not selling, and how much cheaper it would be just to pay me the money I was owed and get me back to selling.
The following day I came in, checked my emails – some of which were farewell emails from coworkers who quit over their stolen bonuses – and sat on Monster.com until I was told to go to the office of the national sales manager. He told me he understood that I was upset and could see why.
I asked him if withholding the bonuses from 80% of his sales force was his idea or someone else’s. He didn’t answer. He did tell me that I would be getting a check on Monday, and could I please go back to work now? I told him I’d be going back to my desk, but work wouldn’t start until the check was in my hand.
The next day an email went out to the entire salesforce: management had taken a look at the numbers, re-evaluated the financials, and determined that June bonuses would be issued shortly. The email also apologized for the delay and reminded us that as salesmen were the core of the company, and our hard work was appreciated.
I also received another email, this time from the national sales manager, who told me while bonuses were scheduled for Monday, he’d be walking my check to my desk the following day. The following day I showed up, sat down, and shortly afterward, the national sales manager walked on up and handed me my bonus check.
I thanked him and handed him my resignation, effective immediately. In my resignation letter, I requested that a check for my unused vacation time please be cut and given to me before I left the building. When he finished reading it, I told him I’d clean out my desk while I waited for the vacation check.
I learned later from coworkers that remained that even though the company issued the bonuses, they lost about 20% of the sales force in the following two months. Gotta love corporate greed.