Published on February 13th, 2018 by Alan L. Sklover
“People with good intentions make promises.
People with good character keep them.”
– Author Unknown
ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Brianna, an Executive Assistant to the Regional Vice President of a major clothing chain, was soon to complete her fifth year of service, all with positive attendance record, positive performance reviews, and positive relations throughout the company. Without her seeking it, one of the company’s vendors made her a job offer with greater compensation and a clear career path to executive level responsibilities.
When Brianna gave her Manager notice of resignation, he pleaded with her to stay, and promised her, in turn, that he would ensure she soon received a very significant “retention bonus” totaling almost one half of her full-year salary. With that promise in hand, she politely declined the job offer that had been made to her.
Brianna waited one month, two months, then six months, and the promised retention bonus did not arrive. Finally, she summoned the courage to ask her Manager about it. He said he would look into the matter for her.
About a week later, he told her he had good news, namely, that he confirmed with the company’s Controller that the retention bonus had been officially approved. When it still had not been paid to her after another month, she then received a memo from the Controller’s office apologizing for taking so long to get back to her. The Controller’s memo, though, contained some considerably disappointing news.
First, the retention bonus would be paid, but not for another year “as had been explained to you,” but had not, in fact, ever been discussed. Staying for another year was not something her Manager had ever mentioned.
Second, her retention bonus would be paid to Brianna “if and only if” (1) her next performance review was “exceeds expectations,” (2) the region she worked for met its sales goal for that year, and (3) she assumed additional responsibilities, including extensive travel, that had never been part of her job.
Oh, and one more thing: Brianna’s retention bonus was also conditioned on her agreement to relocate to another city if the company moved her division headquarters during the next year, something that recently had been rumored.
Brianna did not feel at all that she had been treated fairly, not in the least. She decided to seek a position with another employer, as soon as possible, with no looking back this time.
LESSON TO LEARN: What Brianna learned – the hard way – is that, at work, if a promise, assurance or pledge is made to you – whether of a raise, bonus, promotion, stock options or anything else of value – you should instantly ask two critical questions: “When?” and “What are the If’s?” meaning the conditions for receipt.
Nailing down the answers to these two simple questions will greatly increase your chances of receiving what was promised to you, perhaps more than anything else you can ask, say or do.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: At work, If you are offered, promised, assured, pledged or guaranteed anything of value, ask both (1) “When?” and (2) “What, if any, conditions exist on my receiving it?”
Ideally, you will develop the habit of asking these two questions, because if you don’t ask them, you just cannot expect anyone else at work to ask, or answer, for you.
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