Hi folks.
I'm the manager of a small team: I have one direct. I've been asked to designate the percentage split for our team's share of the bonus pool. I am making the assumption that word will get out how much people's bonuses are. Therefore, I am trying to strike a balance between the actual stated parameters for allocation (performance, contribution to team projects, increased growth in skillset by the employee) and not being THE jerk manager. The true split given the parameters should be 80/20 or even greater, but this is tricky because of course I contribute more to the company than my direct!!

Other performance things: my own is good, getting better, and could be better still. My boss (the owner) does not do performance reviews nor do I have a consultable stack of metrics. I know I can do those metrics on my own but frankly just have not yet.

I am paid very well for the company but poor-to-average for the market/industry/position. My direct has a lot of potential but often does not perform at her pay grade. The danger of over-bonusing is on my mind. Rewarding for average behavior is not something I want to do. Oh, and the company had a downer year, so I'm shocked there are bonuses at all. Clearly they are not profit-related.

Sorry, just a little flummoxed here. Anyone run into this?


Kevin1's picture

Hi Miss Tenacity,

I don't envy you being put in a situation as having to decide your own bonus and that of your direct out of the one pool.  You do run the risk of being labeled the 'Jerk' boss if you are too one sided, in your favour.

One way of looking at it is through the lens of your differing pay levels.  An 80/20 split of the bonus pool by $ might be more like a 3%/9% split when looking at % of pay.   This might help you feel better about the allocation.

If this isn't enough, then at what point do you feel the risk of the 'jerk' lable diminishes?  This may depend on how well others know the relative performances of yourself and your direct.   Is it 70/30 or 66/33?

Another approach might be to ask your HR department for their recommendation.  If you have one.

I hope this helped a little.

Kind regards


misstenacity's picture

Definitely not getting much help from HR. I did ask, actually, if I could be privy to previous years' bonuses so I have reference points in case there are any expectations (because whether or not those expectations are fair they likely exist and I should be aware of that...) on the part of my diret and I was denied that info.

Anyway, if you do salary percentages it is an interesting comparison because my pay isn't a multiple of theirs, unless you consider ~1.33 to be a multiple. Heh.

I don't make the final decision, I just make a strong recommendation.

Thanks for the response!

tabitharizzio's picture
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This sounds like a good exercise for a manager to make business decisions based on business results.

While difficult to do it may assist you in reviewing each job description and the respective results.

Try thinking about this task w/o regard to yourself or even your direct but based purely on business results.

I would then prepare a packet w/your recommendation to your manager to get their input. 

If your recommendation comes from the business side it will reflect well on you.

Or just split 50/50...

In any event it sounds like you might do well in reviewing some refreshers in MTs podcasts on feedback and 1:1s.

You've stated you contribute more to the organization than your direct, even w/a !...

You state work as in "I" or "direct" never "we", in an especially small teams "we" mindset becomes very important.

Manager's who don't realize the importance of "we" and how they success is very much dependent on the success of their directs tend to have very poor team performance due to the lack of a "team" or "we" dynamic.  

misstenacity's picture

Understandable to point out that I did not talk of us as a team but rather me and my direct. However, the question was not how much does the team contribute to the company and are we working together to achieve that, but rather how would *I* as the manager distribute a fixed dollar amount bonus between the two people on the team (the manager (me) and the direct). So in this case the "we" move is to just say 50/50, with a note that each of us is intregal to the success of our little team.