I Work For A Department That Awards A Performance Bonus Annually To A Few Deserving Employees. This Year, However, In An Effort To Keep Bonus Information Confidential, Those Receiving A Bonus Were Requested Not To Reveal That They Had Received A Bonus .

What, if Anything, Does This Say About Management's Methods of Performance Management?

May We Recommend...

If you don't trust management in your company, you might figure that asking for confidentiality about bonuses is some sort of plot to mask unfairness and bias. But that's almost certainly not the reason why management asks for confidentiality.

Since bonuses should be based on your performance, rather than your performance relative to others, it makes sense that the information about who gets bonuses, and what they are is largely irrelevant. In all probability, when employees start to share information about their performance bonuses, a lot of misunderstanding and conflict results, because it's typical that employees will share only partial and selected information, which is how misunderstanding occurs.

Management may also be interested in ensuring that private information remains private. They may feel that since the pay and bonuses of others should be private (in the interests of protecting employee privacy), they'd rather not have that information floating around and being distorted.

There is really no upside to have such bonus information floating around in the form of rumors. Those that didn't receive bonuses will spend time grousing, and nothing good comes from that except to set a negative job environment. Those that did receive bonuses may crow about it, creating resentment, or end up comparing exactly how much they got. How does this benefit anyone?

I've always felt that bonuses or pay levels are private, and as an employee, I've almost never considered them a useful topic of conversation anyway. My advice is that since there's no constructive purpose for discussing this confidential subject, not to volunteer this information in anything but general terms, and to not participate in conversations on this subject with peers and coworkers.

Of course, it's up to you.


About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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  • Performance management and appraisal MUST be a partnership between manager and employee where BOTH benefit.
  • Performance management can be the lever for improved employee engagement.
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