Ep126: The Danger of Expectations

27 minutes

Expecting a Christmas bonus? Readying to give one? Listen to this first! Because, though you might not think it, “bonus” can mean more than one thing. Getting it wrong is the difference between a disappointed staff, or a story that spreads the good word of your company far and wide. 

Why is that important for business? 

How do you surprise and delight your employees, and how is this different from the bonuses they’ve come to expect? 

There is a huge difference between an expected bonus, based on performance and seen as part of compensation, and an “I wish I worked there” story of delight. 

A surprise, random bonus has a completely different function than one with a formula or pattern. They serve to provide a story. If your ideal recruit asked one of your employees, “why should I work there?”, the answer isn’t going to be a bullet point list - it’s going to be a story. What do you want that story to be?

Similar to our episode on how your business is an extension of your values https://soheresmystory.com/ep123-sugar-spice-radiating-values/, these kinds of bonuses speak to who you are as a person and help people get a feel for the place. 

And though you won’t be able to please everyone, every time, as long as you help create the feeling you want to create (i.e. you aren’t enforcing participation), you can establish a strong sense of loyalty and satisfaction. And even better if you design the bonus so the impact of what is done is seen by their loved ones as well. If you work at a place and your spouse thinks it’s a nice company, then your positive feelings about it naturally increase. 

However, it is important to realize that there is a difference between this type of bonus and one that has shown a pattern or reliability. Falling short of what is expected in a bonus is, after all, what caused Clark Griswold to lose it on his family https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SXB1hvxnzw

Sometimes expectations are being set, and you don’t even realize it. As the business owner, you might not be aware that there is a pattern developing and that an expectation has been formed. Sometimes, even employees don’t know they have that patterned expectation until it isn’t met. You have to develop the awareness that anything that creates a pattern is at risk for becoming an expectation. 

It’s important to create two distinct swim lanes – the random and memorable surprise, and the very separate bonus with clear expectations and an understandable formula. That way, you don’t run the risk of, in effort to do something nice, failing to meet an expectation you didn’t even realize was there.

What story do you want to tell?

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