Did you want a bonus with that?

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This past week I really enjoyed writing thank you notes to the various service providers that support my life and business. Including my (and my wife’s) personal trainer, Ryan.

It felt good to include a check in the envelope. Ryan (and others) have been a big part of my life, and I wanted to have an impact on their lives, too.

Three days later I got a text from Ryan (we text often) thanking me for the “bonus.” The next time we trained, he again thanked me for the bonus. It struck me as wrong and made me feel funny, but I wasn’t sure why.

As I thought about my newsletter topic for this week, it hit me.

I didn’t give him a bonus. Rather it was a thank-you gift. You could call it a Christmas gift, but really it was a year-end thank you for being in our life, and having such a positive impact that has gone beyond merely keeping us fit.

Which brings me to this week’s message.

Be clear what you are giving: bonuses are different from incentives, and thank you gifts.

Bonus – a reward for going above and beyond, for hitting a high level of achievement. Often done at the end of the year, or end of a quarter, or end of a project. These can be impromptu, or laid out ahead of time based on a formula.

Incentives – a reward for hitting a prescribed target(s), sometimes paid out multiple times throughout the year. These can be for the team or an individual. Generally the reward is money, but many companies also use non-monetary incentives. Profit sharing falls under this category, too.

Thank you – can be a verbal thank you or a handwritten card; it can include a gift, to let someone know you appreciate what they have done for you.

Christmas bonus – this was a trick, there is no such thing. You either give a performance bonus or a christmas gift. The xmas bonus is an anachronism.

Commission – for salespeople, as a way to earn variable pay for sales performance (I could write a whole book on this topic, they are done incorrectly so often. In any event, salespeople can also earn bonuses and incentives depending on how you set it up.)

Your challenge: Be very clear what you are doing and giving year end, so your actions are not misconstrued. And say “thank you” to everyone who deserves it, don’t assume that a gift or money is the thank-you, because it is not.

Rewards gets people’s attention, but what you do with that attention makes all the difference!

I wish you and your family a warm, safe and joyful Happy Holidays!

Jeffrey Scott!

P.S. I will be traveling to Berlin tomorrow, spending the holidays with my son, brother, wife and a few others. When I am back, I will be traveling, speaking in Illinois, Nebraska, and Atlanta. If you are not able to spend time with me in Atlanta at my event, I have put a second event (new topic!) on the books in February in Boston, see below for details.

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