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Nonsensical Bonus Schemes

The Academy for Chief Executives, a leading provider of experiential business learning® facilitates groups of CEOs and Managing Directors who meet together every month to network and take full advantage of experiential learning. Part of membership involves members taking their issues to the table and discussing them with their peers.

At a recent meeting, one of the CEO members discussed a historical bonus situation, where members of an IT department receive bonuses based on the performance of the sales team;  i.e. results are completely out of their control or even their sphere of influence.

This situation appeared to be nonsensical but so well established that no-one ever seemed to ask why, most especially the happy members of the IT team that are benefiting from the excellent sales results of their colleagues.

Members of this CEO experiential learning group discussed why/how/when to amend their bonus scheme and what to base their rewards on in the future.  A lively debate followed with many ideas including:

  1. Design 5 key activity criteria and 5 key results criteria and apply a bonus based on these specific criteria that are measurable and achievable by the IT team members
  2. Invite the IT team members to create their own bonus scheme and define their own criteria
  3. Remove the bonus and offer incentives for good performance of another type
  4. Other comments included “If the bonus is not ‘real’ then remove it and add it into the salary.

For confidentiality reasons we cannot divulge all of the advice provided by our members – however, we do hold open meetings where guests are able to attend and experience for themselves the real power of shared experience and experiential learning alongside fellow leaders, CEOs, MDs and entrepreneurs.   To find out how you can take advantage of advice like this every month, visit

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