Thursday, March 17, 2016


As the new manager, it is appropriate for you to conduct an in depth examination of payroll criteria. This is especially true if incentives are involved. Look for unintended consequences that can have multiple, counterproductive outcomes.

For example, imagine you have taken over an outbound call center that works with nonprofit organizations. Your department calls your client’s members to request contributions. Some donors make immediate gifts on their credit cards, while others ask to have a pledge card issued, and they remit at a later date.

As part of learning about your new department you review base pay, commission and bonus metrics. You notice that one representative consistently receives the shift bonus for most pledge dollars written. Although she is a top pledge producer, she is not a top donation producer. You investigate further by listening to her presentation~~and you hear her advising donors of the amount she will enter on their pledge cards. She adds that they are welcome to remit a lesser amount if they prefer.

In your particular system, donors who send less than the full amount will now have accounts marked with partial payments on their donations, followed by correspondence reminding them to remit the balance of their pledge. This results in a strain on the donor’s patience and good will. The donor may contact your firm, causing the added expense of customer service hours and energy. Worse, the unhappy donor may contact your client organization to complain, which is never a good thing. Additionally, your team correctly perceives the bonus structure to be unfair, which impacts on their attitude and morale.

In this (hopefully exaggerated) scenario, the fund raiser is simply playing the game according to the department’s established rules. The metrics actually encourage inequity. Will you waste time being upset with your caller, or will you adjust the metrics? What solutions can you find to correct this situation?

Jeannie Newman, Chief Solutions Officer of JZN Associates, is available for speaking engagements and for workshops tailored to your company's specific needs. You are invited to connect with her on LinkedIn or at