Facebook Pins Tech Pro Bonuses on ‘Social Issues’

What if earning your annual bonus hinged on forces outside of your control?

That’s a familiar scenario to many tech professionals, who often see their bonuses tied (at least in part) to their company’s overall performance. But Facebook is taking things another step further by tethering bonus payouts to “major issues facing the internet and our company.”

Employees who help build new experiences that improve folks’ lives, who support businesses that rely on Facebook, and effectively communicate Facebook’s role in the world can expect to earn a bonus in the upper range, according to Fortune. That’s a marked change from Facebook’s old system, which graded employees on “standard” factors such as user growth and sharing, as well as improving product quality.

In a call with Fortune, Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer admitted that determining the metrics for those new goals might prove difficult: “This is going to be our first time figuring this out.” Indeed, while something like user growth is easy to calculate, how does a bonus committee quantify “improving lives” or “effective communication,” especially in the context of individual employees? If anything, this new bonus system shows how desperately Facebook wants to shift its narrative after a disastrous 2018.

Facebook’s shift also revives a question that has bothered many tech pros for years: How much should those outside factors determine their bonus? No employee likes collecting only half of their potential payout because the company’s stock took a tumble over the past twelve months, or another team failed to launch a flagship product on deadline. Will Facebook pin only a small percentage of individual bonuses to these huge goals?

When you introduce somewhat-nebulous social metrics into the equation, the conundrum becomes even thornier. Most tech pros are hired to execute a particular mission. A data scientist, mobile developer, or security analyst doesn’t have the time and skill-set to effectively communicate the company mission to strangers; in fact, you could argue that having employees chase those social goals could distract them from their actual jobs. (At least there’s a correlation between launching a successful product and “traditional” factors such as the company’s overall value or stock price.)

As a tech pro, there’s not a lot you can do about the factors outside of your control. That sucks, but it’s reality. Thankfully, there are things you can control in order to maximize your annual bonus:

Define the Parameters Beforehand

When the year begins, make a point of sitting down with your manager and quantifying the metrics behind your bonus. What sort of numbers will you need to hit?

Keep an Eye on the Calendar

Make sure that you’re working toward your maximum bonus throughout the year. Keep a spreadsheet or other document that tracks your progress—you might need it when you sit down with your boss to talk final percentages.

Check In

Don’t wait until the end of the year to discuss bonus progress with your boss; seek feedback on a regular basis, and make sure your continuing performance is truly “bonus-worthy.”

Craft the Narrative

It’s not all about the numbers, of course; take care to shape a narrative that encompasses your level of effort, and how those efforts translated into tangible benefits for the company. When the time comes, you’ll use that narrative to “sell” your worthiness for a maximum bonus, in addition to whatever metrics you’ve generated.