They Did What With Our Money


By Lisa Earle McLeod

Many of you are criticizing certain corporations for misuse of public funds. But I’d like to call a time-out on all this whining. We’re in a crisis people, and the last thing we need is for a bunch of tax-paying Americans to start questioning the actions of corporate executives. Did we criticize the single mother who put her son’s diabetes medication on VISA and can’t make the minimum payments on her 30% interest Citi card? I think not. Do we sit in judgment of the manufacturing worker who is behind in his mortgage because he wasn’t responsible enough to put a year’s worth of expenses in the bank before he lost his job? I don’t think so. So why would we criticize our nation’s finest financial institutions simply because they don’t know how to manage money. Who are we to sit in judgment of huge corporations that pay their people million dollar bonuses for poor performance? It’s not like these people are professional managers. These are top-level executives who run billion dollar companies. Do you honestly think that they have time to look over the financials or come up with a comp plan that rewards good performance instead of bad? Hello? When are they supposed to play golf and decorate their offices? Now I’m a consultant, and I usually charge for my work. But I’m also an American and I consider it my patriotic duty to help my country out in its time of need. So I’m going to take one for the team here and provide these folks with a little bit of free advice. Because, unlike some of the rest of you judgment citizens who are whining about your money being spent on beachside Pina Colodas for a bunch of executives, I don’t believe this is an ethics problem. It’s a training issue. And I’m here to help. Yes sirree, I’m just a regular corporate Florence Nightingale, Here’s my just-in-time tourniquet to help these fine folks stop the bleeding.

1. Bonus = good job: It’s usually a nice idea to tie your bonus plan to some kind of, uh, what do they call it, oh yeah, performance measurements. Here’s a simple formula to follow. You know that number at the bottom of the P &L? Right across from where it says net profit? If that number is in red with brackets around it, the people responsible don’t get extra money

2. Expect people to work: Now this can be tricky because, in the financial world, the definition of work is somewhat slippery. But here’s a good test. If they have a really good tan, and it’s winter, and your company is in the middle of a crisis, chances are they’re not putting in 12-hour days sharpening the financial pencil.

3. Retain talent; fire bloat.: I know it’s tempting to want to keep all your buddies around, and what’s a few million to retain someone who is a hoot at company parties? But the standard HR practice is that you only pay retention bonuses to people who actually improve the performance of the company. If they run it into the ground, you give them a little thing called a pink slip.

I hope these tips help and that the poor people running these firms don’t have to struggle much longer. Because, it would be a crying shame if these executives were forced to stay in the dark forever.

Lisa Earle McLeod is a syndicated columnist, author, keynote speaker and business consultant who specializes in helping individuals and organizations create happiness and success. Her latest book is Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear – For more info – <>

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