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Offering Retention Bonus

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Corporations often use retention bonuses to motivate high-performers to stay. We had a superb office manager we didn't want to lose. We thought she was happy and well-paid, but we wanted to be extra-sure she didn't leave unnecessarily. This letter is terrific, and she appreciated the thought, but she declined the bonus and moved out-of-state with her fiance—something we had not anticipated. Monika was our Senior Vice President at the time.

August 17, 20—

Nan Zacarias
Office Manager
10475 Park Meadows Drive, STE 600
Lone Tree, CO 80124-5437

Dear Nan,

When I hired you four years ago, I said you'd be the quarterback in the office-everything would revolve around you.  That has proved to be true.  You really do run our entire operation, and, as we've told you many times, your performance always exceeds our highest expectations.  The consultants like you, the clients like you, all our vendors like you.  You are universally admired and appreciated, and we thank you for everything you have contributed.

In asking ourselves, "How can we retain this top talent, this leader in our company," Monika and I have come up with the idea of paying you a special bonus.

Naturally, we'd like you to stay as long as the company is in business.  But for purposes of the bonus, we've picked an arbitrary target date close to the time our current lease expires.

The bonus might work like this:  We would set aside $25,000 for you, to be paid in full on December 31, 20—, if you're still employed here.

In order to receive the bonus, you would have to be working here full time on December 31, 20—, and you couldn't be on suspension or probation for poor performance, or for any other reason.  If you resigned or left the company earlier than December 31, 20— for any reason, you would forfeit the bonus.

Nan, part of the reason for the bonus is that we want to acknowledge your impressive past performance.  Part of the reason is to acknowledge that you have a longer commute now, and you make daily sacrifices for our collective success.

We really appreciate you, and look forward to continuing our long, successful relationship.  If you accept this bonus offer, we'll write it up as an amendment to your employment agreement.

With many thanks,

William S. Frank

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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.