I have an unethical manager (long)

I have worked for a Big Bank for 5 years. I worked my way up from being a customer service rep working with the general public to only working with a clientele with $250,000 to $1 million in investable assets. I am fully licensed (series 7, 66, life & health). I am good at my job. A top performer. Out of 47 people who do my job in my region, I am one of 3 eligible for bonus this quarter.

January is a crazy month for the bank. The goals are crazy and there is tremendous pressure on everyone in the retail bank to produce ridiculous numbers. My district manager told me that for the month of January he wants me to be a regular banker on Mondays and Fridays and to set all of my appointments for my clients at one office. I travel between 5 locations so this essentially clips my wings for the rest of the week. The reason he gave me is that he has lost so many bankers recently that he is going into January not being properly staffed and he needs me to be a team player.

I only get credit towards my incentive for work I do for clients who are in my “book of business”. That means that I only get credit for customers who meet the $250k-$1mm requirements. If I generate tremendous numbers for the bank on Mondays and Fridays, but they are not my customers, I get no credit. I could be the number one performer in the region, but if the clients I worked with had less than $250k in assets, my production would be $0.

This means I will have very little chance to be eligible for my 1st quarter bonus. I am also up for a promotion based on hitting my goals for Q1 and Q2. Also, I receive an annual bonus based on how I have grown my book of business. You can imagine the goals are hard to hit, so eliminating January is going to make it impossible.

Here is my dilemma. If I raise this concern and someone above him reverses his decision, he will make my life hell. I have had run ins with this guy before and once you get on his radar he looks for every opportunity to make your life hell. If I don’t raise the concern, I am giving away the opportunity for earning commissions and a promotion.

I think it is unethical to ask me to do work For which I do not get credit, putting me in such a bad position financially and professionally, because he mismanaged staffing for January.

That is some bad catch 22 there. If it were me, I’d probably go ahead and raise your concerns. It isn’t fair. Yes, life isn’t fair, but this is kind of a big one and not something I’d lay down for. My subsequent plan would be to arm myself to the teeth with documentation on anything this guy does for the foreseeable future just in case he runs afoul of some rules while putting the screws to you. Maybe he’ll take it like a man, but if he doesn’t, fight. If he’s a petty asshole, he has it coming.

This is a look out for #1 time. What he’s asking is too much.

Does your DM actually, fully realise that by doing this he’s affecting you both financially and professionally? Might he be so narrowly-focused that he hasn’t a clue? In which case, having a quiet word with him would be the best recourse.

If he knows but doesn’t care, and is a petty dictator who enjoys being vengeful when challenged, then I don’t see that you have any avenues available except to document everything and/or make friends with whoever is higher on the food chain than he is.

Can you communicate with him about it through email? I would think that would be your best bet- that way, if he does retaliate against you for objecting to it, then you have documentation. Don’t let yourself get fucked over.

My first inclination in a situation like this would be schedule a face to face meeting with this guy and explain exactly what doing this for him will do to your yearly pay and advancement opportunities.

Then say, since I’m helping you like this even though I’m hurting myself, is there anything you can do for me? Basically ask blatantly that he give you some sort of favor or tit-for-tat on this. If he’s a higher up at the bank he should be able to do something for you down the road, and a lot of guys sitting in the chairs of higher up positions at banks pretty much made their careers off of getting favors and doing favors and networking, so I don’t know that such a thing would be foreign to him. He might be able to get you a promotion or something to an even better job long term.

If he has the authority to make you do this thing, I wouldn’t fight too much on that, but I’d try to get a favor out of it / make this guy feel he “owes me.”

He could obviously just say “fuck you I’m your boss and I can make you do this and I don’t owe you shit if I do.” That’s 100% a possibility, but from my experience a lot of guys aren’t like that, even ones who give off a bad personality vibe. If some higher position opens up by making it known to him you’re someone who wants to do favors you become someone he would want to give a promotion to, because he knows you’re someone who will help him in a jam. And by basically asking him to acknowledge you are doing him a solid, it lets him know that you’re some meek sheep that just went along with it because he barked, but that instead you went along with it to help him out.

Your manager hasn’t presented any reason why he can’t hire regular bankers (that is, not Series 7, life etcetera qualified) in January, has he? Instead he wants you to sacrifice your chances for incentive compensation and advancement. That’s probably not kosher with HR. I think you should set that out in a very polite memo to him. Acknowledge that you understand his problem but suggest that the real solution is to hire–or internally promote–the people he needs to be regular bankers. Offer to devote time (don’t be specific) to any new hires he gets for the regular banker job. That’s your “team player” aspect–but not one that makes you give up the position you worked for.

Otherwise, he’s effectively demoting you–and it sure doesn’t sound like you deserve it.

Too late to hire in January. The new hires in the pipeline won’t be ready till February.

Well, you get a paycheck for the work you do on Monday and Friday, yes? I find it strange that in other threads we have people throwing support at the Occupy movement, and then in this one we have a banker upset because he’s being forced to service regular old account holders two days per week and might not get his bonus.


That is a pickle! I don’t think you should just accept it, but you do need to have a plan that doesn’t piss off your boss.

What would you like to happen when you talk to him? Don’t just ask him to fix it. You need to present him with a solution that works for both of you.

Could he possibly adjust your January “book of business” targets so they’re 60% of what they were before (since you’ll only spend 60% of your time working on them) plus some targets that reflect what you do on the retail side (and they should reflect the fact that you’ll be working only two days towards them). Those goals would better reflect what you’re doing and provide incentives to keep you performing in both areas.

Another thing to think about is whether this is happening to just you or to everyone in your position. If the latter, it’s going to be a lot more difficult. If the plan is management’s way of reducing the payroll without publicly saying they’re doing so (by raising the bar so fewer people reach their targets), you’re going to have a much tougher time.

The fact that you’re a top performer is in your favor. They’ll want to keep you motivated and not lose you to the competition. But don’t overplay your hand. As you said, you do want to keep him happy.

Let’s go to the quarry and throw shit down there!

You sound surprised that, in the banking industry, you have an unethical, self-centered manager [del]asking[/del]telling you to do things that will help him but not help you. That’s hilarious.

For a start, it’s not “unethical” - for whatever reason (and there’s no evidence to believe it’s your manager’s fault) the bank is understaffed. The bank’s first obligation is to service customers - not to help you reach your goals.

That said, have you raised the issue with the manager? I would be looking for an adjustment to my targets - and the format I would be taking would be something along the lines -
Hey, I’m cool with helping out, but how about my targets? I can’t hit them if I am taken off my normal duties for 2 days a week.

Your complete misuse of the word “unethical” in this context does make me wonder about the clarity of the rest of your OP. When people leave bosses often have to scramble to provide coverage. This is simply reality, whether you like it or not there are occasions where you have to be “a team player” in service businesses. He doesn’t “ethically” owe you the perfect setup to allow you to maximize your bonuses. You are coming off like a bit of an entitled prima donna.

The other angle is that you are guaranteed nothing in any business these days. Do you really owe him or the bank anything at all other than being productive. Are you enough of power producer you can tell him “no”? That’s basically the decision you have to make.

I’m not seeing anything unethical here either. Sometimes events conspire to prevent you from reaching your bonus goals. It happens to most people from time to time. If you’re needed to work with the regular clients then that’s what is needed.

Now, if you can point out other resources that are available to do that work that would free you to work on your main focus you should bring that to your boss. But to just complain that you’re being asked to work outside your bonus area because the bank is understaffed doesn’t seem like a good plan.

Same industry as the OP, I would say that this isn’t so unusual, and I am not sure it is unethical either. It isn’t in your best interest to do this, but the financial industry tends to be a lot more comfortable with the “what’s in it for me?” response that is appropriate here. If you raise the question and he has an issue then it gets trickier.

Every manager of financial advisors is compensated largely by the production of those who work under him. If you are one of his best people he will almost have to compromise. I know that, despite the economy, the market for talent in my area remains good for job seekers. I have been trying to hire two people since August and only found one this week. I would raise your concern, saying something like, “I know that maintaining my high level of production is important to both of us. If I were to help out for a month could we work out an adjustment of . . . In recognition of the opportunity to build my business I am foregoing?”

I know I have been asked to stuff like this earlier in my career and regretted it until I started counter proposing a fair adjustment to my compensation.

He mismanaged his staff and is now in trouble for January. He is asking me to forgo hitting my goals so that I can help him hit his. I call that unethical. He is asking me to do work for which I am not going to be compensated.

And I am not a prima Dona. I have earned my postion and my ability to earn higher commissions. I dont expect to be treated special. My job is to service a specific demographic. That is what I focus on and what my compensation depends on. My commission is that lion’s share of my income, which I use to support my family.

This is a giant corporation and the goals cannot be adjusted. They are what they are.

I’d just ask him to promise in writing that your bonus levels will be prorated 40% for the time you will be essentially off work. I know you will be working but not the work for which you were hired and which they obviously value as that is what they compensate you on.

Look at it like this:

Assume our job is to move bags of flour across the room. My manager is expected to move 50,000 pounds of flour from one side of the room to the other each day. He pays us by the pound of flour we move.

Everyone is using bags that hold 2lbs of flour. They notice that I am really good at it, so they send me to training on how to use the 5 lb flour bagger. Once my training is complete they say I am no longer going to be paid for moving any bags smaller than 5lbs.

This goes really well and I am selected to go to extensive training on how to use the 100 lb bagger. After months of training, they put me to work. They say they know I won’t move as many bags, but they do expect me to move the most flour. I will be paid well, but only for bags that weigh 100 lbs or more.

Then one day the manager comes to me and says because he has treated his staff so poorly, many have left. It is more important that i focus on moving 2 lb bags until he can get fully staffed. He realizes that if he can get me to move the smaller bags, he will still be able to move enough flour to hit his goals. Unfortunately he will still only pay me for moving 100 lb bags.

This, to me seems unethical.

What specific ethical principle is he violating in your opinion?


All I saw was “I am a banker” and “I might not get a bonus”, at which I point I filed this story under “Things to not give a f*ck about.”


Lets assume you get a decent pay for working X hours, whether its hobo’s looking to cash Salvation Army checks or Millionaires looking to open new accounts. But your bonus are only based on your Millionaire work.

Yeah, it probably sucks that the boss is asking you to mostly service the hobos because there likely goes the bonus. But if you raise too much of a stink you could either lose your job or you boss makes your job a living hell. Is either of those possibilities in todays employment climate worth that bonus?