Why a Bonus for Agile Program Managers?

I’m seeing ads for what should be agile program managers on LinkedIn. I can’t tell what these positions really are, but when they say “responsible for management of 15 scrum teams,” that’s an agile software program manager to me. But the distressing part of the ad is when it’s a US-based position with a base pay and a bonus.

I understand that in other parts of the world that cars are part of a professional pay package. And, I don’t understand enough about the tax laws elsewhere to understand how pay is apportioned to understand base vs. bonus. But I understand a lot about US law. And, to offer a bonus to a program manager seems silly to me.

What’s the bonus for? For meeting a date? That’s trivial with Scrum. You can meet any date you want. You have timeboxes. Is it for meeting a feature set? That’s all on the product owner, right? Sure, the program manager should help the program product owner understand the risks and help make decisions. But that’s the program manager’s job, not worthy  of a bonus. What about technical debt and defects? Product owner decisions, because the product owner owns the acceptance criteria and ranking the technical debt along with the new features. Again, the program manager should help with decision making. Just because the program product owner has the final decision doesn’t mean the program owner should have the only decision-making responsibility.

Technical Program Team of Concurrent Projects

The agile program manager owns managing the risk and the coordination among the teams and managing the dependencies, and helping the architects smooth the way, and making sure the program product owner understand the risk behind the decisions. There’s plenty of work for the agile program manager to do. But why would an agile program manager need a bonus? What’s the bonus dependent on?

I worry when I see bonuses for agile program managers specified in a job ad. The bonus breaks the social contract with the team. Are the other people on the program team getting bonuses? If so, for what? If not, why not?

This makes no sense to me. Does it make sense to you? If so, please explain it to me.

4 Replies to “Why a Bonus for Agile Program Managers?”

  1. This seems to assume that the bonus is strictly for personal performance. In my company, for instance, bonuses are largely based on overall company performance. There is a personal multiplier, which can allow for someone going above and beyond their duties (or being lacking in certain areas), but that’s generally between 90% and 110%. This is true for almost employees, from development to program management to product management.

  2. Bonus can be for organizational goal completion and its a collaborative bonus.

    If the bonus is for individual performance then its a bunkum, as all individual bonuses are

  3. Bonuses are given when the company is doing well and wants to share the bounty with its employees, and they’re given to people liked by their bosses. Agile manager or anybody else – they’ll get a bonus if their boss is happy with them, regardless of actual goals met and work performed. It can be phrased in different ways – bonus for exceeding expectations, delivering great results, being a go-to person, going above and beyond, working hard, etc.., but at the heart of the matter is keeping one’s boss happy.

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