“Performance” Linked Incentive – The PLI-ght of the blighter who was neck-deep in…

(2 posts ago, I mentioned the god’s way of disbursing bonuses. This week, it is a humble effort to show that even human way is no better. Bottom-line? – No Hope! J)

The day you have signed on the dotted line endowing a substantial part of your pay packet to performance linked incentive (PLI) you are doomed. Take it from me. I am not talking about increment – a chunk of your future denied but incentive – a part of your past robbed.

Most of us would have had the wool pulled over our eyes. There is no shame in admitting it, for our ilk has the strength in numbers, if nothing else. At the last straw poll, the head count stood at a comfortable 99.87%.

When we got appointment letter with the last (and least important) page coyly mumbling “salary break-up” and loudly screaming PLI – 20%, we did not wince. We grinned sheepishly, when the HR hinted how employees who do not “put their stake in the ground” or “do not wish to grow with the company” rank a shade below thugs and many notches above petty thieves. We believed naively that the company is merely holding it for safe-keep for we know not, how to manage our finances. And behold the joy in the eyes of the starving souls at home, when they see 240% at one go, than 20% every month! Wow, these guys are good with numbers!

A year later, the sheepish grin gives way to quivering lips. Belief turns into bewilderment when we sit holding the last salary check. Figures in front of us get blurred. Suddenly we hear things that are completely different from what we were feeding to the investors and announcing in public domain. “Company is in bad shape”. “”You did well, but your team/function on the whole slipped”. “We have invested more in you than we got in return” “None in the company is paid a dime”.

“Where is the harvest?”, you wonder. But frankly, did you not see it coming?

You would have, if you had heard this fabulous fable at the knees of your elders. If not, lose no more time and deep-dive into the narrative.

Once upon a time, a young bloke walked into the court of a king seeking a suitable position. The king was in an indulgent mood, so he directed the administrative officer to take him on rolls as a palace guard and pay him “10 gold coins every month”, a princely sum. The young man’s joy knew no bounds and he profusely thanked the kind king. The kind king, then directed the young man to do a small task to prove his worth and mettle before he could join the duty.

“Your wish is my command, dear lord; please let me know what I have to do?” cried the lad.

“Stand over-night, neck-deep in the river flowing by the palace clad only in your loin cloth and report to duty tomorrow. Or off with your head”. The jolly king ordered thus and retired to his harem.

It was the month of December. The cold wave was at its strongest. It is the time of the year when even a rhinoceros would prefer few blankets and a cozy corner, just inches away from the crackling fire place.

The youth ventured forth jauntily. With a song on his near-blue lips he dipped his toes in the waters. Inch by freezing inch, he waded through the liquid ice and settled down in a place where he could comfortably have his head above the waters. He stood there all night, stark naked, save his loin cloth. His eyes, full of life and zest, wandered hither and thither and rested upon one of the brightly lit torches shimmering through the palace windows. He meditated upon the golden words of the king and the thoughts on the impending job. The remuneration it carried eased the cold current cutting through to his bones.

Next day morning the happy soul made his way to the king’s court and stood there quivering and expectantly. The king lifted an enquiring eyebrow at him and asked what he wanted. The youth, though taken aback a bit, narrated what transpired the previous evening and asked him for his reward. The king still groggy from the bacchanalia of the previous night and the sweet but hazy memory of a night well spent, inquired “how did you manage to walk here, without passing out”?. The youth answered that he was a happy and sturdy soul and the thought of the bounty that the morning would bring kept him from freezing to death. He also mentioned spending time looking at the brightly lit torch. “Aah, there you are now I know how you managed to stay warm and alive even in the freezing cold. The warmth from the torch of the palace! And to think that the precious oil and the high grade cotton is wasted on a vagabond like you doing meaningless chores of standing stark naked in neck-deep waters! What if you had died? They would have blamed me and not you! Glad I kept the window open, so you didn’t meet an untimely death. Now off you go, and do not ever set foot on this soil again. Else…”

Now I have heard varying versions of the same, where a wise and unwavering minister comes to the rescue of the stricken lad and gets the king to see reason and make good his promise. But I think, it’s pure fiction and humbug. Which king drunk with power ever saw reason? Or which coterie feeding off the fat of the land merrily would stake it’s all for the sake of a naïve aspirant?

I am a smart man, if not a wise being. I have a year-long supply of thermal loin clothes handy for I know winters here are much worse. And the only favor I ask my king is to ensure it’s water that he sends me to stand neck-deep into and no stinking swamp. Thank god, I indeed am blessed with a kind king.


15 Comments Add yours

  1. Zonko says:

    Scatterbrained scribblings indeed!

    You need to edit this a lot more, the post wanders a lot.

    1. ivak99 says:

      🙂 Glad that the post has lived upto the blog title. Criticism alright, now for the constructive part. Where and what and how (remedy)? 🙂

  2. Shiv Muttoo says:

    The promised manna turns into a mirage, the light at the end of the tunnel is that of the approaching express train, we are all in the same boat traveling up shit creek without a paddle. Very sad but oh so true!

  3. Ankita Ahluwalia says:

    My 2 cents on the young man in the post:

    Like all of us, not just the incentive but “trust in the king’s spoken word” pulls the naive fellow through.

    Well said – “Which king drunk with power ever saw reason?”. Nevertheless, the attitude of gratitude (towards kindness of the king in the fable) certainly diminishes the plight of all Incentive-deprived souls :).

  4. Kishore Parthasarathy says:

    Excellent read Arun!
    Our annual PA cycle starts in Apr and ends in Sep! yes it takes 6 months! You see the roads of corp bureaucracy twists and turns thru different power blocs. PLI’s are “expected” in Oct. Some wise chap(ofcourse with some fancy degrees)designed it in such a way that whenever you leave the company, you are deprived of 6 months of PLI. Am I neck deep in water?? 🙂

  5. Shirin Ara says:

    Hey Arun,

    Missed out on one thing in my comment…The meanings of the 2 i – Increment & Incentives – were super cool!!! I mean, one of the WOW factors of this article!!!

    Straight from the heart i guess 🙂

  6. Vidushi Gupta says:

    Must say,its an interesting read…nicely linked with the present day situation in Corporate world!
    I’m an Hr person..but still believe..HR people are ‘Cold Blooded Animals’.
    Employees working at the mercy of their respective employers..still not reaping the benefits they deserve(goes for the Hard Working Emp.)..
    The trend has changed…be a smart worker(buttering of bosses included)…or a hard worker..(unseen..)

    Infact one of my friend who’s a true Intellect…truely a hard worker…is leaving the job…because he’s no more required in organisation..inspite of the fact..he got the best rating in his PA..!!!

    Irony continues…

  7. Mateen Hamza says:

    quite blunt but close to reality. nicely written by Arun.

  8. Pinky says:

    How about On-Target-Earnings?
    I think this is still very relevant to “Performance” Linked Incentive 🙂

  9. ivak99 says:

    @Rajani an interesting twist to the tale and a great perspective – claiming w/o actually doing! And as you so acutely observed, there are many who do getaway with all the booty@stake 🙂 Re butter, i am a bit sceptic about where it’s applied. Mind you, though most do like to be buttered some expect one to apply it on oneself! Stranger are the ways…
    @Karthik Thanks sir. Kamikaze indeed, cos unlike harakiri where the damage is limited to the idiotic bloke who commits it, Kamikaze takes the whole platoon with it 🙂
    Impotency still may have cure – jareebooti, self-hypnosis, baba-bengali…but not castration 😀
    @Shirin there’s nothing much that i can offer to those working with drunken king’s except to say get sick-overalls (ala sick-bags). Cos one only has sparse clothing on self.
    @Anupama colorful language and a neat observation
    @Neha thanks am still not worth the adulation 🙂

  10. Neha Thakkar says:


    intouch with reality

  11. Anupama says:

    Splendid! LOL to “when the HR hinted how employees who do not “put their stake in the ground” or “do not wish to grow with the company” rank a shade below thugs and many notches above petty thieves.”
    Our HR Prof would always say “HR is for assholes”. But I believe there are some decent companies/bosses who are straight forward. But, there are many more who are not…

  12. Shirin Ara says:

    🙂 good one !!! cool relating of a tale with reality!!!

    Poor guy…He met the set performance standards but still got kicked out!!!

    So whats the way out Arun??? You are lucky to have a kind king…What about people who have “Kings drunk with power”?? :-)Any suggestions for em?

  13. Haaaa; We will never learn; you can excuse those who were once bitten twice shy and do a course correction when changed jobs. What about those who do commit worse than Kamikaze; the third time when you hear”AREY; be lucky you have a job to get Pay cheque- Forget incentives / Bonus”…. Can’t even condemn them to hell!! I guess. Worse than Fire fly……

    The sad part is there are lot of TOPICHANDS out there.

    Good story; enlivens a bit and falls in to depression over the impotency to do a thing to change….


    Yet another masterpiece from the genius……

    Although an obvious sequel to the previous article on PA…this one drives home the facts of PLI and the hopes and aspirations associated with a ”good” PA(exceeded expectations, meets expectations, etc), more clearly…

    Just wonder….what if the lad, had lied to the king the next day, that he had complied with the command, without actually tormenting himself thus….Since the king was blissfully unaware of anything, in his harem, would he have found out? Spies…..but ofcourse….they are ubiquitous, arent they??
    In any organisation, there are those, whose hard work and sincerity, goes unnoticed…..there are the (very street smart)others, who know” which side of the bread to butter”and manage to get away with hefty PLI….rather Non-Performing but Loaded with incentives….

    So, my friend, either learn to smear better butter or you have to content with the bitter….

    Thanks for this lovely article Arun….Just finished my PA….now waiting for the PLI.


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