postcards.gifLas Vegas can be a nice place to visit. But not if your plane ticket was to Los Angeles.

On occasion, some of my team members will advance the argument that they wants kudos or a bonus for getting “close to” their goals.

My response is generally some version of “Las Vegas is a very nice place, but the goal was Los Angeles.”

The message I am trying to send is that even if you get a project or task 95% done, much of the value is lost when the last bit is not accomplished. Would you want to travel on a bridge 95% complete? Willingly live in a house with the roof stopping 95% of the water? Want electricity that worked 95% of the time? Put up for long with a car that started 19 times out of 20? I know my mortgage holders won’t accept a check that is 95% of the amount due.

There is a secondary message as well: Often the first 95% is the easiest. The hardest work (and thus the bonus, the greatest praise) often lies in the last few percentage points. I do not give bonuses for base work, foundational performance, B or even B+ work. Bonuses are for the last few percentage points of accomplishment. It’s performance that counts.

Don’t try to spin how nice Las Vegas is to me. You lose credibility. If you promise Los Angeles, if the goal is Los Angeles, if the target is Los Angeles, then deliver Los Angeles.