Sandbagger, Beggar, Martyr, Scrooge…and Other Budget-time Personas

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Sandbagger, Beggar, Martyr, Scrooge…and Other Budget-time Personas

By Anna MaskerIn standard3rd December, 2015

iStock_000016484724_FullIt’s December, and I REALLY should be writing about how important it is to set a realistic budget for the new year.  I know I should write about the proper methodologies for deriving the budget, and how it’s critical for business growth… blah, blah, blah.

But I just can’t.

I can’t because frankly, I’m sitting here chuckling to myself thinking of the CIRCUS that the budgeting process can be in organizations.  Seriously, when you take a step back and look how individuals assume different personalities during this process it is really quite funny.

There is no other time of the year when gamesmanship, politicking negotiating, and whining come to the forefront than when a company is setting its goals for the year and tying people’s compensation to it.

If you take a step back you will see reserved people come out of their shell, dominant personalities become even stronger, the drama and the grumbling in the halls can be comical at times.  And it happens every year like clockwork!

Over the years I think I can safely say people fall into the following categories:

The optimist:  This is generally the owner.  Typically they have some extraordinary growth targets and they are convinced they will achieve them.  20-30% growth rate in a year? No problem.  It doesn’t matter that their market is flat. Driven by gut instinct and vision they don’t spend too much time thinking about how things will be accomplished.

The whiner: These are the folks that, no matter what number you give them, take issue.  They are the ones who may be overly dramatic and are often the most vocal about how the optimist’s number is absolutely unattainable.

The martyr:  This poor soul takes the number and takes one for the team but lets you know about it.  Often overheard from the martyr is how they have to pick up the slack for lagging departments, sales people etc.

The Scrooge:  I’ll admit this is often the accounting department.  They take the optimist’s numbers and try to make them work with the resources that they have.  Two favorite sayings of theirs are “there’s no way it can be done” and “no you can’t get another (headcount, 10 grand for marketing, ____ )”.  A favorite of mine is “does he/she think I’m a magician?”

The sandbagger:  If I had to generalize, these are typically the sales people who low-ball their numbers in order to protect their commissions.  Ask them how growth will be and they’ll be saying how miserable the market is, how price sensitive their customers are and how the competition is eating their lunch.

The beggar:  These are the people who “absolutely positively” cannot achieve the numbers given to them without putting out their hand for more resources more money and more people.

So do any of these sound familiar?  The funny thing about all these personas is that they come out primarily during budget season as everyone is jockeying to advance their own personal and departmental agendas.  The tension can be palpable, especially because compensation is being tied to these goals.


In the end, after all of the drama and negotiations, the budget gets set and the year begins.  Everyone settles into their new routine and numbers and gets to work.  For the most part, they put away their budget-time personas until next year… when the process begins again!


Do you have any other personas you see in your company?


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