What's your problem?

We were sent a memo at work saying that we'd receive bonuses this year. I've since got my monthly pay package, and the bonus amount is tiny.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I'm mortified because I think our bonuses might be related to performance, in which case someone obviously thinks I'm doing a poor job. No-one has made it clear to us what the bonus relates to or how it's calculated. But I'm wary of approaching my boss, who's a notoriously bad manager and will probably dismiss my concerns. What should I do?

I'm not sure from what you tell me whether this boss is simply your immediate boss or is the ultimate, big-banana boss. If he's the big boss - and he's a notoriously bad manager - you should have started looking around a long time ago. If he's just your line manager, it's still tricky, but he's very unlikely to be responsible for the company's overall bonus policy.

Nobody should be kept in the dark about their performance rating: it leads to sleepless nights and saps the confidence. And you must be right in thinking that bonuses should be related to performance and have some semblance of logic behind them: you shouldn't be left trying to work it out yourself.

So rather than raise the bonus issue immediately, put in a polite but firm request for a formal performance review. If your company finds that totally unreasonable, then intensify your job search right away. And if you do get the review, you'll have a much better basis for judging the equity - or otherwise - of your derisory bonus.


Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of both the Guardian Media Group and WPP.

Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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