Bummed About Your Bonus? Don't Moan

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If you're eagerly anticipating a fat bonus, take a moment to plan how you'll respond if your rosy expectations aren't fulfilled.

A thoughtful and upbeat response can help maintain your standing in the company and might even boost your chances of a bigger payday next year, The Wall Street Journal says.

Upset? If you must vent, talk to your significant other - not co-workers. Doing so alerts them you got the shaft, thereby lowering your status among peers and superiors alike. "It can feel good to commiserate with co-workers, but maintaining a positive attitude at a time when most people are disgruntled will help you stand out," the Journal observes.

Are you clueless why your bonus was so small? Asking what you can do to make it bigger next year is smarter than asking why it's so meager. The former gets your boss thinking you're a go-getter. The later tags you as a disgruntled whiner.

Focus on the Company's Needs

Try to position yourself as a team player by describing or inquiring how you can help the company. For instance, the WSJ suggests asking what you can do to help bring bonuses back for everyone or how you can play a bigger role moving forward.

Getting a little bonus is like going from playing to sitting the bench on a sports team. You don't respond by working less, you respond by figuring out what you need to do to play the game better and then you practice harder and longer.

What if you really were inappropriately compensated for your results? You can ask for a review and a bump to a specific figure, if you can come up with evidence as to why you deserve a bigger cut of the profits. That evidence might include industry-wide salary data, examples of your contributions to the bottom line, or anything else that supports your request.

On the other hand, it is possible that your little bonus is the company's way of telling you how little they value your contribution. Or it could be that your employer's fortunes are spiraling downhill and won't recover.

In the final analysis, anyone has just two ways to respond to a disappointing bonus: suck it up and stay, or move on. Either way, hiding your disappointment and working harder to improve your performance will not only improve the journey, it will improve your chances of landing a fat bonus next year.