What you need to do NOW to ensure you get a year-end bonus

Once upon a time there was a relatively naïve young woman who worked really hard at her first job. She tried to do everything right and assumed that when the holiday season arrived, she’d be compensated generously in the form of a year-end bonus that matched her best efforts. She was mistaken. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was that young woman who learned the hard way that you sometimes have to draw attention to the great things you do.

A few years back I read a book called “Brag: The art of tooting your own horn without blowing it,” by Peggy Klaus. While I couldn’t quote anything from the book verbatim, I do remember the wake-up call inherent in the book- don’t wait around for others to talk up your best efforts. If you’re hoping for a fabulous holiday bonus this year and think it will magically appear in your paycheck, you might want to rethink your approach.

Many people do a great job year-round and then wait patiently to see what kind of bonus they end up with and are often disappointed. If you’re worried about being overlooked come bonus time, you might want to take a more proactive approach. “Annual reviews often take place in December and January, which means managers are determining raises and end-of-year bonuses now,” shared Microsoft Product Planning and Research Lead Ronette Lawrence. “Of course, you want to be recognized for your hard work, but how do you position yourself for that bonus or raise, without seeming boastful?” From successful strategies to “I wish I knew then” mistakes, Lawrence shares five tips to help you figure out how to demonstrate your worth and explain why you deserve a bonus.

Do Your Research

Before you sit down with your boss, Lawrence suggests that you research the average pay for people in your role, at your level, in your city. If it’s lower than your current salary, Lawrence says that you have an opportunity to “demonstrate that your work merits a bonus to fill that gap. GlassDoor.com and Payscale.com are great places to get a sense of what others are making in similar roles.”

Stand Out with Specifics

“Knowing your market value is helpful, but never approach the conversation by claiming what you think you deserve,” Lawrence cautions. “Bonuses are recognition of your improvement and importance to the company, so when you sit down with your boss, begin there. How have you impacted your team’s performance? What goals have you achieved on behalf of the team?” Where possible, tie your accomplishments directly to data.

Build a Sell Deck

If you’re the industrious type you might want to promote yourself the way you might a client’s work. “When you pitch an idea to your boss or team, you put together slides to make your case. Why not do the same for yourself?” suggests Lawrence. “Put together a few slides that highlight your accomplishments and contributions (the more data the better) and demonstrate why you have earned a bonus. Keep a record of your professional wins so you can easily paint a picture for why you deserve that year-end bonus.” There’s another plus to this one. A former government employee who prefers to remain anonymous for professional reasons shared an anecdote that makes a case for tooting your own horn. After she and her entire department were unceremoniously fired, she drafted a goodbye email to her entire team thanking them for their contributions and listing her own considerable impact. Later, she found out that her supervisor had been taking credit for her work and stopped once the email made the rounds. It’s a good idea to keep track of your accomplishments to ensure no one takes
credit for your hard work.

Practice Your Pitch

“Asking your boss for money is about as fun as a root canal; you’re going to be nervous,” Lawrence said. “I like to practice using PowerPoint Presenter Coach. After I build my sell deck, I practice my pitch. In PowerPoint, I enter Rehearsal Mode, and the AI-powered tool provides on-screen guidance for pacing and notifies me of repetitive words, filler words, and more. This practice helps me avoid reading from my notes during the meeting.” Plot twist. I had no idea you could rehearse in PowerPoint and I do a fair share of speaking engagements on a variety of dissimilar topics. It occurs to me that speaking to the people who create a product can help you in utilizing it best.

Call Out Your Commitment

“Let your boss know that you enjoy working at the company and see a future there” Lawrence advises. And while you’re at it, “Follow that statement with your desire for that year’s compensation to match your contribution.”