Sanu Miah Head & Shoulder ShotMany banking professionals will soon be sitting down with their lines managers to discuss their 2020 performance and “reward” i.e., pay increases and bonuses.

This time round there’s likely to be a massive sense of anticipation in the City given the COVID-19-crisis we’re living through and the impact this is having on the global economy. For instance, with some of the UK’s most high-profile banks having already reported the fact that their bonus pools will be smaller this year and others expected to follow suit there’s plenty of reason to be pessimistic.

For those of you who are new to the “annual compensation review” conversation pencilled into your diaries, or those of you who are preparing yourselves to see what 2021 has in store, below are our top five tips on how to process and manage any potentially disappointing outcomes.

  1. If the news isn’t what you expected e.g., “you won’t be getting a bonus/pay increase this year” or the bonus/pay increase you’ll be getting is significantly lower than what you were expecting avoid throwing your teddies out of the pram and taking it out with your line manager and/or HR. You’ll only end up saying something that you may later regret. In most cases they would rather give you better news but sometimes it’s outside their control. Try to acknowledge this and play nice, they’re only human. You being reasonable and kind won’t be forgotten.
  2. Stay calm. Now is not the time to let your emotions run away with you and do something rash like handing in your resignation. Take some time and give yourself proper headspace to think clearly and rationally about it all.
  3. Gain perspective. It is of course disappointing to hear bad news but do try to remember that we’re living through some of the toughest economic conditions in living memory. Therefore, it’s probably not entirely your individual contribution that’s at fault. Much more likely, it’s the result of your organisation’s overall performance. That’s just business. In addition, it’s worthwhile reminding yourself of the fact that so many people out there are going through much worse.
  4. Don’t let disappointment poison your performance going forward. Once you calm down and allow the emotions of the previous days to evaporate away re-focus on your work and continue to give 100% to whatever you do. If you don’t, you’ll only be laying the foundations for future failure.
  5. This last one is for anyone reading this who is lucky enough to get a bonus/pay increase, be gracious and mindful of other people’s feelings because not everyone will be as fortunate.

In conclusion here are a few final thoughts.

Look you can get angry, shout, and argue but at the end of the day what purpose do such behaviours really serve? Sure, you may get short-term satisfaction by venting your frustrations, but in the long run they’re unlikely do you any favours. If you strongly feel that something has genuinely gone awry, your better option is to calmly finish the conversation with your line manager and ask to put some time in their diary, at a later date (hopefully when everyone is calmer), to talk through your annual compensation.

Ahead of the follow-up meeting really think about what you’d like to walk away with. Then do some advance preparation by asking yourself some searching questions, including, “were my expectations realistic”, “what is happening in the wider market” or “what are my options?”.

Whatever happens, keep your head up and look forward.

Sanu Miah, founder