How to Respond to a Good Bonus

How to Respond to a Big Bonus | CorporetteHow do you respond to a generous year-end bonus? Here’s Reader C’s question:

I am a young lawyer, and have worked at my current firm for 1.5 years. This year, I got a generous bonus. I’d like to know what the etiquette is for responding to the bonus. Is a thank you note for the 5 partners appropriate? an in person thank you? or nothing? The envelope the check is in says “Merry Christmas -The Partners”. It is a small firm (10 lawyers, 5 partners) and I have a good relationship with the partners but would feel a bit awkward going into their offices and closing the door, just to say thank you. What about a small gift from the senior partner and his wife, (think chocolate)?

I looked in the archives for an answer to my question, but wasn’t able to find anything on point and would really like to hear any tips on this!

You and me both! I still remember the big BigLaw bonuses before the recession, and I will always remember getting my biggest bonus (back in January 2008).  We all knew the number before our individual reviews — bonuses were lockstep with class year, and a memo had been circulated to say my firm was matching the going market rates.  Still, when my reviewer said, in a very cursory manner, “Your bonus is $80,000 this year,” and I tried to graciously say “thank you,” it was followed by an awkward, cringe-worthy pause from both of us.  It just felt SO little-girl/feminine and not at all what a Captain of Industry would say. I imagined men saying something like, “Well yes, I earned it!” or “Wonderful, I can make the next payment on the yacht!” or perhaps, “Bully, let’s all go play golf!” But not “thank you.” [Read more...]

Asking Your Boss For Help With Networking

How to Get Networking Help From Your Boss | CorporetteIf you’re new in the field, should you expect your boss to introduce you to her contacts and take you to networking events? How can you ask her to start helping you network? Reader S wonders…

I’m new in my career in a small office and my boss is well established in our field. She has wonderful contacts and is a member of many associations and groups. I had hoped my boss would take me under her wing a little and be a great mentor as I learn the ropes. Unfortunately, I have not be invited to join her at any of these events. Is it appropriate to ask to be introduced to her network and to accompany her to events? I don’t want her to feel threatened that I’m looking for better opportunities, but I think it’s important to get to know the industry players as well.

Great question, S!  We’ve talked about how to network when you’re junior, how to get networking help from an adjunct professor, how to network at a conference, and how to know which networking organizations to join, but we haven’t talked about this before. [Read more...]

Planning Company Travel Six Months Away — While Secretly Pregnant

When to Tell Your Boss You're Pregnant | CorporetteWhen should you tell your boss that you’re pregnant? Are there any circumstances where you should tell your boss earlier rather than later?

My husband and I are expecting our first child. I haven’t told anyone at work yet, since we’re still in the first trimester (due in June). I’m two years into my current job, and love my company and my work.

A few big opportunities and changes just came up that may affect my plans to “break the news” about my pregnancy earlier than intended:

(1) My boss, who supports my advancement within the company, just got a new position. With a change of management, I may not have a boss who is as supportive of me, especially given that I intend to be out of the office for three months.
(2) My team is planning now for travel that must occur in the spring. Travel involves going to developing countries, which I won’t be able to do on the cusp of my third trimester.
(3) I just found out I am scheduled to present two of my biggest projects to our Board of Directors in June, which is a major career opportunity for me. This cannot be rescheduled for many reasons.

Any advice?

Congratulations, A! We’ve talked about when is the best time in your career to get pregnant, how to announce you’re pregnant, and how to negotiate maternity leave before, but your circumstances may be sufficiently different so I’m curious to hear what readers say. For my own $.02:

The standard wisdom is to wait until the end of your first trimester because the risk for miscarriage decreases then, and I really don’t think you should vary that here.  (At the very least, wait until you hear the baby’s heartbeat!)  (Readers often recommend the work/life balance book, Balance is a Crock, Sleep is For the Weak — as the authors there say about announcing early to your boss: “shut your piehole.”) To put it another way: What are you hoping will change based on your sharing your news? [Read more...]

Worlds Colliding: When Networking Groups Want You to Join a Facebook Group

Facebook networking groupCan you keep your Facebook account private from colleagues and professional friends? What is the polite way to respond when asked, as Reader E was, to join a Facebook Group for a committee she’s on?

I recently joined a committee for the local bar that organizes a fun run every year to support a local charity, which I’m excited about doing because I’m a runner myself and I really like what this charity does. Today we got an email about the first meeting, and the woman in charge asked us all to join the facebook group for this committee. I am really uncomfortable with this request. My facebook profile is almost completely locked down from my professional life. I’m not searchable, I’m not friends with any of my coworkers, and I don’t want people I work with reading it. Is her request that we join this facebook group unreasonable? Can I decline? I have a work email set up so people can communicate with me about work related things. I don’t want to use my facebook profile for it!

We haven’t talked about Facebook in a while — we talked about what to do when your boss wants to “friend” you, as well as looked at FB’s privacy settings (a long while ago — here’s a Lifehacker post on privacy settings that promises to be “always up to date”) — so I’m curious to see how much readers think the situation has changed. [Read more...]

What Not to Order at a Business Lunch

how to eat a sandwichWhat foods should you avoid ordering at a business lunch — and are sandwiches among them? Reader M has a legitimate question, but some of the Google results I found on a preliminary search made me laugh out loud (including the brilliant, if outdated, Tumblr blog, 500 Still Frames of Joe Biden Eating a Sandwich).  Here’s her Q:

What’s the proper procedure for eating a sandwich at a business lunch? Hands or knife and fork? Or should you avoid this altogether? I think you should follow the lead of your guests, but wanted to get a second opinion.

We’ve talked a lot about  different aspects of this — from our top tips for business lunches, to how to stick to your diet at a business lunch (even a gluten-free diet), and even whether you can take leftovers from a business lunch — but I don’t think we’ve explicitly talked about what to avoid ordering.  I’ll be honest — my gut reaction to Reader M’s question was that this verges on the “we’re thinking too much about this” side of things (although I was amused by the prospect of titling the post, How to Eat a Sandwich), but it’s a legitimate question — sandwiches can get super messy, with unexpected bites.  I’ve been to way too many catered group lunches (particularly as a lawyer!) where the only option was sandwiches, though, so I don’t think there’s anything inherently unprofessional about picking up a sandwich and eating it.  Still, unless we’re talking about an open face sandwich (or something obviously messy, like a drowned sandwich), a knife and fork seems like a bit much to me.  So for my $.02, I’d say to pick it up with your hands and take the smallest, most delicate bites you can — chew thoroughly and repeat.

It got me thinking, though — what things would you never order at a business lunch, readers?  [Read more...]

How to Respond to Work-Related Praise

How to Take a Compliment Gracefully | CorporetteHow do you respond when someone praises your work — without sounding like an entitled braggart (and without undermining yourself)? Reader T has a great question about compliments at work.

My question for you is, how do you respond to a co-worker (sometimes a supervisor) telling you they’ve heard great comments/feedback about your work? I’m confused as to whether this is a compliment you simply say thank you to, or is there more we should add? (i.e. I appreciate the opportunity to learn) It’s not a direct compliment, yet somehow is one. I often feel the need to justify the passed-along compliment with an explanation, yet sometimes I inadvertently undermine my own efforts and achievements.

First, that absolutely is praise, so congrats to Reader T.  I’m curious to hear what the readers say about whether you can undermine yourself with your response to praise. For my own $.02 — particularly as someone with an overactive imposter syndrome — I’ve definitely been tempted to respond with things like, “It was a team effort!” or “___ really helped by supervising me,” or “I was really lucky to find the answer so quickly!”

Maybe it’s a facet of age or experience (or just writing and reading about this stuff), but I’m pretty sure that my more recent response to any work-related praise has been (and will be) more along the following lines: Thanks. I’m glad you’re hearing good things. It was a fun project and I’m happy to get started on a new one. All said with a smile but not necessarily exclamation points. I feel like these responses don’t undermine your work by attributing luck or someone else.  Maybe it’s just me, but none of these responses really smack of WHY YES I AM A GENIUS HOW NICE OF YOU TO NOTICE.

I’m curious, readers — do you inadvertently undermine your own efforts and achievements, either by being overly humble or letting your imposter complex take over?  Do you notice other people doing it?

Pictured: Thank You, originally uploaded to Flickr by HelloJenuine (also available for sale at Etsy).