08.14.14
Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Dear Bonnie: Nervous in Nantucket

Editor’s Note: Dear Bonnie is our truth-telling advice column from Bonnie Siegler. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and invite our readers to submit their questions directly to: [email protected]


Dear Bonnie,

I recently hit my one-year mark at my design firm. Weeks have come—and gone—and my boss has yet to mention the anniversary, even though I expected a performance review, or at least some kind of acknowledgment (maybe even a raise)? I’m on fairly good terms with my boss, but he still intimidates me and I don’t want to seem overzealous or needy. In general I'm a fairly outspoken, independent gal, but my usual candor completely disappears in a professional environment. What should I do?

Nervous in Nantucket


Dear N,

Don’t be nervous. Relax. Talk to your boss. Today.

True, in an ideal world, every boss would keep close tabs on anniversaries and birthdays and everyone would plan reviews well ahead of time so you'd have lots of notice to prepare your questions and suggestions. In the real world, however, your boss is busy and will probably only choose to have a review with you if something is really wrong.

So, it’s up to you.

Figure out ahead of time what you'd like to discuss and then tell your boss that it's your one-year anniversary and you’d love to have a review. If you’re doing well in your job, the review will only help you to do better. There might not be something important enough for your boss to call a meeting with you about, but now that you've asked, you can find out what you could be doing differently. And, yes, you will also maybe, possibly get a raise.

If the thing holding you back is fear of a bad review, don’t let it. A bad review could be just as helpful, perhaps even more so. You'll be able to ask questions about your performance and learn how you can improve. The review could also reveal that the job isn’t such a great fit — and that's okay too. You want to work in a place where you belong and can make meaningful contributions. If it isn’t working, you should know that, know why, and figure out what to do about it.

If you are happy at your job and are, like you say, on good terms with your boss, I'm fairly certain that the review will go just fine and you'll be glad you had the conversation. Knowledge is power.

I must also add that I wasn't particularly surprised to read that you're a woman. I have been a boss for over 20 years and I don’t think a female employee has ever asked me for a raise. Ever. Men have asked lots of times. They ask for reviews and they ask for raises without hesitation. Please help me turn this around right now. Tell your girlfriends and tell them to tell their girlfriends. About a week before your work anniversary, you are to request a review. Just do it. Maybe knowing that all the other girls are going to do it will help. Your confidence will show your boss that you have initiative, among other things. Mostly, it will tell them that you are the confident, outspoken independent woman you see yourself as. And THAT woman definitely deserves a raise.

For past Dear Bonnie columns, click here.

Posted in: Dear Bonnie, Design Practice


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Bonnie Siegler Bonnie Siegler is an award-winning graphic designer. She is the founder of Eight and a Half, a multidisciplinary design studio based in New York, and before that, was the co-founder of Number Seventeen. She got her degree at Carnegie Mellon University, has taught in the graduate design programs at Yale University, RISD, and the School of Visual Arts and was the 2014 Koopman Distinguished Chair in the Visual Arts at the University of Hartford.

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