Some months ago my previous manager left and now I report to someone else who is in another country. Two months ago I had the opportunity of meeting him in person, we had a meeting and he promised me the full bonus as he said he couldn't evaluate my objectives, he didn't even go through them.

This week I received a letter from HR confirming I will receive the half bonus. I approached him and he said he doesn't remember what he said, he blamed someone else, and said he is going to check. I feel he is fooling me and buying time, I feel betrayed because I left the meeting trusting his words but he did something behind my back.

Do I have some rights? Can I report him or something like that?

  • 2
    Why do you think he is buying time? Time until what happens? – Gregory Currie Mar 21 at 14:27
  • @Henrique You know promising a bonus is never 100%. A bonus can be added and revoked at any point, as long as you're still getting your base pay. – Twyxz Mar 21 at 14:37
  • @JoeStrazzere Yeah, seems there are some details of that conversation that would be interesting to know - like, blamed who? and check what? There could be a legit reason for what happened. – user41891 Mar 21 at 18:15
  • Do you have this promise in writing, or was it just a verbal conversation? – David K Mar 22 at 19:49

Here's the thing about a bonus: A bonus is a bonus. Bonuses are not guaranteed, that's why it's a bonus given based on various factors and not a salary written into your contract.Your manager doesn't have to honour anything about a bonus, unless it is written down in a formal way and approved by the payroll department. Do not judge your personal finances on the assumption of getting a bonus, and do not judge your current employment based on the theoretical size of a future bonus that might never materialize.

As to whether or not you think your manager lied to you, you have 2 choices:

1) Your manager is a liar. In which case, you can't trust him for anything; once a liar, then there is always the suspicion of lying about anything, so you can't fully trust a liar. But you need to be able to trust your manager to work in the best interest of their team, to make sure your tasks are prioritized and scoped correctly so you can do your work. If you can't trust your manager, time to find a new manager, via internal or external transfer.

2) Your manager is not a liar. In which case, give him the benefit of the doubt. You can be upset with him because maybe you think he broke his promise, but you should assume it wasn't a targeted attack against you. As above, your bonus is not a promise, and any promise of a bonus is only as good as the paper it's printed on; if it's not printed on paper then it's not any good. I think you've learned that lesson.


People lie. Mangers lie. You need to accept that. Anyway:

You actually have no idea what has happened in two months.

The companies profits could have dropped. His boss could have spoken to him and asked him to cut bonuses. He could have legitimately forgot. He could have redone his maths and realized it isn't possible. There are a heap of reasons why it's not as bad as you think.

Reporting on your manager should only ever be done if you have a serious grievance. A lot of the time it's a career ending move for the employee. Especially if it's your word against his.

In any case, he can simply say he changed his mind. He is entitled to do that.

Two months ago, your expectations were inflated, now reality has struck. You are really no worse off than you were then.

You should put your head down and work hard and make it impossible for him to avoid giving you a full bonus next time around.

  • Well, I don't believe is something related to companies profits as it is something confirmed and informed before we get information about the bonus. What I mean is we already knew the company achieved their goals and we would get the 100% related to the company part. I also have a colleague who received the full bonus. – Henrique Mar 21 at 14:37
  • Companies also have to project profits. They may have done well the previous year, but a major client could have ended their contact for the coming year. My point is it's a lot more complicated that it would seem. – Gregory Currie Mar 21 at 14:39
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    @Henrique I think you're missing the point, as one of the main ideas of this answer is that you don't know why things haven't turned out the way your manager promised. Knocking down a couple of specific possibilities doesn't change that. It's a mistake to assume that your boss has maliciously denied you your bonus, unless you have more information than you've presented here. And even if you're sure your boss was malicious, a verbal promise of a bonus is not the same as an enforceable guarantee of the bonus, as has been pointed out here. – Upper_Case Mar 21 at 14:45

If you have no written proof it's your word against his. I would advise against reporting him.

Since it's a first offence I would advise you to give him the benefit of the doubt and leave him time to clarify the situation. However in the future always have promises of bonuses, raises, etc.. written down in an email or a signed paper.


It sounds like you should give it a few days to figure out what's going on. But beyond that- how important are you to the organization? If I thought I deserved a promised bonus and they didn't, I'd offer to resign and let them find a better fit if I wasn't worthy of the bonus. Of course when you play hardball you have to accept the possibility that they let you follow through with it.

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