Persecuted during bonus discussion

Plundit's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 19

Hi guys, not here to rant here (as I'll be moving on) but wanted to seek your perspective on this matter and for public awareness, not here to air dirty laundry. In the interest of time, the first part will be on my background and second on the situation.

I'm from a small VC shop, a country in the EM, leading the team of junior analyst. Have been doing deals quite actively, closed five in the first 1.5 years, with more to come. Am the early employee, established the internal investment processes, did the fundraising deck, seen over 1k deals (primary - seed to pre-IPO, secondaries of unicorns, etc). Don't have a BB experience, but been around long enough to know MDs, VPs, associates from BBs/MBBs. Never had the opportunity to join one though, or rather I was not determined enough. I guess I just don't have the mojo. But on a side note, I do help people to get into the industry: an internship into an MBB and a VC, and full-time offer in a large corporate CF team.

That aside, things seem funny one day when the partners decide to have a review session out of the blue. I mean I was never expecting any bonus anyway, as they have always been saying "we need a new fund" although we did manage to close a new fund. Another reason is they are extremely cost-conscious with everything and would flout rules just to get their way to avoid paying for even the most menial things. The ethos is clear, don't pay if it's not necessary, hence my extremely low expectation. Same goes for comp, been having at least five meetings with the partner I report to, and he seem to avoid the topic despite working beyond my pay grade.

Back to the review session: it was a total interrogation, not just by one but all partners. Does it feel like a setup? Totally. It's like one of the scenes from the movie Mayhem starring Steven Yeun where shit is getting real and you just got to step up your game to face the bosses. I saw it coming because I was the last going in, and everyone had the 'WTF' look and told me the room is cold, like literally. Brought a jacket in (not Patagonia) because they blasted the AC right into my face, like a real criminal interrogation.

To cut it short, it goes along the line of "Your performance was shit, you don't deserve more" to "We don't want it to be about the money, you still have to fulfill your responsibility as an employee" when I defended myself. Seriously? Everyone had a similar conversation, even the clueless juniors, and 'not looking bad' depends on how much you can amp up your lawyer game. Apologise as I can't reveal more than this.

My question is: how common is this in the industry and... Do I deserve this?

Comments (6)

Mar 3, 2019

If what you're saying is true and your performance was not sub-par (you know this better than us), it's time to look for the eject button.

Mar 4, 2019

Even if your performance was subpar (which it doesn't sound like it was based on your description), the culture sounds toxic and I'd look to leave regardless

Mar 4, 2019

Yes -- time to leave.

Mar 4, 2019

In the majority of situations, reviews shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Sure, there will be the little thing here and there, but the meat and potatoes of it should be common knowledge. My speculation here is that there is highly likely something significant going on behind closed doors that you and the other junior staff aren't privileged to. Furthermore, if you were so terrible at your job, as mentioned in the review, they should fire you on the spot or tell you to look for a new job. It sounds like they are trying to use emotional and psychological tactics to get you to stay, not pay you, and portray you as a subpar employee. If you haven't already, I would start discretely looking for another job. I've seen variations of these tactics used against myself, other colleagues, and friends and is a clear red flag of a toxic culture and likely dysfunctional organization.

Mar 15, 2019

I worked somewhere a lot like this in a past life. Basically if they say you suck they can rationalize and try making you feel like you dont deserve a bonus or more money.

It's a huge character flaw, and a better group of people would just own up to being cheap or not having the budget

Mar 15, 2019