If you’re now scrambling to pull out a great performance review and merit increase for the year-end, you may be too late. Develop and implement your strategy about a month or two before the review. Your preparation will determine the outcome.
Bosses tend to have short memories when it comes to performance reviews. “What have you done for me lately?” seems to be the narrative, rather than “What has been your contributions for the past year?” Performance reviews should center on what you and your boss mutually viewed as objectives a year ago, then adjusted every few months. These initial objectives will modify given the realities of a dynamic organization. If you have no mutually set objectives with your boss, you’re at the mercy of a subjective performance review that is more dependent upon your relationship with you boss than actual results.
Performance should be reviewed against objectives that are reasonable and achievable, with a “kicker” for stretch results. Get them in writing. Objectives set in stone with no flexibility is a recipe for disappointment. Keep excellent records of your achievements with special emphasis on metrics. Ask your internal/external clients/customers to assess and document your contribution to their results. It’s amazing the power of your support to someone else’s progress. Fill out a performance review beforehand as objectively as you can, with your results as you view them prior to meeting with your boss. Give it to your boss a week or so before your meeting. You may jog your boss’s memory on items forgotten, while influencing the outcome at the same time.
Go back to your work calendar to recall projects or meetings you may have forgotten, then:
- Develop a list of important milestones where you have achieved meaningful results
- Use your position description to make sure all of your responsibilities are covered
- Define the results in each area with documents and metrics, if possible
For the past few years, pay growth has been curtailed. Now, however, pay is accelerating due to the growing economy and competition for talent that has forced compensation expansion. The marketplace is opening up once again. People are looking for better opportunities, so your skill sets will determine the type and level of jobs open to you.
Since there has been a downward pressure on pay, you might want to ask questions like:
- “Is there an incentive bonus possible based on my future high performance?”
- “Can there be a 6 month performance and merit review, instead of annually?”
- “Is there an added step in my responsibilities than can convey a higher pay level?”
Even if the answers are “no”, you’ve created a mind-set with your boss for the coming year.
When negotiating for pay, always be prepared with industry ranges based on years of experience so you’re not being underpaid.
For next year, document your activities, responsibilities, projects and results. It’s surprising how memories fade over time.
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