Finishing Strong: Your Review & Salary Negotiation

Back in September, we wrote a piece on three things you should do a few months before an upcoming performance review or salary negotiation. Then in October we shared a handy worksheet to help you get organized for your upcoming review.

Now you’re finally at the stage where your performance review conversation is coming up! So what next?

1. Get organized & finalize your goal.

Take all your work from the last few months and get organized. If you’ve filled out our two-page worksheet you should be all set.

  • Have all your highlights & accomplishments from the year compiled.
  • Have your areas of success and growth opportunities ready to go. 
  • Make sure you know what your end goal is for the conversation.
    • Is it to get a raise, and if so, how much?
    • Is it to get a title bump or an increase in management responsibilities?
    • Is it to work from home one day a week?

You want to ensure your goal is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely)? You can’t know how to proceed if you don’t know where you’ve been and where you want to go.

2. Practice the Conversation

Even the best communicators know they’re more confident when they have prepared for a challenging or high-stakes conversation ahead of time.

Think about how the conversation might begin...
Will your manager ask you for your thoughts on the last six months and how things are going? Or will they start by telling you what they think has gone well over the last few months?

If you don’t know, be prepared for both versions of the conversation. Regardless, at some point you’ll probably be asked to talk about what’s gone well and where there are areas improvement.

First, write down some bullet points for the key points you want to reference.

After all the accomplishments this year has brought, and the success we’ve had as a team, I’d like to discuss a salary increase.

Second, actually practice saying it out loud. It will probably sound a bit awkward when it comes out the first time, and that’s why you want to practice. Rehearsing something helps solidify the content it in your mind so you can focus on the delivery. Asking for a $5,000 raise can feel awkward so know exactly how you want to phrase the ask. 

Third, once you feel good about what you want to communicate, or how you'd like to phrase your ask grab someone who you trust and do a practice round. They can give you feedback on your delivery and content. Another perspective always helps!

Plus, they can help ensure you’re ready for a variety of different questions.

3. Prepare for other questions

It may be hard to know exactly what your manager might ask you, but it’s always good to review some common questions. And there are some managers out there that might ask you for feedback on how they’re doing as your manager.

Here are a few common ones that you might get during the conversation:

How can I help you succeed over the next year?
What do you think will be your most challenging task or project next year and what support can I give you on it?

What do you think works well with our working relationship and where do you see room for improvement?
Where do you want to grow and develop over the next year?

4. Some logistics.

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • You can bring notes. This shows that you’re prepared and you are invested in making the conversation as productive as possible. Maybe don’t bring fleshed out talking points or a script, but our worksheet or other notes are A-OK.
  • Think about what you want to wear for the conversation. What outfit makes you feel confident, professional, and comfortable? Make sure it’s not in the laundry and ready to wear.
  • Timing is everything. Your manager probably wouldn’t be in the best mood to do your review if they’re coming from a stressful meeting or event. You want to get them at their best moment. And you want to be at your best as well. If you manager your boss' calendar it’s easy to schedule a time that works well for both of you. If you don’t, see if you can strategize with who ever does manage their calendar to make sure it’s a good time-slot.
  • Make sure you have at least 15 minutes before your review that’s unscheduled so you can take a walk around the block, review your notes, take some deep breaths and make sure you’re composed and organized.
  • It’s even better if you can ensure neither of you have any meetings or calls right after so that in case it goes over you’re not missing something and you have time to re-group.

4. Follow Through & ASK!

So your review is going well – your manager is pleased with your work and you’ve had a good discussion. Excellent.

If you want the good review to translate into getting a raise, you’re going to have to speak up and ASK!

Too many times I’ve see people – women in particular – find themselves leave the meeting not having discussed money. Any experienced manager will be expecting that a good review will likely mean a discussion about a raise.

You have the number in your head and you've practiced, so go for it. 

Advocate for yourself.
Make the ask.
This is the time to do it.