Feel like your annual review is out of your hands? Here’s how to gain control so you can get what you want from your job.
Annual review day. You walk to your boss’s office feeling like it’s the school spelling bee. It could be rewarding and a boost of confidence, or you could feel like everyone’s judging you and perhaps go back to your desk feeling like a dope.
Most of us sleepwalk through our reviews. You walk in. Sit down. Listen to the boss speak. He tells you how great you are, but budgets only have limited space this year. You nod. Say stuff like “I understand,” “that’s okay,” “the economy is tough,” all this low-confidence verbiage. At the end, you get up, shake hands and go back to your cubicle, two percent raise in hand, to text your spouse about how disappointed you are.
What just happened? You got your handout and settled back into quasi-contentment. Let’s change that.
How to Take Control of Your Review
It’s called YOUR review because it’s about you. Your accomplishments, career path, happiness, etc. When you zombie through it, the focus shifts away from you. You have the potential to gain so much more by finding the confidence and to do more.
So here are a few tips to help you do just that:
1. Research beforehand
The worst thing you can do at your performance review is to . If you are, you’re lost.
Instead, research and brainstorm:
- New ideas to implement for your position.
- Steps that could improve the department as a whole.
- Everyone’s favorite: SALARY. (How much should you be making? to figure that out.)
You could focus on just one or all three of these areas, whichever you’re most passionate about. The important thing is that you show the boss you’re ready.
Think about how impressed you would be if someone said, “I believe if we implement this new idea, it would increase this department’s morale and efficiency. By the way, I took the time to do the research beforehand to show you how it would work, if you want to take a look through it.”
Who would say no to that?
2. Say “thank you” and smile
Always show your boss you appreciate everything, including your (measly) two percent raise. Thank him for his guidance and for allowing you to thrive in your position.
Also, smiling will further relax all parties. Never be confrontational; be thankful.
3. Express your desire to be a top performer
Show your ambition to be a top performer, and ask how you can help make your boss’s job easier. If you can think of examples based on your research, this is a perfect opportunity to offer them.
Figure out where you can insert value beyond your job description. You’ll be surprised by the results!
4. Have stories handy
Your boss is busy, so he doesn’t have the time to remember every detail about your time at the company. That means it’s up to you to have the meat of your material ready to go.
Prepare three to five stories about how you helped the company, saved them money, made them money, got your boss out of a stressful spot or whatever other positive moves you made. These don’t need to be long, just 10- to 15-second stories that show your value. People like stories because they draw them in and give them examples. Plus, they’re more likely to remember your skills if they’re part of a story.
5. Use the right words to negotiate
Ramit Sethi of has awesome scripts on negotiation. He says the use of words is critical in keeping the ball in your court.
When you go to you can say: “Thank you for the raise. It’s been a great experience for me, and I’m excited to take on those new tasks we talked about. I’d like to discuss further the salary adjustment, if I could?”
You can then pull out your research and share the numbers, saying, “It would be great to find a fair adjustment that could work for us both based on the results I’ve mentioned.” Ramit develops these scripts by testing certain words for responses and studying the
6. Follow up regularly
If you don’t hear a definite answer to your salary proposal in a week, send a quick, friendly email saying you would be happy to meet to discuss anything further. If a couple of weeks go by, take a minute to go visit your boss in person and calmly reiterate your value.
7. See the positives if the answer is “no”
You might come up empty. But consider what you have going for you now. Your boss knows you’re different from everyone else. You took charge, and your boss will remember and respect that.
If you’re a top performer, the boss will want to keep you, so the next time will probably end up differently. You’ve built your self-confidence, and you have the knowledge you need to the next time around.
What has helped you succeed during your performance review?
Joe Cassandra is the Founder of the , where he shows you how to attack your life with the mindset of an entrepreneur in the areas of personal finance, careers, starting your own business and much more. You can follow him on .