The holidays are great, but there’s one last bit of stress remaining—the annual review. While it’s a relatively strong job market, there are plenty of things that companies are concerned about. Corporate executives are worried about the ramifications of tariffs and trade wars with China, nonstop political bickering and the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential elections.
There are concerns that the stock market is due for a sell-off or correction and a recession is long overdue. As an employee, you’re afraid of all of the new trends of nearshoring and offshoring jobs to lower-cost places, the cost-cutting of people with the nexus of being over 40 years of age and earning a nice income and the push for technology to take over the jobs of workers.
With these real fears in mind, you’re forced to face your boss at the end of the year to have the annual review and discuss dollars and cents.
There are many employees who are in the right job in the right sector and feel really good about this time of year. They know that they have killed it at work and exceeded all expectations. Their skills are highly sought after and it would be easy to find another job with a competitor for more money. These types of employees hold all of the best cards in their hands.
You believe that you have worked hard, did a great job and deserve a raise and bonus. It sounds simple in your head. When it’s time to actually sit across the desk from your boss, it’s not so easy. It’s an uncomfortable conversation filled with potential landmines.
Let’s start with what you should never do in your annual review. Oftentimes, employees believe that they must get a promotion, raise and large bonus for just showing up. Their attitude and demeanor are turn-offs to the manager.
Here’s what you shouldn’t say:
- “If I don’t get the money I have asked for, I’m quitting!”
- “Jane earns a base salary of $123,612. I’m so much better than Jane, so I should get a raise to $150,000.”
- “I have bills, tuition payments and car payments!”
- “I’ve been here for over 15 years!”
- “I’ve Googled how much people with my job title earn, so you should pay me what Google says they earn too.”
- “I’m the only one who really works around here!”
- “I do your job for you!”
- “I don’t care if the company is not doing well, It’s not my fault.”
- “Well, if you don’t pay me more, I won’t work as hard.”
Here’s what you should do instead. You want to enter the manager’s office armed with indisputable data, facts and information that highlight everything you’ve accomplished over the last year. Explain what was expected of you and validate how you have met and exceeded those expectations. You need to cite your achievements, including how you have helped your boss succeed, and made sizable contributions to the company.
The key is to start working on the annual review at the beginning of the year. On a daily basis, ensure that your boss and other important decision makers recognize your Herculean efforts and accomplishments. Be careful, as you don’t want to come across too obvious about it. Otherwise, they’ll think you are just trying to curry favor and gaming the system.
Your pitch is based upon tangible results. You are not asking for any favors nor are you petulantly demanding something you don’t deserve. You are politely, but firmly, presenting your case in a calm and deliberate manner that sets forth all of the reasons and rationale as to why the company should want to pay you more money.
Try to sound confident, upbeat and enthusiastic. If you drone on with just data points, you will lose your audience. You want your boss to view you as a superstar performer who is excited to come into the office everyday and shine.
The goal is to have your manager recognize that you are a valuable and irreplaceable asset to her and the organization. She’ll understand that it’s necessary to offer you more money, a larger bonus and promotion. If she doesn’t, your manager knows that there is a risk that you’ll leave to join a competitor or lose your enthusiasm and not perform as well in the future.
You also need to be realistic. There may be times when you do a phenomenal job, but the circumstances at the company make it difficult to financially reward everyone who deserves it. If this happens to you, don’t get upset. Politely inquire as to why you weren’t offered a promotion and increase in title. It may turn out that your manager would have loved to; however, it was out of her hands since the company is in cost-cutting mode. If this is truly the case, try to reach an agreement in which you will be rewarded in the near term or future when the fortunes of the company turn around. Ask if there are any nonfinancial rewards that could be offered instead, such as more vacation days, flexible work schedules, the ability to work at home or anything else that you’d appreciate and be happy with the outcome.
If the company is doing well financially and you believe your manager is making phony excuses, it may be a signal to pursue other opportunities.