If you’re reasonably happy with where you work, the first thing you should do before your annual performance review is consider the sort of salary you are seeking, and / or consider if there is the potential for a promotion. From there, if you approach it in the right manner and have the right arguments ready, you can view your performance review as a great opportunity. The most important part of achieving this is to think of ways to showcase your value.
A salary increase is more than the market
Sure, you can use the market as a broad gauge of what people are being valued at, but you can’t simply say that because the market is paying XYZ, you are worth XYZ too. Be prepared to prove that you’re worth the top value in the market, as you won’t receive it automatically. For example, you’ll need to prove that you’re as good as, if not better than, the other Site Manager who’s earning $200K.
Yes, the market is willing to pay at that value. Still, your argument should be based on why you add enough value to the business to be paid at the top of the market. It’s all about the context of the market because it’s also paying $170K. Your argument should be around why you should receive the higher pay, not the lower pay, by detailing what sets you apart.
This could be based on reviewing your year of all the things you’ve done successfully (big and small), all the challenges you’ve overcome, and achievements you’ve had – based on real examples. Things like a Contract Administrator getting an important variation sorted, a Site Engineer managing a design issue that went pear shaped, a Project Manager achieving extra margin out of a project, or a Foreman getting back time in the programme.
Salary and a promotion
Don’t forget to weigh up to see if there is the opportunity to increase your salary via a promotion instead of seeking a salary increase per se. If you feel the opportunity exists, make this a part of your conversation, and similar to above, detail the value you could bring to the business. For example, you may be seeking to go from Cadet to CA to Senior CA or to PM, or from an SE to a PE to Design Manager or PM, or work your way from Leading Hand to Foreman to SM. The point is to come armed with a list of your achievements that can prove you are able to step up into these higher paying roles.
Showing your value is more than responsibilities
Remember, everyone in the same role will have similar skills and responsibilities. An employer will judge you according to what others in the same position do within and outside the business. This is why it’s important to show real performance-related arguments, explaining how, on your last project, you achieved ‘XYZ’ and how that benefitted the company, or completed tasks ‘ABC’, which were beyond your role requirements. In other words, talk to them about how you are adding additional value to the project and the business as a whole.
Another good argument could be to mention the extra responsibility you’ve taken on since your last review. Be clear about the tasks you weren’t doing a year ago but are doing now. For example, as a CA, you took on some extra responsibilities of a PM. Or it could be simple things like being part of the QA Committee reviewing the QA Handbook. So, anything pointing to where you’ve extended yourself beyond your current role would be a fair way to raise your value and explain why you feel you should earn more.
Business considerations – a two-way street
Do keep in mind though, that just because you’ve done well on your project, doesn’t mean that the business is doing well. There has to be that consideration of the wider business, but also in return, the business needs you to explain what you have achieved on your project that has added value for the company above the standard expectations of your role. It’s a balance between the two. So, it’s important to be prepared with arguments of your value attached to concrete examples, communicated clearly and calmly, and not in a demanding manner.
It’s not always about the salary
If the business cannot afford a substantial salary increase, it’s also good to think about benefits that sit outside of salary that may hold value for you in your overall package. Examples such as a hybrid working environment, or a change of hours on days to fit in with your children’s needs etc. In this light, view your performance review as an opportunity where you don’t need to necessarily change employers to change an employment circumstance, especially if you are relatively happy with where you are currently working.
Finally, try to create a positive experience
A positive performance review will be a mutually productive discussion about your career, your next steps, what you need to get there, and how you’ve progressed. Within that framework, you can articulate what your worth is to the company and be in a better position for a potential pay rise / promotion.
What you want to try and avoid as much as possible, is letting the conversation turn into an outright ‘you versus them’ debate with your employer ie. with you on the pro side and them on the con side.
Most performance reviews sit somewhere in the middle, and it is therefore wise to come prepared with your pro arguments but also to be armed with rebuttals to any potential cons that may be raised. This way, you can keep the conversation moving and make it a mostly positive experience.
Keep the discussion with your employer positive. Focus on how you have been performing and what value that provides the company and its performance.
It allows you to demonstrate your impact on a business by telling the person about your achievements, and the challenges you have overcome, rather than just detailing your responsibilities, which everyone in your role has. Be that learning other people’s positions, contributing to company culture by helping organise work events, assisting with implementing new systems in the business, etc.
These are the main things we recommend you prepare beforehand. And if you show that you’ve thought about your value and why, you’ll have a really strong argument where it will be hard for them to say ‘no’. These concrete examples of your value are how you can add power to your next performance review.
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