Turn your End of the Year Review to YOUR Advantage

Originally published to LinkedIn on November 12, 2015

Move FASTER Towards Promotions and Higher Compensation!

The end of the year performance review can be challenging and intimidating.

It's a time when you may be nervous going into the conversation, but your manager may be too.

Yeah, no kidding, Mark, tell me something I don't know!

Despite the nerves, these conversations can always play to your advantage...if you are strategic. If you foresee the conversation being about a lower than hoped-for increase in salary / bonus, or not getting the promotion you were expecting, you can be prepared to turn those pain points around. But it will be in how you structure your reply.

Try to remember the PnP method (or as some people refer to it as the sandwich method). When you are ready to reply to a critical point in the conversation, start off with a positive statement, perhaps highlighting a specific accomplishment, and end with another positive statement. The majority of people (including your manager) will remember what you said first and what you said last, without focusing on much of the middle. 

Here are 7 additional tips and strategies on how to turn your end of the year review to YOUR advantage:

1. Anticipate what your manager is likely to be assessing in your end of the year performance. Make a list on a pad of paper of all the job responsibilities / requirements that are a part of your job. Be as specific as possible. 

2. Be honest with yourself and rate your performance in each of those responsibilities and requirements and try to anticipate what your manager will have rated for you as well. 

3. Rank the importance of each of those responsibilities from your manager’s point of view. If you did a great job organizing all the colored pencils on everyone’s desk, obviously that has zero importance to the manager. However, if an idea of yours saved the group hours and hours of work or a big chunk of the budget, and on top of that you made the manager look really good in the process, then obviously highlight that accomplishment

4. Don’t forget to focus on accomplishments done several months before your review. For example, if you completed a project back in February far before its anticipated timeline, and did so under budget, make sure you put a spotlight on it for your manager. 

5. Make sure to mention your enthusiasm about the coming year and the fresh ideas you’ve been thinking about that might add tremendous value to the performance of the group. 

...this point be the one you consider to be the most important — how to handle compensation. 

6. Often the perception going into this conversation is that the amount you are receiving as a bonus or salary increase is absolutely set in stone. Wrong. Most managers often have some wiggle room to use as they see fit. Therefore, it’s important for you to have an amount in mind already established as a target for what your expectation is. Typically base salaries are adjusted higher based on a percentage of that salary that is often used across the board within a company. However, there may be some flexibility with bonus amounts.

Based on how the discussion has been up until this point, you can assess whether it’s a good plan to suggest a bonus amount that you are ideally targeting versus what you sense the hiring manager might say. One of the most critical steps in a sales environment is the ability to negotiate. And as you likely know, the winner is always the one who says a number and then stops talking. The loser is one who says a number and then starts backing away from it.

Simply state that based on your accomplishments for the year, your upside to the firm going forward, and your ability to keep the team cohesive, positive, and productive, you feel that you are deserving of a target bonus of $X. If you use the word “target”, they know that is what you are seeking, but may consider a lower amount. Make sure you extend that “target” number high enough that if the manager comes in lower, you are still pleased with that figure.  

7. It is possible that your manager will take this opportunity to review with you some of the skills and efforts you made in the past year and provide criticism, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. It is essential that you do not appear to be defensive or evasive, but more so welcome his or her suggestions on how to improve. It’s possible that you completely disagree with those recommendations, but this is not the time to address how you feel about those suggestions. 

The bottom line with whole end of the year performance review is that the manager ideally wants you to feel like a necessary part of the team, while simultaneously keeping your compensation and benefits in line with other team members. You may not necessarily care about how your colleagues are being compensated, but you want to be rewarded for the time and effort you invested in this position, and what you have contributed overall to the team. 

The review is a perfect opportunity for you to come across as the ideal long-term team player, supporter of your manager and other colleagues, and an essential employee that your company will want to keep happy for years to come.

Using some of these tips and strategies should improve your standing in the firm, and add $ to your end of the year compensation.

Now take care of business!

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